Tag Archives: Precision Ag 2.0

IDEAg – Connecting the Disconnected World of Precision Agriculture

We live in a “connected” world.  Everything we now do or care about is literally just a touch, click or voice command away. But if you would ask Apple’s new virtual assistant Siri what the current state of precision agriculture is she would probably hang up on you!

Unfortunately, in the world of precision ag there is still a lot of disconnect.  Vital field data is lost or never collected, other is banished forever to the internal prison of a grower’s desktop PC while other data sits in a sterile white room full of servers run by industry giants John Deere, Monsanto and Pioneer.

How do we reconnect a disconnected industry?  That is the question that will be the focus of a first of its kind agricultural symposium called IDEAg being held outside of Des Moines, Iowa the first of next week.

Called the IDEAg Connectivity Conference attendees from all corners of the agricultural industry will gather to put into focus where we’re at today in regards to the “Connected Farm” as Trimble has dubbed it and who are the future players in this space are going to be.  The conference takes place June 25th through June 27th in Altoona, IA.

Looking through the exhibitor and speaker list some of the familiar names are there – John Deere, Raven, Trimble, SST Software – but there are some smaller players as well as industry outsiders who may be the ones to watch at this conference and beyond.   Names like AgSense – a company who has put center pivot control at your fingertips or AgIntegrated who will announce new ways to get data to and from the field are just some of the companies to put on your radar screen.  The other 800-pound guerrilla attending is telecom giant ATT who just happens to be a major sponsor of the IDEAg conference.

If the disconnect that exists in the precision ag realm today is to be solved it will first take a wireless solution in order to solve it.  It is not the final answer but it is the bridge that is necessary to be built so that the rest of the industry hopefully can walk across it together.  Whether it’s a massive government rural broadband initiative or a multi-billion dollar investment by telecom giants like ATT and Verizon – connecting agriculture to the modern world starts by connecting it where agriculture actually takes place and that is in the field.  If and when 4G cell coverage comes to the Back 40 it will be like Christmas has come to the country.

We’ll keep an eye on what comes out of Iowa next week but Precision Ag 2.0 is all about connectivity and sharing information and ultimately extracting value from it.  IDEAg hopefully is a symbolic step like the driving of the first spike in the trans-continental railroad.  We just hope that in the future all parties are able to connect at a common place that ultimately benefits the grower farming the Back 40.

For more information on IDEAg check out their web page by clicking here.


Monsanto Rocks Precision World With Purchase

The precision headline of the week, month and maybe the year was made on Wednesday, May 23rd when Monsanto announced it was acquiring the precision hardware company Precision Planting.

Consolidation is not new in any industry but this one is different and has far reaching implications.  For a biotech company like Monsanto to invest in a precision hardware company means that the rules have now changed.  The extent, scope and nature of those implications are yet to be played out.  The one sure thing, however, is that the precision landscape is forever changed because of it.

Recently, one of the vice-presidents of one of the major precision agriculture hardware firms asked me who I thought the future players and primary competitors would be in the world of Precision Ag 2.0.  I could have given my standard response of John Deere, CNH, Raven, Ag Leader, etc.  But times have changed.  Instead my answer was simply Monsanto and possibly Pioneer.

Why?  Agronomy is the new foundation…the next frontier for precision agriculture.  The seed will drive future technology… including precision agriculture hardware.   If Monsanto is committed to doubling yields by 2030 it realizes that bio-tech alone will not get them there.  Execution in the real world is what Precision Planting does better than anybody else when it comes to putting high-priced genetics into the ground.

Monsanto did not buy Precision Planting because it is a profitable hardware company and because it likes how their technology plants picket fence rows of corn.  Monsanto bought Precision Planting because no one provides more data from the field on the planting process than Precision Planting’s array of planter sensors and instant feedback technology such as their iPad driven FieldView app.  Monsanto wants to build the holy grail of an agronomic database.  Precision Planting will help them on the way to such a quest.

Is this a good move for Monsanto and Precision Planting? What are your thoughts?  Click here to read a great blog post by Paul Schrimpf of the Precision Ag Network on this particular subject that addresses some of the same initial questions I had when I first heard the news.