Purdue University’s Dr. Allan Gray presented an entertaining but highly thought-provoking assessment of US ag economics and the global challenges we face. Ohio State University professor Greg LaBarge also addressed the group.
Purdue University’s Dr. Allan Gray presented an entertaining but highly thought-provoking assessment of US ag economics and the global challenges we face. Ohio State University professor Greg LaBarge also addressed the group.

Despite uncooperative Indiana weather, a large gathering of growers met at Covington, Ind., for a special conference on ag data and Innovation January 12. The event, hosted by Ceres Solutions LLP, is a bi-annual specialized conference which brings nationally known speakers in to help Indiana producers expand their knowledge of the most challenging issues in agriculture, and make the most of their production opportunities.  

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President Chuck Conner opened the conference with several perspectives from DC. Through his role as NCFC President, Conner is well versed to update farmers on several key issues and pending legislation. He encouraged local growers that they must “put the face of the farmer more prominently into the public debate of food safety, sustainability and ag production.”  As a native of Benton County with local farm roots, Conner has devoted his career to representing agriculture, specifically Indiana agriculture, effectively at the national level.

Another nationally recognized speaker with Indiana ag connections is GeoSilos President Matt Bechdol. In a fast-paced overview of the many imminent innovations within the “big data/small data” realm, self-confessed farmer and tech geek Bechdol challenged the group to educate themselves—and consider all the possible areas of today’s ag business that data innovation will (more likely already is) going to influence. He explored many business areas, including finance, climate, machine-to-machine automations, traceability, robotics, and geo-fencing applications.

His comments about change and adaptation were direct, and for some producers, convicting.  “Data is not about Xs and Os,” said Bechdol. “It’s about people and culture and habit. If you are not prepared to change what you are doing based on the results that data brings you, don’t write the check (to invest in the data).”

By virtue of their commitment to the AgVantage program, growers at this conference have recognized their need to adapt practices and work with trusted advisors to turn data into a practical decision making tool. Most in the room nodded in affirmation that the speed of innovation is certainly daunting, but change is essential to remain competitive in modern production agriculture.

Attendees at the Conference are local farmers who enroll acres in the Ceres Solutions AgVantage program. AgVantage brings intentionally focused, deep soil analysis and crop consultation to growers, delivering full crop support, information and results to help them achieve production goals. Attendance at the Conference is a complimentary offering for all enrolled AgVantage participants.