Online Companion: Precision Agriculture

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Precision farming technology and trends move faster than a textbook can keep up. Trends change yearly and technologies change monthly. Trends change relatively more slowly through economic and societal pressures. Technology changes more quickly as there is always a "better mousetrap" in the works. Because of this, trends may lag behind the technology and result in slower adoption of the technology. How fast the trends adjust to the new technologies determines how an industry matures. As a whole, the precision agriculture industry has matured; trends have come and passed and technologies have evolved. It is important for companies and individuals to be cognizant of these trends and the newest technologies if they want to take advantage of where the industry is moving.

In trying to predict societal influence and economic forecasts, it needs to be recognized that farmers/producers are still driving the adoption and availability of precision farming equipment and software. Engineers and manufacturers can come up with a myriad of products, advertisers can market them, and universities can support them, but producers are still going to make decisions based on how comfortable they are with the product and whether they think it will earn them some money.

Producers can be classified as far as their adoption of innovation based on Everett M. Rogers’ (1995) Adopter Categorization (Diffusion of Innovations, New York: The Free Press). Each category—innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards—has specific characteristics that move the technology forward. In trying to identify trends, we can look at the groups that have accepted the use of technology.

Adopter Categories:

  • innovators (venturesome);
  • early adopters (respectable);
  • early majority (deliberate);
  • late majority (sceptical);
  • laggards (traditional).

Five categories demonstrate how fast technology is accepted.

This article (and future addendums) focuses on two concepts: trends and technologies. Trends, at best a subjective topic, are discussed by the adoption categories. Emerging technologies, a more concrete topic, are presented based on the actual technologies that are being introduced.

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