It is hard to open any agricultural trade publication and not find reference to the topics of variable rate technology, positioning systems, and a multitude of software applications. For those of us who have been around awhile, it is amazing to see how technology has impacted every facet of our lives. In agriculture, this has certainly been the case. Imagine if 40 years ago, you told your dad that in the year 2014, we would be placing seed with sub-inch accuracy with no hands on the steering wheel? Times have certainly changed.
This rapid advancement has been very hard to keep up with, both mentally and financially. For every success story in precision ag, I hear an accompanying horror story. The path to adopting precision ag can be both frustrating and rewarding. Without a doubt, the tools are getting better, but it is still important to use caution when considering investments in ag technology. Here are a few things to consider:
- What is the track record of the product? No matter what, it is important to ask how any product has performed during testing or deployment in the field. It is even better to get some references that can be consulted prior to purchase. With new products this can be tough, but there should be some proof available to suggest the product performs as promised.
- What problem does the product solve? I have seen several technology offerings that are simply distractions. Let’s face it, there are a lot of neat things available and while the “cool factor” is indeed something to consider, technology is an investment. It has to improve yield, efficiency, and/or profit to be considered an investment.
- Is the supplier/provider a good partner? Technology companies have come and gone. It seems like every day there is a new player entering the ag technology market. Trust and stability are still excellent qualities. Everyone has problems from time to time, but not everyone has solutions. Make sure you can get help when you need it.
Farming is one of the most challenging occupations. The insertion of technology in farming has created both opportunity and complexity. The challenge is turning complexity into opportunity. At Valley® we are committed to the irrigation technology challenge and have been since 1954. The difference between then and now is the focus. The opportunities for improvement today are heavily influenced by data and electronics. But we haven’t forgotten that our core challenge is to use every available technology to deliver irrigation to the field where it is needed, when it is needed, as efficiently as possible.