What is the value of precision ag?

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.


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