By Amanda Wemette
At some point during your education or business training, you may have heard of the technology adoption theory called “Diffusion of innovations” by Everett Rogers, which categorizes technology adopters in five stages: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. This theory has been applied to many industries, from consumer gadgets to business solutions. When it comes to precision farming, the adoption of new technologies can often be met with skepticism and a “let’s see where this goes first” attitude. This is understandable, given the rate at which technology changes and the resources required to implement new farming tech, from purchasing to training.
Some technologies, such as automatic guidance, are widely used and in the last stages of the adoption curve. The benefits of automatic guidance are well known and accepted. But what about the constant flow of new precision farming technology innovations? What makes growers confident enough to turn from “Laggards” into “Early Adopters” or “Early Majority”?
As this 2013 study notes, “Farmers appreciate in-field demonstrations, free trials, [and] support services related to the use of new technologies, as they promote the perception that the use of a technology is easy.” Communicating the value, or return, on precision farming products and services is also helpful, as is traditional word of mouth marketing. Hearing from one’s peers helps to validate the buying decision. In fact, word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. This can come in the form of neighbors sharing best practices over dinner, or through reading and viewing customer testimonials. A little assurance can go a long way.
What influences your precision farming technology buying decisions? Tweet @AGCOcorp and let us know.
Amanda Wemette is a Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist for AGCO’s Global Advanced Technology Solutions group (Fuse). Connect with Amanda on Twitter @AmandaWemette
AGCO is collaborating with Beck’s Hybrids to demonstrate yield and productivity advantages of the new Sunflower 9830NT. The 9830NT was featured at a recent Beck’s field day (Becknology Days) in Henderson, KY. Throughout the course of the day, hundreds of growers went through the Equipment Innovations class and then stopped by to look at the iron. The theme was technology-enabled productivity that is providing the most accurate seeding system for wheat, early soybeans, and double-crop soybeans.
Beck’s is very interested in plot work that will help farmers make the right decisions about agronomic inputs as well as equipment decisions. The 9830NT can put down fertilizer with wheat in the fall, which can improve yields by 5-10 bushels per acre. It is also the best drill on the market for seeding into heavy wheat residue. Alex Long of Beck’s talked about the trial work Beck’s is conducting that examines seeding accuracy at 6, 8, and 10 mph compared to a Kinze planter. Results will be available this fall.
Working with companies like Beck’s is a great way for the equipment industry to stay connected with independent agronomic testing and to be able to share our products with a diverse group of customers.
In addition to support and testing of the 9830NT, Beck’s is promoting AGCO’s X-Edition MT700E and MT800E tractors.
Beck’s has more Becknology days coming up. Follow the link below for dates in your area: http://www.beckshybrids.com/About-Us/Becks-Field-Shows.
It may be one of the best kept secrets in the industry: Many Massey Ferguson dealers offer a lot more than quality agricultural equipment. Many also sell a full line of lawn and garden tractors and zero-turn mowers for the rural lifestyle market.
“What a lot of customers don’t realize,” says Warren Morris, AGCO tactical marketing manager for tractors under 150 HP, “is that we have an agreement with Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group that offers an extension of our lawn care product line. Many of our dealers sell five different zero-turn mower series and four additional lawn tractor series that are marketed under the Massey Ferguson brand name.
“They are,” continues Morris, “as dependable and comfortable as the Massey Ferguson name would suggest. Featuring all-steel construction, welded frames, high-performance V-Twin engines and easy-to-operate hydrostatic transmissions, they’re built for rugged, reliable performance.”
Dick Felder, director of licensed brand sales, North America, Briggs & Stratton, Inc., says consumers would indeed be hard-pressed to find a lawn tractor as well built as their Massey Ferguson line at such a competitive price. “Thanks to our factory efficiency and production volume, we can match or beat the price on virtually every mower that is comparably equipped,” he says.
“The same goes for features,” Felder continues. “All but the lowest priced model, for example, feature a fabricated steel mower deck with a limited lifetime warranty, for lasting dependability.”
Other available features, depending on the lawn or yard tractor series, include automatic controlled traction for year-round performance; power steering and cruise control for reduced fatigue; and an electric PTO for attachments and height-of-cut adjustment. “Several models are even classified as professional-grade mowers and carry a professional warranty of four years or 500 hours—whichever comes first—with unlimited hours during the first two years,” adds Felder.
