Crop Quest Celebrates 25 Years of Service to Production Agriculture
2017 brings a milestone to Crop Quest. In February, Crop Quest will celebrate 25 years in business. We have served farmer/producers across the center of this great country for a quarter century now. In that time, we have all witnessed huge changes in production agriculture. It is going to be exciting to see what the next 25, or even 50 years bring to the ag industry. What we can be sure of is that change will occur. Embracing that change will be the key to our success, and it will be necessary if we plan on feeding a world population that will touch 9 billion in less than 40 years.
So, what is going to change? I want to revisit an article I wrote a couple years ago about the trends we can expect in agriculture over the next decade or more.
Think about the functionality of a computer 25 years ago: The computing power, the size, the mobility, the convenience (or lack thereof). Now, try to picture what that looks like 25 years from now. We are welcoming a generation of farmers and agronomists to the operation that don’t know life without a portable device. We don’t even call them cell phones anymore. What does their world look like in 25 years? I’m guessing they are going to be using the phrase “in the good ol’ days” just like us!
The power and speed at which data is going to be collected and retrieved as a useable tool is going to be staggering. Data layers are going to be everywhere. Sensors and images are going to deliver useable information to a grower easier than saying “hey google”. Autonomous vehicles will be the norm. It will be like auto-steer on steroids.
Technology, and the use of data will continue to change and refine the seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, and other inputs that are vital to increasing yields on fewer acres.
2) Big Data – Better Yet, Useable Data
Big Data is still a buzz word. The challenge is how to get data to work for a producer on a local level. Converting data to actionable solutions is what needs to happen to make all this technology worth the investment. This is actually one of Crop Quest’s major focuses. Without solutions, just viewing data is pretty much worthless. This process takes a tremendous amount of time, filled with frustrations, trial and error. But when data becomes actionable, it becomes very powerful, and worth the effort.
With virtually no new modes of action on the horizon, many of the major chemical companies are focusing their attention on utilizing biological organisms as solutions for weed, insect and disease control. How these products control pests will be vastly different than what we are used to using chemical control, and will require a different mindset. I’m guessing that these first generation products just now being formulated will look very archaic 25 or more years from now.
In my opinion, this may be the most frustrating trend in Agriculture. An obvious example of this is bringing new products to the marketplace. The EPA requirements to bring a molecule from conception to the field requires hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of time. Pests mutate and build resistance to our current product lineup much quicker than new technology can be labeled. We can only hope that the technology available to collect and interpret data will help streamline this whole process. But, that will require a bureaucracy to change – and that may not be very realistic!
Immense pressure is being put on farmers to track the origin of all commodities and products grown for consumption. The technology and paper trail that this will require will vastly change how and what gets accomplished on a typical farm operation in the future. The cost to producers and consumers will be a huge burden as well.
This trumps all the rest. If the world does hit 9 BILLION people by 2050, the demand to supply enough food, fiber and energy to supply the world will be a daunting task. There is no reason to doubt that production agriculture is in the driver’s seat as we look forward into the future. We will see yields increase, we will produce more using less inputs. And the American farmer will continue to lead the world as the greatest innovators and producers in the world. We at Crop Quest look forward to serving our producers for another 25 years, and beyond. It is a great time to be part of American production agriculture. The future holds so much more in store for all of us!
Written by: Dwight Koops; Dodge City, KS