Demand for crop spraying equipment and ag machinery guidance systems is increasing as U.S. farmers seek to squeeze more profit from their acres. This was just one of the significant trends cited during the "Ag Day" conference held in New York City in March. Fifty top investment fund managers attended the event, co-sponsored by Ag Equipment Intelligence and Wall Street Access.

Matt Hays of Equipment Technologies told fund managers that sales of self-propelled sprayers to farmers continue to rise as growers seek more control over the timely application of pesticides.

Steve Koles of Hemisphere GPS says guidance systems are currently being used on only about 30% of farms with more than 500 acres. Autosteer is still in its infancy with only about 10% market penetration.

"There are 3.5 million tractors and combines working in the field today and they are prime candidates for the sale of GPS equipment," he says. "Less than 20% of the new tractors produced each year are equipped, even though the typical payback period for GPS is 12 to 18 months."

Koles says the technology for a single operator in a pickup truck to operate four combines within the same field is available. "We can do it, but the acceptance of this concept is still a few years away," he says.