In a new report from the RaboResearch Food & Ag group, the Farm Inputs team explores the status of Precision Farm/Digital Ag under the heavy umbrella of current commodity prices. The report, Bungle in the Ag Tech Jungle – Cracking the Code on Precision Farming and Digital Agriculture, finds thats the fourth and newest wave of innovation, digital agriculture has enormous potential, but has several hurdles that must be overcome before data intensive farming methods can add value to growers.
In recent years, digital agriculture has been, for the most part, funded by venture capital investors and venture capital units of several agriculturally based companies. During the past two and a half years over $6.5 billion (USD) has been invested in the broad category of ag technology (excluding food e-commerce), split among software, hardware and other emerging sciences and information technology startups.
According to RaboResearch F&A Farm Input Senior Analyst Kenneth S. Zuckerberg, “digital agriculture offers the promise of higher income and lower in-field variability and volatiltiy.” He goes on to explain that, “improved agronomic practices, coupled with more precise field decisions can create the promised value through higher crop yields and lower input costs.”
Of the five key barriers to the adoption of this new technology, perhaps the most crucial to overcome is the lack of a universial operating platform. The difficultly lies in organizing and alligning the industry and deciding what party/parties take ownership of each step of the process.
“Although it took two decades for electronic commerce to evolve after internet access became available to the general public,” explains Rabobank Farm Input Global Sector Strategist Dirk Jan Kennes, “we would expect creation of the necessary platforms for digital agriculture to occur much faster.”
At the end of the day, the demand for information throughout the supply and food chains will be a main driver in the evolution of digital agriculture and its widespread adoption.