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Looking forward and back:
The end of the year is a time to look back at what was learned last year and to look ahead to what’s next. What changes did you make this year that saved you time and money? What opportunities are you exploring for next year? Here’s our top ag technology predictions for next year and our lessons learned from this year:
Trends we’re watching for 2018
In today’s agricultural landscape, products, techniques, and systems are changing faster every year. Here are the top trends we’re keeping an eye on for 2018:
● Data-driven production and management: The power of data on a modern farm has been growing as technological advances make it easier to collect, analyze, and act on data. New technologies will allow for even greater precision of nutrient applications, crop monitoring, and market tracking. Expect to see continued growth in products that help farm managers use data to make decisions in the moment – not just at season’s end.
● Help from above: While satellites have been used for several years in large-scale crop monitoring, drones are a newly emerging option for operations of all sizes. While drones are currently used mainly by large corporations, it’s likely that small-scale application is next on the horizon. Drones will get cheaper, lighter, and more functional as their abilities expand from photo-taking to pesticide-spraying. As the use of drones increases, so will contract drone services. You probably won’t need to buy your own drone any time soon, but you might choose to rent one, or pay for drone imaging.
● Robot employees: One of the most exciting advances in ag technology is agricultural robotics. Whether it’s autonomous vehicles or machines capable of picking crops, new prototypes of robots are released every month. Most of these systems are still too expensive or not commercially available yet, but 2018 will bring more robotics advances. As robotics become more common, their price will drop, making them an option for more operations.
● Predictive modeling and AI: Not every advance in agriculture will be a shiny new machine. Some of the most powerful new technology is software: modeling and artificial intelligence. Crop modeling programs are getting more sophisticated all the time, making increasingly accurate yield predictions and management recommendations. Artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms make these models even more accurate, able to self-adjust based on new information and inputs. Artificial intelligence also deepens the abilities of a number of other new technologies. For example, precision application machinery, when paired with AI, can deliver more accurate doses exactly where they need to go.
Check out this article detailing economist and futurist Lowell Catlett’s view of the exciting future of US agriculture:
Top lessons from 2017
We’ve collected the tips people found the most useful in the last year into a list of our greatest hits. Don’t miss these key lessons from 2017: