If we examine the past 10 years’ productivity gains, they’ve resulted from improved genetics, disease and pest control and drought tolerance. Eventually, though, these technologies’ yield curve evens out and we look for the source of agriculture’s next productivity gains.

We’re trending away from seeing a new widget every year. There is only so much that automation can do to improve our return on investment. Producers need to consider how to use precision-ag knowledge to continue to grow yields.

Because RTK technology improves both drainage and input management, there are synergies between technologies that improve sustainability and profitability. One doesn’t need to be at the expense of the other. Swath-control technologies that accommodate drainage buffers along field edges can both reduce expense and deliver environmental benefits. Similarly, active crop sensing to optimize fertilizer timing and placement can spare nitrate leaching and nitrogen expense.

We still see growth in active crop sensing, but there aren’t many other silver bullets to automate.

If you want to be a top producer 10 years from now, you’ll need to optimize top genetics within your environment. You can’t keep climbing the yield curve without improving your management decisions.That begins with benchmarking your operation’s data and fully translating what it can tell you.


February 2011