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The Future is Here

Precision agriculture is changing the face of the industry

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The movie ‚ÄúBack to the Future Part II‚ÄĚ got a lot wrong about 2015. No, we don‚Äôt have flying cars. We still cook food the old-fashioned way in an oven, and metallic full-body suits and matching helmets, thankfully, are not the latest fashion trend.

But there are still plenty of technological advances around today that signal the future has arrived, especially if you look at the technology used by our nation‚Äôs crop growers ‚ÄĒ your suppliers and customers.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention featuring executives from WalMart, DuPont Pioneer and CNH Industrial Precision Solutions & Telematics, which explored the future of technology in agriculture.

I learned that if you haven’t spent much time behind the wheel of a tractor since you were a kid, a lot has changed. For the last 15 years, onboard GPS tracking devices have allowed farmers to plant seeds without even steering, but today nearly all tractor activity can be monitored remotely in real time by smartphone or tablet.

Today’s tractors also come with park assist and many other vehicle automation features. Within 15 years, tractors will be able to operate without a driver at all.

Trevor Mecham with CNH Industrial Precision Solutions & Telematics said that with technology like NASA‚Äôs Soil Moisture Active Passive customers will soon have access to soil moisture measurements down to the root of a plant, with updates every two to three days. The information will be displayed in the customer‚Äôs app to help growers decide how many seeds they want to plant and where ‚ÄĒ crucial information to have as water becomes a scarcer resource.

On the seed side DuPont Pioneer’s Jerry Flint, vice president of regulatory and industry affairs, said the company will continue to take a transgenic approach to improving drought tolerance and insect control traits and will introduce more high-oleic soybean offerings.

DuPont also plans to expand its EncircaSM View app, which takes data, and through a local adviser, helps growers make decisions in seed purchasing and other yield management approaches.

Precision agriculture ‚ÄĒ the future ‚ÄĒ has arrived and is here to stay. These high-tech solutions will improve crop yields, giving you as a grain handler more product to store and manage, and to buy, sell and trade. Doc Brown may have been wrong about us not needing roads in 2015, but anyone from 30 years ago would still be impressed with the futuristic capabilities of today‚Äôs agriculture industry.
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