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Factory Farms Drive Technology Adoption and Sustainability Improvements

By Chris Rhodes

There was a refreshing op-ed piece in the New York Times a few weeks ago.  Typically when city-based media focus their energy on agriculture, the focus is on organic labels, artisanal foods, and craft beers – forgetting about the real work of feeding a growing population of seven billion people.  In the article, author Jayson Lusk talked about how technology is enabling fewer farmers, on less land, with a smaller environmental footprint get the work done to feed more people better food.  He highlighted that in the 1950’s farm technology would have required 180 million acres to produce the same amount of soy that is produced on 80 million US acres today, and that it would require a whopping 308 million acres to produce the corn that is currently grown on 80 million acres.  Without the technology that creates this kind of efficiency, we would not be able to feed the current population—80% of whom now live in cities.

In addition to the focus on productivity, it was nice to see an article that admits that there is no group of people who love the land more, and are better stewards of the land, than farmers.  Jayson points out that the term ‘Factory Farm’ is generally used as a pejorative, but that most farms are actually still owned by families.  He also points out that it is precisely the attention to detail, and the scale of the ‘Factory Farm’ that allows for the technology development and use that drives down the ecological cost of farming while still feeding the world.  It’s these larger farms that are driving the adoption of technology that reduces the use of water and chemicals and that allows for the low- and no-till cropping that has reduced soil erosion 40% since the 1980’s.

Finally, Jayson alludes to the immense complexity that comes with bringing together a bunch of different types of technology.  That complexity remains one of the main stumbling blocks of technology adoption, but not one that can’t be overcome.  A continued focus on driving technology through mobile devices and on connecting technology more openly will ensure that the strides we are making with technology will continue to deliver the productivity and environmental benefits we have been seeing over the last couple of decades.

For more information about how AGCO solutions are helping growers large and small become more efficient, visit www.AGCOcorp.com/Fuse.

Chris Rhodes is the Global Director of Commercial ATS (Advanced Technology Solutions) and Partnerships for Fuse®, AGCO’s next generation approach to precision farming. Chris helps ensure the delivery of Fuse technologies and services to our customers and the advancement of the Fuse open approach through industry partnerships and strategic alliances.

Increasing Precision Agriculture Technology Adoption

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.

Diffusion of innovations

Rogers Everett – Based on Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, London, NY, USA.

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 

No Strings Attached: The Benefits of Wireless Data Transfer for Growers

By Jennifer Parillo

Current Data Transfer Methods

In comparison to advancements in other industries, ranging from traffic cameras to cell phones, the current methods of transferring agricultural task data have become outdated. Farming decisions are becoming more prevalently based upon data analysis, and the ability to securely gather and transfer data has become imperative. The speed with which this data can be transferred is becoming increasingly critical as well, in order to allow producers to make quick adjustments to time sensitive tasks.Fuse_Go-Task_iPhone_Work_Order_300dpi_08282015

Most precision farming technologies currently employ USB sticks to transfer the data from the machine to the office. While this is, by definition, “wireless”, it is neither the most efficient nor the most reliable means to transport the data. Bluetooth technologies have also been used, but proximity poses a limitation, thus this does not provide a viable solution for producers managing fleets or multiple locations.

Wireless Data Transfer

The transition away from prior transfer methods to wireless means of communicating machine and agronomic data will streamline this process, allowing producers more time to use and analyze the data,   rather than spending their time and resources gathering it. Wireless data transfer is not just the fastest, but also the most secure channel to move the data both to and from the machine. Producers will no longer rely on their team of operators to manage the USB sticks housing their invaluable data, and they will have the data at their fingertips nearly immediately following the task completion. By utilizing secure servers to move the data through the pipeline, the data also cannot end up in the hands of anyone other than its intended recipient; this is of course more important when referring to agronomic data than machine data.

Benefits of Wireless Data Transfer

  • Eliminates distance as a limiting factor in the transfer of data, allowing large scale producers with widespread fleets to manage their operation from wherever they are
  • Reduces risk of lost or missing task data in FMIS from computer not downloading task data file after a job is completed
  • Better enables growers to make operational decisions due to ease and speed of gathering their data
  • Enables a faster and more efficient data sharing process with third party service providers
  • Eliminates risk of lost task data that can result from lost or damaged USB sticks
  • Reduces the amount of necessary steps taken for the producer to turn their raw data into usable information which can support their decision making process
  • Saves money and valuable time by eliminating unnecessary trips to the field and back to the office

AGCO offers unique solutions for wireless data transfer depending on the grower’s machine(s) and needs. Visit the Fuse website to learn more about our solutions, and stay tuned for the release of the new Go-TaskTM app on the Apple® App Store, coming soon.

 

Jennifer Parillo is a Global Marketing Specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group (Fuse).

“Productivity”: The Language of Farmers throughout the Globe

This week’s coverage of the Crop Tour 2016 highlights some of the precision farming technologies that help farmers make their operations more efficient – from Fairmont, MN, to Rostov-on-Don, Russia. The Fuse open approach is making operational gains possible by leveraging partnerships to provide the most productive, accurate seeding equipment in the world.

AGCO’s Darren Goebel, Director – Global Commercial Crop Care, discusses how applying precision farming to planting is a worthwhile investment, by improving yields through more precise singulation. He also discusses how precision farming technologies can offset soil quality differences including soil texture, organic matter, and topography differences.

