The integration of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with agricultural machinery catalyzed the digitization of farms in the early 2000s, enabling farmers to visualize yield variation within their fields. Since then, the definition of digital ag has evolved to include features beyond just basic yield mapping, such as variable rate prescriptions, irrigation guidance, seed variety benchmarks, and pest outbreak alerts. Decision support features abound, but the present state of the industry is fragmented. Most developers are start-ups who provide one aspect of decision support, and their solutions work in silos alienated from the rest of farm operations. Continue reading
Trimble and DuPont Pioneer recently announced a partnership that will improve the ease of data transfer between DuPont’s Encirca services and Trimble’s Connected Farm platform. While the two solutions both offer tools for monitoring and managing aspects of farm operations, both have unique attributes. A grower seeking a complete solution today would have to subscribe to both services – as well as a potential host of others – and it would be that grower’s responsibility to integrate the findings from the two platforms before making decisions about how to manage the farm. This is an obvious shortcoming and a real pain point for many would-be adopters of precision agriculture. The challenge is due mainly to the models by which precision agriculture service providers operate. Lux has divided the precision agriculture service provider landscape into three distinct models to demonstrate the difficulties: the individual service provider model, the partnership model, and the utility model (see figure).
In the individual service provider model, myriad small-scale developers offering solutions for individual agronomic issues like irrigation management, nutrient management, and harvest monitoring market their services directly to growers. The growers must manage individual log-ins and platforms for each solution, often having to perform calculations and make judgments themselves, as the individual solutions don’t offer interconnectivity. Solutions in this category include those offered by Spensa Technologies (client registration required), Mavrx, and Heavy Connect (client registration required), among others. Growers using such solutions typically miss an overall analysis of their farms and may miss key data points that remain obscure. There has been a proliferation of providers attempting this model, the majority of which are likely to fail or be rolled up into solutions that fit one of the other models described below.
In the partner model, some consolidation takes place. Continue reading