For more information on the full line of lawn and garden tractors and zero-turn mowers, see your participating Massey Ferguson dealer or log on to www.masseylawn.com. Currently, Briggs & Stratton works with about 170 Massey Ferguson dealers who participate in the program.
Massey Ferguson is proudly supporting another great adventure! The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s #ExpeditionSouth, is an initiative to raise $1 million dollars for the conservation of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut on Antarctica’s Ross Island.
Hillary’s Hut A was the first building constructed at Scott Base and is where Sir Ed began his historic expedition to the South Pole in 1958 with the assistance of three TE20 Ferguson tractors.
Nearly 60 years on, Hillary’s hut is in a state of disrepair and a comprehensive conservation plan has been developed in order to save a valuable slice of New Zealand’s history – but they need your help to make it happen!
In a tribute to Hillary’s 2012 kilometres journey, a team of drivers will raise awareness of the campaign as they embark on a journey traversing New Zealand on three tractors – two of them the same Ferguson TE-20 tractor models used by Hillary’s team, the other – a modern MF5600 Antarctica2, based on the MF5610 series used by “Tractor Girl” Manon Ossevort’s 2014/15 Antarctic2 tractor expedition.
#ExpeditionSouth will harness that intrepid spirit of the original journey, travelling the highways and back roads of New Zealand, visiting Hillary “hotspots” throughout NZ as well as local schools. Along the journey, local NZ Massey Ferguson dealers will make sure the team and their tractors are well looked after as they raise awareness of the Heritage Trust’s important conservation goals.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Director Nigel Watson says Sir Ed’s original decision to go to the South Pole was a bold move.
“No-one had been overland since Captain Scott in 1912. Sir Ed was on the Ice supporting the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and his decision to push on to the Pole with three Ferguson tractors was controversial. But of course they made it – the first trip overland to the South Pole by motor vehicle.”
Piha Beach (one of Sir Ed’s favourite places) marks the starting point of the team’s journey that will finish just below Hillary Ridge at Aoraki on Mt Cook. While not having to face the icy conditions of Antarctica, the team will face a four week journey through a variety of changeable conditions across New Zealand’s north and south island that will test both the drivers and their machines.
“We’re very pleased to have Massey Ferguson on board with us and supporting such a valuable and worthwhile cause. The brand has a very strong connection with Sir Ed that stems back to his original expedition to the South Pole,” says Nigel.
Growing up on a farm in Caro, Mich., AGCO customer Jesse Vollmar noticed that tech was transforming other industries, but life on the farm remained labor-intensive and low-tech.
Although Jesse’s parents—who with the help of their Challenger tractors grow organic row crops like black beans and blue corn for retail giants like Chipotle—had broadband Internet and smartphones, records on their 1,200-acre farm were still kept with what he calls “cumbersome spreadsheets. There was a widening gap between what was possible and what was being applied on the farm,” Vollmar explains.
The farm kid saw an opportunity and turned into a tech entrepreneur. His goal: Create a solution to make crop management easier for farmers like his parents. The result: In 2012, Vollmar launched FarmLogs to help, he says, “farmers digitally manage their farms and to leverage data from their fields to improve their operations.”
The company, according to Vollmar, has developed new technology, including web and mobile field monitoring software that notifies farmers when yield threats are detected. FarmLogs also automatically records field activities and provides instant access to field-specific rainfall data, soil maps, yield maps and growth stage estimation.
While inspiration for the startup was rooted in his farm experience, Vollmar knew he needed funding, advice and connections for FarmLogs to grow into a thriving startup. Along with business partner Brad Koch, Vollmar applied to Y Combinator, a prestigious startup accelerator in Mountain View, Calif., to help launch FarmLogs.
For four months, the pair lived and worked in California, devoted 24/7 to developing the software and preparing to roll it out to farmers and investors. As part of the program, FarmLogs received $20,000 in startup capital and access to mentors who offered advice on all aspects of business development. It was the first ag tech startup accepted into the accelerator.
Since graduating from Y Combinator, FarmLogs has, according to Vollmar, raised $15 million in capital and captured about one-third of the market among row crop farmers with 100-plus acres in production. “We started [FarmLogs] before ag tech was a trend,” Vollmar notes. “No one could have even conceived of this five years ago, and now we’re growing at a pace that’s mind-blowing.”