Over the last few years we bought a lot of trinkets. Some paid for themselves and some did not. I had a recent question from a group of farmers about the value of precision ag and I didn’t have a ready answer. Since then I did some checking on what was of value from the precision ag offerings.
First, here a results from Nebraska in a 2015 survey with 125 respondents on: what are they willing to pay for?
- GIS based soil sampling.
- Yield monitor and yield mapping.
- Guidance based steering, mostly autosteer.
Next was from a grower survey by USDA/ERS in 2010 and 2012.
- Who uses precision ag? Corn and soybean growers, mostly.
- For what purpose? Yield mapping and guidance systems.
Next I found a survey of farmers in the EU in 2014. They asked some interesting questions and from my experience farmers think alike, so I’ll include it.
- Why use? Guidance to reduce overlaps, yield mapping to reduce stress.
- What costs most? Data handling, software and hardware updates, learning costs.
- What are the benefits? Crop yield increase, optimization of inputs, better land management.
- Limitations? Lack of standards, lack of data exchange between systems, lack of consultation services, lack of advice on environmental benefits and lack of a basic understanding of determinates of yield.
And the last survey I found was a dealer survey of the U.S. Corn Belt from Purdue University in 2015. This one looked at what the dealership found useful or profitable — basically what the farmer was willing to pay for.
- Highest use? Soil sampling by GPS, grid sampling — mostly by 2.5 acres.
- What did they use it for? Autosteer, sprayer control, field mapping.
- And what was not profitable? UAVs (drones), was the highest ranked (meaning least likely to make a profit). With data analysis, yield monitor support and then satellite imagery closest to making a profit but still not.