Like any business owner, a grower’s first priority is keeping their operation afloat. Without a healthy, profitable operation, growers will not have the resources to adopt new technology, incorporate new data or transition to new management practices.
Here lies a common problem in agriculture technology: finding ways to keep farms running while transitioning to new technologies and sustainable practices.
We recently attended Tech Hub LIVE, a conference focused on the technology that’s revolutionizing agriculture. The conference featured a panel discussion about new technology and the ways we can increase adoption of this technology in the field.
We learned that, when it comes to agriculture technology, entities across the food supply chain must enable change.
We also need to shift our focus towards achieving a grower’s goals, rather than on finding innovation in the industry.
Growers work with many advisors to make decisions for their operations. Agronomists, dealers, technology companies and other entities often contribute to a grower’s suite of tools and practices.
While emerging technologies facilitate data collection, growers and their advisors still choose the practices and technologies that will help them meet their short- and long-term goals. Therefore, growers and their advisors must have an in-depth understanding of a grower’s business plan before incorporating new technologies.
Erich Eller, President of ForeFront Ag Solutions and a member of the Tech Hub LIVE panel, emphasized the role of partners in understanding farm technology.
“I don’t pay my mechanic for the tools he uses to fix my truck. Similarly, my partners don’t pay me for my toolkit. They pay me for the information I provide.”
For growers, identifying useful information is more important than the technology used to do so. And, as Erich emphasizes, not every technology product is right for every farm.
“Our growers are seeking leadership. While people may have a great product, sometimes they’re not the right leader for that farm or that acre.”
Understanding a grower’s goals, and utilizing the tools that will help reach those goals, is one of the most important aspects of agriculture technology.
In addition to finding the right tools for growers, agricultural advisors and tech companies must also use growers’ goals to power industry innovation.
Matt Carsten, President and CEO of co-op Landus, emphasized the value of agricultural knowledge in the development of new technologies.
“Tech companies need people that have on-the-ground knowledge and experience. They need to consult with growers and agronomists in order to truly understand what’s in store for the future of agriculture.”
“You can’t just consult with the people that develop the tools,” he continued, “you have to consult the people that use them the most.”
In other words, technology development and adoption is a process that starts and ends with the farmer. In order to speed the rate of adoption and innovation, ag tech companies must focus their efforts on the farmer, and on helping the farmer maintain profitable, resilient operations.
As Matt Carstens emphasized during the discussion, “When the farmer wins, we will all win.”
Read more of our insights from Tech Hub LIVE.