The Adoption of Technology and the Ageing Farm: A U.S Ag Challenge

By Maria Onofrio

Mon, 2 Jul 2018

With an increasingly aging farm population, a reluctancy to adopt to modernisation within U.S agriculture is putting the development of the industry at stake.

Considering that the average U.S. farmer is, per last USDA census data, 58 years old, a pressing challenge for the agricultural sector is keeping up to date and benefiting from the latest technological advancements available to the sector. There is a need for this to ensure profitability in an era of economic concern and major industry upheaval.

After Monsanto acquired The Climate Corporation, new agriculturally related start-ups have been sprouting up in Silicon Valley, but “to be successful, ag entrepreneurs need to focus on creating companies that reduce costs, increase yields or improve efficiencies, and deliver benefits that farmers can actually measure. If the benefits are not clear, farmers will not invest. It’s that simple” says Rob Leclerc, from AgFunder.

THE MAIN REASONS THAT PREVENT FARMERS FROM FAMILIARIZING WITH MODERN TECHNOLOGY:

A tough economic environment, uncertainty over whether the ROI is a profitable one, and a lack of knowledge in new practices, is forcing the farmer away from the acquisition of state-of-the-art technologies.

Row crop farmers from the Midwest have mixed feelings about investing in ag-tech products, according to a new report from Farmers Business Network (FBN):

According to the farmers, and following the FBN survey, they need technology to be user-friendly and “they are tired of paying for technology that does not pay back”. Moreover, farmers are yet to clearly see the transformation of big data into actionable information.

On the other hand, there are farmers that do see the huge benefits of investing into modernising their land.

“We changed our mindset a lot over the last five years in terms of using our data to farm versus our intuition. We have a lot of advisors around us; agronomists, local coops, that will help you do things the way they’ve done it. But a lot of that is opinions. We’ve really been able to use our data to make better decisions and manage it within certain areas, manage it, analyse it, benchmark it, and be able to find profitability. To find cost savings, or become more efficient and improving our practices, whether that’s land or buying decisions,” said a producer in Iowa.

The benefits of digitisation in agriculture greatly outweigh its downsides, or the unfounded fears of implementing modern practices.

Attending educational workshops, networking with industry leaders, and participating in engaging technological showcases might be a way to overcome these fears that the “boomer” farmer is having to deal with.

The importance of technology might not only be of benefit for improving crop production, but also for attracting “millennials” and younger generations into the farming business. New processes and methodologies of farming could bring in a new line of hyper-technological farmers. Without access and integration of these new technologies within the industry, however, we will never be able to fully access their potential benefits.


ABOUT AG40

Challenge Advisory is bringing together AG40, a unique workshop where organisations will have the ability to network amongst each other for precise and profitable resolutions across the entire industry. There will be panel discussions and workshop sessions designed to create partnerships and profitable business development, helping to find cross-specialism solutions to current sectoral challenges.

Join Challenge Advisory and all our stakeholders for education, interoperability and investment relating to the latest technology in digital agriculture – click here to find out more:

www.challenge.org/ag40


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Maria Onofrio

monofrio@challenge.org

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