Online Companion: Precision Agriculture
By the time the late majority start getting into precision farming, there will be many more innovative products, tools, and processes that will be available to them. Some possible trends for the future may include the following.
More Documentation of Benefits
Many of the trends discussed here have indicated a cost payback or increase in yield or profits. The problem is that there is typically limited proof or research to show that it is repeatable. There is growing interest in doing field trials and documenting the costs and income associated with some of these technologies so that a more realistic cost analysis could be done.
As a textbook on spatial analysis, it can be assumed that producers would continue and expand the trend of using spatial analysis as a management tool. Producers and consultants will request more GIS tools to be used to routinely solve any problem or management question that they may have. This ties in with several more of the trends listed next, specifically software becoming more robust and connections between financial and production records.
Software Becoming More Robust
Additional spatial analysis techniques will be included in software. Deere and CNH are two companies that currently have yield mapping software with some analytical tools; however, look for that to expand. The ability to do suitability analysis, temporal analysis, or multivariate regression or statistical analysis is not common right now. However, as the late majority starts increasing in numbers, the early adopters will be looking for more analysis capabilities for the data that they have collected.
Financial and Production Connecting
Financial records have not been a major part of precision farming. Precision farming been used to document production and management aspects of production but has been limited on costs and income recordkeeping. There are several attempts by software producers to include farm costs and income within an agricultural GIS program or be able to link to one. The benefits of robust financial software that is integrated with production records, all with a spatial component of a GIS, would be huge. For example, if all machinery costs were recorded within financial software and at the same time an accurate number of acres used is recorded by GPS within the production software, this would give the producer the ability to come up with a very specific cost per acre for an implement or tractor almost in real time!
As precision agriculture continues to grow and mature, trends will continue to change. The best predictions of yesterday are only as good as today's information.