Is new better or just newer?

Do you sometimes wonder if new technology is introduced simply to sell you something new rather than something better? I can admit to that bias or a Missouri "show me" attitude, which is logical since I live in Missouri.

Now that you know my way of thinking, I also have to admit that precision agriculture advancements seem amazing. I'm just not sure if a "new" revised controller unit being announced every six months is really a big deal. Because I'm not the one using such equipment daily, I have no basis for judging.

The best example of my judgment about technology is when I'm looking at buying a new car; I don't get too excited about the new and improved features. GPS map systems are nice, but I only used it three times in a year when I had it free on my GM car. The sleek aerodynamic style for better gas mileage might have earned me a mile or two per gallon, but it also will cost me a mint in body repairs and when the bumper has to be removed to replace the headlamps. And all those supposed improvements in emission controls means I'll never touch anything under the hood more complicated than replacing the air filter, which requires a wrench and a seven-step process.

But precision ag technology intrigues me. I appreciate a salesman explaining it to me, such as exhibitors did at the NAICC Precision Ag Conference in Des Moines during March. I must commend the NAICC committee in charge of organizing the conference in doing a good job putting together the program. Everything was interesting to me and some really cutting-edge research close to being used nationally was explained.

I encourage all of our readers to check out the precision ag conferences/programs around the nation and attend selected conferences based on the agendas. More and more the business decisions about precision ag are not ones of whether to adopt such technology but whether upgrading older technology will result in a positive return on investment. Is the new that much better than older technology?

New is definitely claimed to be better when it comes to Web sites these days. And in the case of Web site technology, it usually is quite evident when a new site is better than the old one. Agricultural Retailers Association has announced its new Web site, and the site was upgraded with a new look, interactive functions and ease in obtaining information.

ARA explains what is going on with the new Web site in its section of this issue. The ARA site is at the same Web address as the old site —

And not to be outdone, AgProfessional has a new Web site, too. Our site isn't nearly as new on the outside as behind the curtain. Even though the look hasn't changed that much, hopefully you'll find improved functionality.

We committed a lot of resources to provide a better user experience. What we've done will also allow us to easily make changes on the site and help us keep pace with your expectations in using a state-of-the art Web site. The new "architecture" promises flexibility to enhance the site experience in the coming months.

We have ideas for adding more information and interaction specifically for ag retailers, crop consultants and farm managers, but we aren't making the immediate big splash in redesign and appearance that ARA made.

We would be interested in hearing from any of you with ideas for added content or improvements to our site. Just e-mail me at