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Reflections on InfoAg 2016
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The InfoAg Conference, held in St. Louis, MO on August 2-4, did not disappoint.  If you have never attended, it is considered the premier precision agriculture showcase in the Midwest with over 1600 in attendance.  For those companies that participated, it is an opportunity to introduce new products and services that will touch farmers, crop advisors, and ag retailers in the coming year.

This year I noticed more new companies providing in-season crop health imagery products and services.  It was a good mix of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), satellites and aircraft solutions, all trying to capture the right image at the right time.  Walking through the tradeshow, each exhibitor tried to sell why their product was better than the booth next to them.   New startups like Mavrx are capturing high resolution imagery from 1 cm to 30 cm and turning the data around within 24 hours for variable rate application.  Crunching data in that short amount of time during critical points of the growing season gives farmers and their service providers a huge advantage.

Another trend that caught my eye was the number of new startup software companies trying to sell precision farming mapping.  It reminded me of the late 90’s when Windows was starting to dominate the farm.  With the emphasis on “Big Data”, almost every company offers some sort of desktop or web software solution.  If they don’t create it ‘in-house’, they partner with other companies to complete their precision farming solution.  But to my surprise all of these companies had something in common - none of them offered grower level farm accounting or field record keeping.  Farm accounting isn’t even a blimp on the radar.  I find this interesting because there was a time (not too long ago) when farm accounting was the latest craze.  I absolutely love all of this new technology, but one has to wonder if we have put too much emphasis on UAVs and other ‘hot’ precision ag tools.  They are all part of a process, but farm accounting and field records are needed more than ever – especially with today’s lower grain prices.  And the only company that offered the complete package of field records, farm accounting, and precision mapping was Trimble.  It is something to ponder if you are shopping for a software solution after harvest.

It will be interesting to see what new farming technologies are available next year at InfoAg.  We’ve been riding the ‘Big Data’ train for a few years now and I look forward to see what the next ‘Big Thing’ is.

I hope you all have a successful and safe harvest!

Brian Stark
Trimble Marketing Communications

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