There was a lot to learn from the 2019 Precision Farming Dealer Summit. Attending as a representative of Charter (one of the title sponsors of the event), I was able to absorb some of the Summit’s greatest discoveries, conversations, and realizations. Here are some of the main insights that Ag dealerships can take away from this event.
Ag dealerships who haven’t yet implemented precision farming as another component of their business offerings may already be behind. As farm technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, so too must our companies. Early adopters will reap the benefits of learning from their own beginning mistakes, receive exponential increases of income, and gain a powerful source of recurring income.
Even if you haven’t started offering precision farming products and services, you should still consider getting involved. The sooner you adopt the technology, the sooner you’ll learn how to master it for your purposes, and the quicker you’ll reap the returns on your investment.
The biggest concern most dealerships seem to have in regards to precision farming revolve around the cost required to maintain such a department. Many business owners had doubts about whether or not they would make a profit when all was said and done. This is a mistake. Once you’ve signed on a customer under this agreement, you’re guaranteed a repeat customer for the duration of the contract. They will come to your dealership for everything they need, including things like additional sales of new equipment.
And as an added bonus, precision farming service plans provide a way for dealerships to work with customers who were formerly unreachable. Chief among them being the farmers who stick to certain brands of tractors that your dealership normally wouldn’t service. Adding this service opens the doors for a whole new audience of buyers.
One specific kind of AI to look out for is drone technology and the data it gives us access to. Drones give farmers the ability to fly over their own farms, observing potential crop deficiencies like leaf abnormalities sooner and faster. The AI systems working with the drones will even point out these issues for you.
Hiring someone to do the leg work of walking around your farmland and inspecting your product is a thing of the past. A human will walk around approximately 50 yards. Drones can cover all 10,000 acres. A human can take a look at your plants and make an educated guess. A drone can tell you exactly where certain plants are struggling and what disease, type of bug, or even weed might be affecting it.
Once a drone collects the source of the issues, it sends location information to a spot sprayer so the rest of your crops will remain untouched. This saves you time and money since you’ll no longer have to spray entire fields with weed killer.
There are still plenty of amazing topics worthy of discussion from the Summit. Here are a couple topics of interest:
Data. Many farmers have questions surrounding what data will be collected and how it will be shared. No one wants their personal information made available without their permission. As an industry we still need clarification on what business related data will be assessed and stored, who will own it, and all of its potential uses.
Hiring an Agronomist. If we learned anything at the show it was that hiring an agronomist is now a MUST. They serve a multitude of priceless functions. Chief among them are an agronomists ability to set up great relationships with farms. They can also sell recurring revenue service plans and farm prescriptions in ways dealerships normally cannot.
These key takeaways from the Precision Farming Dealer Summit are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m both pleased and blown away by what I’ve learned about our industry’s future as a whole. As you continue to strive towards bigger and better goals, remember to consider the ideas in this article and possibly attending the summit in 2020.