For those of you that follow trends in the precision ag field, you know that one of the most talked about current trends is Wireless Data Communication. This connects our machines to the internet, and to other users, all without pulling a data card out and taking it back to the office. That all sounds like a nice convenience on the surface, but I want us to take a few minutes and analyze what is out there to see if the real world benefits are more than superficial right now.
In this data transfer world, our ability to move data to our trusted advisor has advantages. If you have a field you need to immediately get to an insurance agent, have data processed for sampling or application, your trusted advisor can receive that data almost real time and get to work on it right away. But what about your piece of mind if you’re away from your operation for some reason? The ability to transfer data to the cloud usually also gives us the ability to transfer data to a mobile device. If you are 5 miles away filling a grain bin, or 500 miles away moving your daughter out of her college dorm room, knowing what’s going on out in the field is at your fingertips.
But I‘m gonna be honest; those feel like the taters to this meal. I think we can do better, and find the meat. The meat of this meal is cab-to-cab communication. At harvest time, with our yield data syncing in real time, we always have accurate swaths, and each combine, or the combine and grain cart. If the grain carts know what the yield is, they can load trucks more accurately, do less meaningless driving in the field and so on. But I think the real place where wireless data transfer is going to shine is at planting. I think it’s a more real scenario that we have two planters going in a field at the same time. Having our coverage data syncing, as well as populations and planter performance all flowing together give one operator the ability to monitor both machines, and that could add up to real dollars.
However, I will caution you this; you must be comfortable with where you are sharing your data. Whether it’s a seed company, an equipment manufacturer, or an aftermarket or 3rd party, take the time to read those 40-page user agreements and understand what each company’s claim to your data might be. Don’t discount the advantages of a business like Ag Leader, who are just in hardware, and don’t have any reason to be interested in your data.
Any way you cut it, wireless data transfer is going to continue to develop, continue to add bells and whistles, and continue to get better. I think we are on the cusp of there being enough to it now to justify paying the cost of admission. But like many new technologies, there is a different point of entry for each of us. I know one thing we don’t give the ACS team enough credit for is consulting and making plans for the future. I urge you to carve out some time and talk with our ACS team about your technology plan. This fall I am going to spend more time on this subject, because no matter what commodity prices are, traveling without a road map is never a good idea.