I’m not sure if no-till farmers are any different than growers who utilize conventional tillage practices. But assuming most farmers are pointed in the same direction when it comes to using precision farming technologies, dealers should recognize that there’s still a lot of room for growers to grow. Which means there’s a lot of room for dealers to grow sales.
For the past 3 years, Farm Equipment’s sister publication, No-Till Farmer, has surveyed no-tillers throughout 26 states on their cropping practices, equipment used, operational costs, etc. The 64-question 2011 study garnered 502 responses.
While putting together the 3 years of data for a special report that will be issued later this summer, I couldn’t help but notice the steady pace at which precision ag technologies are becoming embedded in the way no-tillers farm.
The most often used tool is GPS lightbar guidance. More than 40% of no-tillers report using this technology, which is up from 39.3% in 2010 and 34.2% in 2009.
This is followed by yield monitor data analysis, which has been adopted by 37.1% of no-till farmers. This is up from 36.5% in 2010 and 31.7% in 2009. Other technologies in double digits included field mapping (35.6%), GPS tractor auto-steer (34.1%), variable rate fertilizing (26.9%) and variable rate seeding (13.7%).
Each of the rest of the technologies and equipment on the list — from satellite aerial imagery to electronic weed control — are in single digits in terms of farmer adoption, with even more room to grow.
The data makes several trends clear, but the most obvious is that an increasing number of farmers are buying into the new precision technologies. Dealers who aren’t yet tuned into this segment are going to lose out, but there’s still time. If 42% of farmers are utilizing lightbar technology, for example, that means 58% aren’t.
Oh, and by the way, on average these 502 farmers spent $388,464 on their farming operations last year. That’s down from the $427,404 they spent in 2008.