Still hurdles to clear for digital farming

A new report from RaboResearch Food & Ag group says digital agriculture has potential, but has several hurdles to clear before data intensive farming adds value to growers.  The next wave of farm technology, consisting of data to help reduce field variability, is slow to catch on, according to Ken Zuckerberg, senior research analyst with RaboResearch.

“Unfortunately, customer adoption has been very low,” said Zuckerberg, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News.

Low commodity prices have stymied investment in technology that has yet to prove return on investment, said Zuckerberg, adding that rural areas need better infrastructure.

“Broadband in rural parts of America is not as strong as it needs to be for connected devices to be able to talk to each other,” he said.

The study says the digital farming code will be cracked when there’s a universal platform on which stakeholders can adequately interact.

“The bottom line is we do think there is a blueprint for the future,” said Zuckerberg, “it just hasn’t been created yet.”

In recent years, digital agriculture has been, for the most part, funded by venture capital investors and venture capital units of several agriculturally based companies, according to a news release from Rabo.  During the past two and a half years over $6.5 billion has been invested in agriculture technology, split among software, hardware and other emerging sciences and information technology startups.

Zuckerberg characterizes progress on digital farming with a baseball analogy.  “We’re probably in the second inning of that.”

AUDIO: Ken Zuckerberg (10 min. MP3)


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