Precision crop producers and those who serve them are always looking for ways to gain another five, 10 or 20 percent return on investment (ROI). Working the angles to coax another several bushels of yield out of a field is what they do.

Do you, and your team, take the same approach to making the most of your attendance at shows, yield plots and conferences?

Two big precision agriculture conferences this month will provide chances to catch up on the latest thinking, tools and technology for precision agriculture, and taking a planned approach may help you make the most of each.

First on the schedule is the 12th International Precision Agriculture Conference, developed by The International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA). Their event two years ago brought together 450 attendees from 37 countries. This year’s event will be at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, Calif., from July 20th to July 23rd, 2014. More at: https://www.ispag.org/icpa

The time-honored InfoAg Conference, brought to you by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), moves to St. Louis, Mo., this year, making a move to an every-year schedule and a different location. Organizer Quentin Rund says there has been strong demand for registration. Find more information about InfoAg at: http://www.infoag.org

So, to grow the best crop of ideas from a show season, shouldn’t you do a bit of pre-planning? Perhaps hold a brainstorming meeting to coach your team on how to make the most of the show.

  • What specific questions are you looking to answer?
  • What gear are you looking to learn more about?
  • Who on your team should focus on which aspects?
  • Should certain people have certain assignments?

Time spent at a conference, like a field at planting time, is full of both promise and variability. Taking some of the speculation out of it may gain a better outcome.

A team meeting may also offer a chance to remind everyone to keep eyes wide open and see things through your local lens. National and international conferences for precision agriculture are very important to the networking of the industry, I think, but they do bring a back edge and it goes something like this: Presenters and exhibitors, in an effort to throw the net wide in their communication of precision ag tools and techniques will maximize the commonality across crops and geography. It’s probably a necessary tack, this effort to make things relevant to all, but it flies in the face of what precision is—site-specific, crop-specific, field specific, acre-specific, grower-specific. Point is that there is no one size fits all system.

For precision ag to work, it must be local. It must be hyper-local.

If you are an ag retailer, once again you can smell the sweet spot of opportunity in that fact. You can clearly see the crucial role your local knowledge and advice plays in the crop production system.

As you walk the aisles and listen for the “aha” moment through these conferences and other summer shows across the country, remember that the sharpest, best and most useful tool you’ve got is behind your eyes and between your ears. One that gets only better the more you use it.

Have a great season of learning.