Click here to read the full story.

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Varying seeding rates increases yield on highly productive soils while not wasting seed on poorer soils.

To learn more about Fuse, AGCO’s approach to precision farming technologies and services, visit www.AGCOcorp.com/Fuse.

Global greetings from Crop Tour 2016

By Darren Goebel

Greetings from Crop Tour 2016! Crop Tour is an initiative at AGCO in which we are gathering information throughout the growing season and demonstrating how different variables that farmers face every year can impact overall yield potential. As an agronomist I love the opportunity to get out to walk fields, observe crop progress, and talk to farmers. This week I was in North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  Two weeks ago I was in Russia. What is interesting about these two seemingly divergent locations is how similar farmers from Fairmont, MN, to Rostov-on-Don, Russia, are. Everywhere I go; farmers are looking for new techniques to increase production as efficiently as possible in order to improve their bottom line. AGCO is leading the precision revolution with Fuse® Technologies and the most productive, accurate seeding equipment in the world.

Following is my story of Crop Tour 2016 in photos:

Precision pays in Russia

Russia Fuse precision ag 1

Wheat plots. I was amazed to learn that wheat on this farm averages over 100 bushels per acre. Up to three nitrogen applications and two fungicide applications were made with an AGCO Challenger/RoGator Sprayer to insure top yields.

 

Soils in this region are high in organic matter and highly productive. This is a high organic matter silty clay loam soil. You can see Sunflowers in the photo. These were planted with a White VE series planter equipped with Precision Planting technology. Sunflowers are extremely difficult to singulate due to their inconsistent size. With precision planting technology, White/Challenger planters are proving to be one of the most accurate planters in the market.

Soils in this region are high in organic matter and highly productive. This is a high organic matter silty clay loam soil. You can see Sunflowers in the photo. These were planted with a White VE series planter equipped with Precision Planting technology. Sunflowers are extremely difficult to singulate due to their inconsistent size. With precision planting technology, White/Challenger planters are proving to be one of the most accurate planters in the market.

 

Several farmers, after seeing the incredible stand we were able to achieve, asked how much our planter costs. After a few calculations we determined that a farmer could buy a new VE series Challenger/White planter every other year on the yield improvement he could realize from precise singulation. Note the weeds pictured were in a check strip that our crop tour partner, Syngenta, had left to show weed pressure.

Several farmers, after seeing the incredible stand we were able to achieve, asked how much our planter costs. After a few calculations we determined that a farmer could buy a new VE series Challenger/White planter every other year on the yield improvement he could realize from precise singulation. Note the weeds pictured were in a check strip that our crop tour partner, Syngenta, had left to show weed pressure.

 

Thanks to our Crop Tour 2016 farm hosts in Russia.

Thanks to our Crop Tour 2016 farm hosts in Russia.

 

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes; 30,000 after a hard rain

Most of the corn in the region I travelled was between V5 and V7 growth stages. It is important to have adequate nitrogen and water at this stage because the corn plant is setting number of kernel rows per ear around V6. While number of kernel rows per ear is highly influence by genetics, environmental conditions do play a role.

Most of the corn in the region I travelled was between V5 and V7 growth stages. It is important to have adequate nitrogen and water at this stage because the corn plant is setting number of kernel rows per ear around V6. While number of kernel rows per ear is highly influence by genetics, environmental conditions do play a role.

Crops in Minnesota have had a tough time getting started due to cool, wet weather this spring. This week was no exception.  The lake in the background of this picture is a result of over three inches of rain the night before.  Pictured in the photo are Rick Sparks and John Menssen, both AGCO employees.  Rick is an agronomist and product specialist for the region.  John farms and is a Key Account Manager for Ziegler CAT. What I love about AGCO is the passion our employees have for agriculture. Here we were checking stands. This field was planted using prescriptions from Farmer’s Edge, in collaboration with Fuse Technologies for Crop Tour 2016.

Minnesota precision ag 2.jpg

Elevation map taken from “as applied” data collected from the GPS receiver, shown in FieldView. Agronomists use elevation data along with NDVI, yield data, and soil productivity information to make population decisions. Visualization above through Climate’s FieldView, a Fuse connected partner. Note the missing portion of the “as applied” map where the lake can be seen in the previous picture. Below you can see the variable rate prescription from Farmer’s Edge that was applied. Varying seeding rates increases yield on highly productive soils while not wasting seed on poorer soils. The red areas shown below were seeded at 20,000 plants per acre.

Minnesota precision ag 3.jpg

 

 

Above: 36,000 plants per acre in highly productive loam soils. Below: 20,000 plants per acre in poorer gravelly soils.

Above: 36,000 plants per acre in highly productive loam soils.
Below: 20,000 plants per acre in poorer gravelly soils.

One of the most rewarding things about working in agriculture is the opportunity to interact with farmers around the world. They are working hard to sustainably produce crops so that future generations can continue to enjoy the lifestyle. It’s hard work but I have not met a farmer yet that would rather be doing anything else.  More to come from Crop Tour 2016!

 

Darren Goebel is the Director Global Commercial Crop Care, for AGCO’s Global Product Management Group. Connect with Darren on Twitter @Agronomist_IN.

 

 

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