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New Technology Propels Agriculture Forward

Posted on Feb 22nd, 2017 by Rebecca Degelder

New technology will change the way farmers go about their business, says University of Wisconsin biological systems specialist John Shutske.
He outlines four key areas that will affect agriculture:
• Computer capability. Shutske says there is a “virtual tsunami” of data now available to farmers. He sees sensors on real-world objects being able to collect valuable field and equipment data. Imagine, he says, an air filter with an IP address that sends the manufacturer an email to order a replacement when one is needed. It will mean that rural areas will become more and more dependent on high-speed internet service, he adds.
• Artificial intelligence. This trend will also be driven by massive amounts of data, Shutske says. Early ag applications could include anything from pest management to scheduling operations, optimizinganimal health or making regular crop health assessments. Other industries have the jump on AI, and ag may not be too far behind.
• Autonomous vehicles. The technology has outpaced governmental regulations at this point, Shutske says. There is already extensive testing underway for autonomous cars, trucks and tractors. “Right now everyone is concerned about safety. At some point, things will shift, and safety will become the main selling point and reason to move ahead.”
• The sharing economy. Anyone who has rented a house using AirBNB can easily see the appeal of sharing major assets, Shutske says. For instance, it can help justify purchasing expensive farm equipment that’s only used several weeks during the year if the farmer can rent that equipment out the rest of the time.
“In agriculture, we already have done some of this,” Shutske says. “Agriculture has been a leader in the cooperative business model.” The process will be accelerated through apps and relationship data managing software that will make collaborative transactions much easier to manage.