I’m winging my way back from Albuquerque from a conference of ag media professionals – it’s a great opportunity to chat with other editors to find out what’s working for them, what the trends are in media consumption by growers, retailers and consultants, and for me, to enjoy a city I have never been to before.
It was also an opportunity to connect with a number of manufacturers and suppliers who were represented on an exhibit area, including some interesting technology folks. From what I gather, there will be a number of announcements coming out of the upcoming Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA, later this month.
John Deere provided media and analysts with a peek into its plans for technology development and its vision for FarmSight last month, and I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more on how it will be presented to attendees at Farm Progress. But the big news for Big Green at the show will be 11 new pieces of equipment, so those of you with a taste for new tractors, combines, etc. (read: EVERYONE) will get your fix of gleaming new iron.
I also got to spend some time with Brian Stark from Trimble, one of the key folks that came to the company via the FarmWorks acquisition. Brian worked his way up from the regional sales ranks to become one of FarmWorks’ owners before the company was sold to Trimble in 2009, and has been a key person in the team that’s working on Trimble’s Connected Farm initiative.
He said that after three years of meticulous work (in the Trimble tradition), Connected Farm will be rolled out to the masses at the Farm Progress Show. Connected Farm will be open to virtually anyone in ag through the Website, and promises a number of logistics, connectivity and data management tools. Media get a special, in-depth overview during Farm Progress so I’ll give you my two cents on the web tool in a couple weeks.
I also caught up with the always-enthusiastic Mike Gomes of Topcon to talk about the state of precision ag, and what’s going on with the company. It’s hard to believe that it’s been just six years since Topcon entered the agriculture market. Through its own aggressive product development, along with the acquisition of Kee Technologies (that led to the development of the X-30 in-cab monitor) and the partnership with AGCO, it has come a long way.
Mike says that compared to its early years marketing in agriculture, growers are now in a place where they understand the potential ag technology can bring and are asking for more. Back then we were selling technology to growers that had very little or none at all, but today growers own and use at least some level of technology and want to know what else they can do with it.
He, like many others, also thinks we are making slow progress toward precision agriculture becoming simply “agriculture” as technology becomes more built in and invisible. One piece of evidence he presented was the “implanting” of Topcon technology into Fendt equipment, delivering powerful precision technology that’s unobtrusive and fully integrated into the machine.
I also chatted with Karen Scanlon of the Conservation Technology Information Center, who told me a bit about its plans for a 30th anniversary event on October 25. Improving technology continues to be an important part of our efforts to be better stewards of fertilizer, and CTIC’s research and outreach efforts are critical to ensuring we are doing the best we can. For more information visit the event website.
Last but certainly not least, I am really looking forward to getting some insight on where Monsanto is headed with its Integrated Farming System program. I’ve gotten some early but unauthorized feedback on how it will work, (and perhaps some of you have gotten overtures direct from the horse, so to speak) but knowing that occasionally companies will float trial balloons only to change course later, I’m not comfortable sharing what I’ve heard so far. But at a minimum it looks like growers will be challenged to make choices about who most influences their planting and farming decisions, and which entities will provide the best recommendations. It’s going to get interesting.
If you are going to Farm Progress, drop me a line. I’d love to sit down and chat about what you’re working on and even buy you a cool beverage. If you can’t make it but you are into Twitter, follow us at @precisionagnow. It should be another event full of interesting new ideas.