Reporting current trends in Precision Agriculture

Scottish inventor Alexander Bain received a patent on May 27, 1943, for inventing the fax machine. Yet it took more than a hundred years later until fax machines became commonplace.

The main reason fax machines didn’t become popular far sooner was because it simply wasn’t practical to use fax machines over early telephone lines. Not only were early telephone systems expensive to use, especially for long distances, but it required human operators to connect you to another number. The fax machine could only work when the costs of making a call were both cheap and easy.

In the farming industry, soil sampling has been used for ages. By digging up different parts of a farm and analyzing the soil content, farmers can understand soil conditions around that land. The big drawback with soil sampling is that it takes time. If you could dig up samples from every square inch of a farm, you’d know its soil conditions perfectly, but that’s not practical because it’s so time-consuming.

To make soil sampling easier, farmers rarely examine all the soil on their land. Instead, they take representative samples from different parts of their land. This trades off time for accuracy, but in many cases, it’s acceptable but not ideal. The ideal solution is to analyze all the soil, not just some of it.

That’s why drone technology is fast becoming the latest technological tool in the agriculture technology field. Like satellite imagery, drones can analyze an entire plot of land. Like soil sampling, drones can analyze soil content quickly and accurately.

There’s no doubt that technology, whether satellite imagery, soil sampling, or drone analysis, can help farmers. The two keys to adopting any technology are cost and convenience.

When new technology offers lower costs, many people will adopt it. When new technology offers greater convenience, many people will adopt it. When new technology can do both, everyone will adopt it.

Think back to the days of typewriters. For years, a typewriter was less expensive than a computer word processor. Yet many people willingly paid more to gain the advantages of word processing because it offered greater convenience. As soon as the cost of a personal computer dropped to the same cost of a typewriter, nobody wanted typewriters anymore.

New technology always offers convenience but at a cost. When that cost becomes equal to current primitive technology, that’s when everyone adopts the newer technology en masse.

You can see the same trend occurring in the agriculture industry.

In the early days, satellite imagery was an expensive luxury reserved only for the biggest farms that could afford the cost. Everyone could see the advantages, but most farmers couldn’t afford the cost. When the cost of satellite imagery dropped, farmers readily adopted it.

Today, drone technology offers a supplemental technology to satellite imagery and soil sampling to provide real-time analysis of soil content. For some farmers, it may be too expensive, but to others, they can immediately see the benefits.

Yet it’s only a matter of time before the cost of drone technology drops to the point where every farmer can afford and use it just as every farmer currently takes advantage of personal computers. When the benefits greatly outweigh the cost, it only makes sense to use it.

Right now, you may think drone technology may be too expensive for your current needs, and you may be right. Just remember at one time, GPS tracking and weather forecasting were brand new technologies that many farmers didn’t use at first until the benefits far outweighed their costs.

The same is going to happen with drone technology. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow, but it’s going to happen sooner than you think.