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What to expect from precision ag in 2023

Chambers
While tremendous hype around fully autonomous tractors remains, the greatest value for farmers at this point is automation. - Photo: John Deere
While tremendous hype around fully autonomous tractors remains, the greatest value for farmers at this point is automation. - Photo: John Deere

2023 is poised to be the year many of the technologies and advancements we’ve all talked about for years come together to provide a more connected and complete farm that will help the farmer, environment and consumers, says Jim Chambers, Vice President and GM Worldwide of Trimble’s Agriculture division.

With inflation and interest rates on the rise, the total cost of production for farmers in 2023 is at an all-time high. Focused on profits and margins, precision ag investments can sometimes go by the wayside for farmers in these types of economic climates. However, volatile economies present a greater opportunity to explore precision ag technology to drive efficiencies.

Precision ag players moving toward subscription

This year, we expect to see an increase in precision ag players moving toward subscription and recurring revenue models as farmers move toward more annual operating expenses as opposed to larger, capital expenses that have hefty price tags upfront.

Another area we’ve heard frequent chatter about is connectivity. In the past, it’s been “good enough” to connect data in your tractor display and use USB drives to move that data. However, it can become difficult to corral when there are hundreds of thumb drives floating around your vehicles and pockets.

Farmers are starting to see more value in a connected vehicle and have the desire for all their equipment to be connected to the cloud

With the onset of more autonomous solutions in the marketplace, farmers are starting to see more value in a connected vehicle – from maintenance to planning – and have the desire for all their equipment to be connected to the cloud. The freedom this brings farmers will be more realized in 2023, and we’ll see more technology offered up to address connectivity, which also impacts autonomy.

Redefining of autonomy in farming

On the subject of autonomy – this year, we’ll see the redefining of autonomy in farming. Autonomy isn’t just about the alluring self-driving tractor. It’s about understanding the entire workflow and job of a farmer, and alleviating the greatest pain points they encounter on a day-to-day basis.

While tremendous hype around fully autonomous tractors remains, the greatest value for farmers at this point is automation. Trimble believes strongly in making the jobs of farmers easier and meeting them where they are on their autonomous journey. We look at the greatest pain points on the farm and figure out how we can automate those by either removing the farmer from a specific task or automating the decision, allowing them to focus on other tasks.

Every farmer I know desires to leave the soil better than when they inherited it

Sustainability and environmental concerns will also continue garnering headlines in 2023. As farmers, there is more pressure from communities and governments to do better for the environment and soil. Every farmer I know desires to leave the soil better than when they inherited it, but as an ag community, we have to be better at proactively telling about the positive things we’re doing with the land and crops.

Carbon farming

Carbon is one of the major topics within sustainability that is gaining a lot of traction as an opportunity for farmers to monetize their work while also helping the environment. In 2023, we’ll likely see more confusion in the carbon market due to the lack of regulations, but there is progress being made. Trimble has been in the carbon space for over 10 years – and we know that the data we’ve gathered all these years is a critical component to the carbon market.

2023 is the year we’ll see the power of data come to life

Speaking of data, I believe 2023 is the year we’ll see the power of data come to life. Farmers don’t want to collect data for the sake of collecting data. They need this data to, first, solve real-world problems, and then secondly, while they’re collecting it, also build a valuable data set that’s measuring the health of their crop for future predictive analysis.

The products in data management haven’t changed much, but we’re starting to see more people understand how to connect into the cloud, realize future decision making benefits and put the pieces together toward a more connected farm. Though many farmers have been collecting data for years, only in 2023 will they realize the importance of real-time analysis in order to optimize their farms.

Water management is more important than ever

Lastly on the environmental side – water may very well be the new carbon. With regulatory pressures on water continuing to ramp up, water management is more important than ever. Something as simple as the movement of dirt in the most efficient manner can be the difference between draught and healthy crops.

From the technology side, we’re seeing several advancements pop up on the farm that involve AI. With new technology and companies like Trimble investing in other AI leaders like Bilberry to expand and scale, farmers will soon have the ability to make real-time decisions which can be critical in certain weather or crop situations.

In these critical moments, farmers need the ability to make decisions at the edge and respond accordingly. AI helps them do this and will soon give the ability to decipher more cause and effect, leading to further predictability and proactivity, rather than reactivity.

Technology moving to the implement

Lastly, while technology started out on the tractor or combine, we’re seeing a shift in that sophisticated technology moving to the implement, making planters, sprayers and even tillage equipment much more advanced.

From where we sit, 2023 is poised to be the year many of the technologies and advancements we’ve all talked about for years come together to provide a more connected and complete farm that will help the farmer, environment and consumers.


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