Technology continues to transform production agriculture in ways we could have never imagined. As the pace of innovation and adoption continues to ramp up, it is becoming clear that big tech has a big place in the future of American agriculture.
I have been amazed by the technology many farms are implementing today, which is particularly impressive considering that many of the farmers who are using advanced tech on the farm did not grow up with a tablet or smart phone in their hand. The adaptability and progressiveness of those in production agriculture is astounding.
Things like seed and chemical advancements, GPS and autosteer, and variable rate technologies have been revolutionary over the past few decades. These types of technologies have fueled tremendous gains in the productive capacity of American agriculture. But what types of technology will move us forward in the coming many years? Let’s discuss a few.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT are tiny sensors that may have a big impact on farming. These sensors can be used to gather data on crops, livestock and equipment. Advances in data storage and wireless monitoring will push forward our ability to constantly monitor crops, livestock and equipment (in real time) and proactively address problems before it’s too late. IoT sensors on equipment will likely help farmers run a more efficient and better maintained fleet. It is likely that these tiny sensors will likely become cheaper and more ubiquitous over time and could become critical in achieving improved farm profitability.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
RFID sensors provide supply chain tracking and are useful in following crops or livestock through the entire system to ensure quality and safety. American farmers and ranchers typically produce excellent food, but RFID gives farmers the deserved credit for doing so. Consumers continue to push for transparency as to where and how their food is produced, and RFID helps farmers provide this transparency.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Farmers literally make hundreds of crucial decisions every year. Improving your “success rate” on these decisions will enhance your farm’s profitability and likely your happiness, as well. What to plant, when to plant, what to spray, when to spray….the list goes on and on. AI seeks to analyze big data sets to help users take these large amounts of observed data and make informed decisions on what is likely the best path forward. AI likely has big applications in improving weather analytics as well, which could prove extremely useful in agriculture. Stay tuned as AI moves forward in the ag industry as it is likely the next big trend.
There is no doubt that big changes in ag technology are coming in the years and decades ahead. These are exciting advancements that will continue to move our industry forward as we meet the growing task of feeding the world. I encourage farmers and ranchers to embrace these opportunities as I believe leveraging them will improve your farm profitability over time.
Lance Albin is the president of UMB Bank’s Agribusiness Division.
He can be reached at [email protected].