The diversity in machinery on arable farms in Europe demands brand independent GPS and software systems, according to Dutch company Vantage Agrometius.
In order to make arable farmers adopt precision farming technologies and therefore make precision farming successful, these technologies should be user friendly and profitable. That’s the starting point for Vantage Agrometius when the company goes out to sell its technologies to farmers.
“Precision farming technology is available, its applicable and its profitable. So its no longer something of the future,” says the company.
Brand independent solutions
Vantage Agrometius is located in De Meern in the Netherlands, and specialises in precision farming and GPS. The company supplies brand independent solutions. Recently they updated agricultural journalists on the current state of precision farming technologies and how they can be rolled out successfully.
The terms ‘user friendly’ and ‘profitable’ serve as a direct response to the conclusion that Wageningen University & Research (WUR) drew 2 years ago: everybody is occupied with precision farming, except the farmer. The reason for that was an imbalance between costs and revenues or – at the least – uncertainty about the revenue model up front for the farmer.
No such thing as plug & play
Next to that precision farming technology turned out to be less practice-ready than claimed when introduced into the market. There was no such thing as plug & play, concluded Wageningen University. That led to disappointments among early adopters and made others sceptical about precision farming technologies.
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At the moment around half of the arable farmers in the Netherlands use GPS, estimates director of Agrimetius Dennis Nijland. Also, many fertiliser spreaders and sprayers are equipped with variable rate application technology. However, at the same time there are still only a few hundred arable farmers who use application maps.“Though that number has doubled since last year, just like the number of soil scans that have been performed,” says Nijland. “Of all the agricultural contractors 80% has a GPS system.”
Precision farming accessible
Vantage Agrometius aims to make precision farming accessible by offering brand independent solutions. In contrast to the United States farmers in Europe own lots of different brands of tractors and machinery. The European farmer doesn’t take much notice of the fact that many of the big American brands are becoming full liner.
Dennis Nijland, director of Agrometius:
Brand independent GPS and software systems aren’t necessarily the cheapest to buy, but certainly are when it comes to operating them
Nijland: “The fact that farmers own so many different brands of machinery puts them in a strong negotiating position when buying a new tractor or machine. At the same time we see that on many farms there are tractors that are equipped with different kinds of GPS and precision farming systems, that have great difficulty in communicating with each other.”
Farmers don’t think about GPS
According to Agrometius farmers pay a lot of attention to things like power, tyres and front linkage when they buy a new tractor, but don’t give the GPS system a lot of thought. “Then they tell us they bought a Trimble system relatively cheap in a package deal together with the tractor, but it turns out only the antenna is made by Trimble, and the communication with other equipment on the farm is anything but naturally.”
The better option, says Vantage Agrometius, is to buy a tractor without all the extras and equip it with brand independent GPS and software systems. “That’s not necessarily the cheapest to buy, but certainly is when it comes to operating them. On top of that daily operations become a lot easier.”