Farm equipment started changing around 20 years ago, and suddenly operators no longer had to worry about driving in the road paddocks in ultra-straight lines, as the machines were doing the work by themselves. Soon enough, overlapping, underlapping, mechanical and foam marking systems were no longer a concern. GPS guidance had found its way to the paddock, and a new age of farming was born.
While there was joy amongst the hired machinery operators, they had little understanding that their future would be eclipsed by the brightness of the precision ag dawn, leading to their ultimate redundancy.
Staying ahead of the curve
At redhanded, our Research & Strategy team is always looking at where agriculture is heading. We always share the insights that impact product development and brand strategies, as well as communications to farmers, dealers and consultants with our clients.
A recent market research report by Frost and Sullivan has predicted a massive growth in the precision ag segment. By 2020 Australian farmers will spend around $500M pa on precision ag equipment, as early adopters are upgrading equipment and the masses are including precision ag equipment into their ‘normal’ farm operations.
While grain farming was the natural breeding ground for precision ag in Australia, we are now seeing mixed farming and horticultural operations getting on board. This technology also has significant scope in environmental land management, making sure that jobs such as weed control on public land are carried out accurately and logged to improve accountability and inform management decisions.
Crude GPS guidance systems have been rapidly superseded by more accurate equipment that not only ensures up to 2cm accuracy in the paddock, it also allows the equipment to auto steer, reducing operator error, fatigue and allowing improvements in efficiency and profitability. The widespread practice of spatial yield data collection at harvest now allows growers and agronomists the opportunity to manage a paddock more prescriptively, automatically adjusting inputs and operations to suit the soil’s potential as the tractor moves over the paddock.
Labour costs and availability often limit grain production and profitability. The direction of precision ag could mean that unskilled labour will be used to operate farm equipment until the new age of robotic equipment dawns.
The market is predicted to change rapidly as farm machinery manufacturers and independent precision ag equipment manufacturers compete for share in this growing market. There is an increasing awareness among farmers as to the value and ownership of the farm data that is generated by their own farm equipment, and as we move to a precision ag data-driven decision system for farming, this is sure to become a more emotional issue.
At redhanded we will be looking to a precision ag dominated future where it’s not about rows getting straighter, but rather how the technology is used to improve profitability and sustainability. It will unshackle farmers from the grind of working in the business, allowing them the freedom of working on the business.
The opportunities that the future holds are endless.