Precision Ag Survey and Manufacturer Views
Most farmers start out with some technology on their equipment and then add as they become more comfortable with the whole potential for precision. But the ag retailers are ordering new custom application equipment fully loaded to replace old applicators, he said.
Five-year targets for adoption by farmers nationwide cannot be considered to be the same for every type of precision technology. “If you are going to say 50 to 60 percent (of farmers) are going to have adopted autosteering then that percentage would be a good target. If you are talking about the guys who are into variable rate planting, then you are probably looking at 30 to 40 percent,” Olson said. “There are many avenues to adding technology. Seventy-five percent might have some type of technology on their farm (in five years), whether it be a yield monitor or whatever.”
A look at the survey forecasts by ag retailers about precision application by their farmer customers in five years substantiates the idea that farmers will be applying much more of their fertilizer and pesticides using precision technology. A total of 83 percent of retailers see their farmer customers doing more precision applications in five years. But there is no consensus, whatsoever, about the percentage of acres in an individual retailer’s service area that will be precision applied by the farmers—rather than hiring custom application by the retailer or another applicator (See chart A).
What seems the most disturbing in terms of ag retailer adoption of precision ag from the AgProfessional survey is the percentage of companies that don’t have their entire fleet precision technology equipped with GPS controller systems. About 41 percent of the ag retailers with application service, who completed the survey, reported not having any of their application rigs equipped with such systems, and an additional 31 percent of retailers had 50 percent or less of their application equipment GPS controller system equipped. Only 12 percent of the ag retailers responding said 75 percent or more of their fleet was GPS controller equipped.
When it comes to providing service with product, many ag retailers have felt somewhat caught in historical pricing. It hasn’t been uncommon for application of fertilizer to be built into the price of the fertilizer in one way or another. But providing application service with a high-tech system for variable rate fertilizer application using variable-rate mapping isn’t something that an ag retailer can justify as being “free” or built into the margin of the fertilizer.