calculations to spreadsheets, “but in
all cases they’re having to make the
decisions based on all these variables
To ease that process, AGCO debuted
the Ideal Combine this year, which
marries the traditional elements of
a high-end combine harvester—a
machine that can harvest many dif-
ferent crops efficiently—with smart
tech that allows farmers to account for
weather, water, speed, and other vari-
ables when heading out to the fields.
AGCO has also introduced Smart
Farmer, a sensor that goes into the soil
and measures inputs such as temperature, moisture, and organic material.
This tool allows farmers to apply precisely the right amount of water or
fertilizer needed, rather than inundating an entire area with unnecessary
additives, which is both economically
and environmentally costly.
“There’s all this data available,”
Rhodes says, “and that’s adding to the
amount of things that farmers have to
think about. What we’re trying to do
is take some of that off their plate.”
Fifty years ago, agricultural scien-
tists and growers warned of a looming
food crisis as population rates soared.
Today, those in the agricultural sector
are trying to feed an exponentially
growing number of people with a static
amount of land, a changing climate, and
dwindling natural resources. From targeted water sensors to adaptive
combines, the wired farms of tomorrow, powered by big data and smart
tech, are providing some of the best
hope yet to address this critical need.
Farmers are well-acquainted with managing a multitude of factors when
planning their seasons. What are the right seeds to plant? When should they be
planted? How should they be fertilized? Now, specialized machinery and drones
can help them better monitor their fields, collect information, and adjust their
actions accordingly. Companies like Monsanto are providing the tools to help
them gather and analyze vast new sources of information.
“We’re positioning ourselves to be able to help growers by being a place where
data can be brought together, and then by developing the right algorithms and
machine learning that allows us to help the grower make the best choices in the
field,” says Reiter.
Some of this machine learning will take the form of smart tech—instruments
able to process conditions and react to that input all on their own. Just as a smart
thermostat can keep a home at the right temperature despite changing weather
conditions, or a smart security camera can be activated by motion, smart farm
implements can adapt to various conditions, prioritizing speed or accuracy or
increasing water input based on detected dryness in an area.
Chris Rhodes, AGCO’s director of business development for Fuse, the Duluth,
Georgia–based agricultural company’s technology group, agrees that some
of the most dramatic developments in agriculture are happening in the data-collection realm.
“The farmer, from time immemorial, has had to take into account an almost
immeasurable number of variables,” Rhodes says. This has evolved from mental
S TEM S TUDIES
providing the tools
to help farmers
gather and analyze
ne w sources of
THAT ARE VERY
THE FARM. IT’LL
HELP THEM BE
HEAD OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMEN T,
CROP SCIENCE DIVISION OF BAYER
FAS T LANE
to plant a field
at t wice the rate
SPONSORED CONTENT CREATED BY FASTCO WORKS