Cubbage: Is Your Business A Ford Or A Tesla?

Technology is infiltrating all businesses at lightning speed. Agriculture is no exception. ( MGN )

Farmers wear many hats as they may assume the role of biologist, economist, systems engineer, heavy-equipment operator and myriad other titles. It’s all part of “simply being a farmer.” But the hat farmers better get most comfortable wearing is the hat of “technologist.”

When someone asks you, “What do you do?” and your response indicates you’re an ag retailer, crop consultant or farmer, John Ellis says that answer is simply wrong in today’s world. “You are a technologist who has chosen to deliver farm products,” Ellis, who has worked in the mobile and automotive industries, told attendees of Farm Journal’s AgTech Expo.

Technology is infiltrating all businesses at lightning speed. Agriculture is no exception. To appreciate how disruptive technology can be, Ellis says to look at today’s automobile industry. For a period last year, the most valuable car manufacturer in terms of market value was a young whippersnapper of a company named Tesla.

Ellis contends that GM and Ford are old-school manufacturers that have made cars the same way since the beginning of the 20th century. Tesla, on the other hand, is a 21st-century technology company that just happens to build the coolest and smartest vehicles, which are all electric by the way—no internal combustion engines under the hood.

Candidates For Disruption. Right now, most farms look, think and operate more like a Ford Motor Company than a Tesla. That should be a huge concern not only for individual farmers but also for the industry as a whole. We are basically an analog-era industry trying to operate in the digital world of the future. And time is not on our side.

Even though “precision agriculture” has been around for 25-plus years, many farming practices have been enhanced but not seriously changed. Technologies like auto-steer and planter clutches are not primed to do the disrupting this time.

It is going to be about big data, the cloud and the Internet of things. It is going to be about adopting, understanding and exploiting your digital footprint within an information-driven marketplace. If you’re looking for validation about whether this is all real, then consider two words: Bitcoin and Blockchain.

The hottest speculative investment is cryptocurrency—the biggest name of which is Bitcoin. Most people consider it to be as real as Monopoly money, but don’t discount its future impact on financial and agricultural markets.

Then, there is Blockchain, which the Silicon Valley crowd calls a digital ledger that could ultimately track every process and transaction involved in growing and getting food from farm to table. In simple terms, I like to call it the Carfax report that comes with your box of Wheaties at Walmart. Unfortunately, the farm level is arguably the weakest link in applying Blockchain to agriculture.

That’s the weakness Ellis was suggesting. Digital data collection and standardization at the farm level are woefully lacking and extremely fragmented. To link up with Blockchain and consumers, growers must start digitizing data en masse. Every field operation, input and transaction needs to be correctly documented digitally. The future is here now. Are you ready? Maybe the better question is which hat are you wearing? Are you a technologist? 


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Submitted by Sam Cogdill on Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:47

I'm offended by your comments Maybe you should check the profitability of Ford vs Tesla I also believe Ford will be better for our industry, using corn for fuel Ag today has to have a blend of "Old Faithful" and "New" to survive.

Submitted by emmaferris on Tue, 02/13/2018 - 08:15

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Submitted by MozeePy on Wed, 02/14/2018 - 08:54

I`m irritated by your comments Possibly you ought to check the benefit of Passage vs Tesla I too accept Passage will be way better for our MyHomeworkDone industry, utilizing corn for fuel Ag nowadays has to have a mix of "Ancient Steadfast" and "Modern" to outlive.

Submitted by good idea I know on Fri, 03/23/2018 - 12:33

good idea I know. That is a top story. I haven't set a more important story yet.


Submitted by It's the Great Content update on Mon, 03/26/2018 - 06:17

It's the Great Content update! What is he supposed to say? No problem there though, just tell them there is nothing they can do.

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Submitted by mykohlscharge on Mon, 04/16/2018 - 02:18

Credit cards have now become one of the indistinguishable parts of our day to day life.It has solved out the problem of financial crises up to a great extent.


Submitted by Rick on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:00

You suggest the farm sector come into the digital age, how about access to HIGH SPEED internet first in farm country, most rural areas barely have SLOW SPEED internet, if any at all. Until we get high speed internet coverage across the whole U.S., what you suggest is not going to happen. You're kinda getting the cart ahead of the horse.

Submitted by johnalbert on Fri, 05/18/2018 - 05:38

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