In this issue we coincidently have two stories that mention the same technology. But the thinking by two different sources, who both reside within the same campus, seem almost polar opposite. An engineer views active crop-sensor technology as one of the next big things in precision agriculture. The agronomist sees all the problems and issues with the technology.

From an editorial perspective I can understand both viewpoints. But being an optimist, and a realist – who also has written stories of growers who make active crop-sensor technology work – I agree with the engineer. It's true that the technology is not a plug-n-play auto success, so not everyone will take this path. It takes a mindset change, and a dedicated fertility management change.

To those who can think different, a competitive edge may be found. Could this be a technology that current or prospective landlords would find way cool, and subsequently brag about you as a tenant? Could it be sold as reduced environmental risk to achieve lower rates on insurance or from your lender? Could field maps of such sensor-based variable-rate nitrogen gain you favor with future conservation or watershed programs?

You get my drift. It's all about open-mindedness, communications and creativity.

In the last issue (February, p.22, http://bit.ly/yJCiXO) we featured Jim and Cathy Sladek. This Iowa farm couple definitely thinks different by using third-party audits of specific farming practices that deliver benefits on the very questions I just posed.

In our January issue (Rethink Soil Value, p. 24, http://bit.ly/ya3Uyu) we talked to creative thinkers Howard Buffet and Clay Mitchell who believe soil quality should earn a value in the marketplace – since topsoil and organic matter is being lost at an unsustainable pace. Again, yet another possible new value that could benefit your farm.

Like I stated in my initial column in January, those who can find the value in change (or sensors in this case) will benefit.