Let’s face it – technology in agriculture is growing and changing too quickly for any one person to keep up with it all. I work with a talented group of about 40 professionals who are deep into technology – all things mobile, web, IoT, and (insert other trendy buzzwords here…) Even so it’s hard for me to keep up with it all.

My point in sending this is to help you keep up with it all. No agenda, no sales pitch, no bull. -Peter Schott, Partner

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Farming Simulator has taken the world by storm, proving to be wildly popular among farmers and city dwellers. To keep things fresh, GIANTS software and Vapos, Inc. have decided to step up the realism, introducing a device that will release in-game smells to your living room.
For the first time ever, players will be able to differentiate between a trailer full of grass and a trailer full of liquid manure with their eyes closed––by simply smelling it. 
I never imagined people would pay for this.

Reach for the sky…

Vertical farming is another “well that could be interesting, I’ll believe it when I see it” model of farming that shows promise but is unproven. A project in Africa called “Mashamba” is gaining attention as a way to educate farmers and build a model of replication.

The main objective of the project is to bring this green revolution to the poorest people. Giving training, fertilizer, and seeds to the small farmers can give them an opportunity to produce as much produce per acre as huge modern farms. When farmers improve their harvests, they pull themselves out of poverty. They also start producing surplus food for their neighbors. When farmers prosper, they eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities. 

…and watch pigs swim

“We used to say that what we were growing was neither fish nor food. We were running the equivalent of Iowa pig farms at sea.” Vertical farming meets the salty sea. This is by far the most interesting application of vertical farming I’ve seen.

Waste not, want not

Food waste is a serious problem but creates opportunities for big businesses. By converting food waste into commercial products, ag companies are able to create real meaning to sustainability and turn a good profit. Time will tell if these companies can hold their own. In the meantime, grease and kitty litter are the new faces of sustainability.

AgFunder’s News: Online is the new water cooler

Follow the money… One of my favorite sites to keep up with Ag Technology is AgFunder and AgFunderNews. Dr. Arne P. Duss and Jonah Kolb put together a well-thought out paper looking at the overall landscape that is ag technology:

The future of farming is an exciting and profitable place to be, and we do well to remember that it is formed not by just the recent flurry of capital and innovation, but by thousands of years of agricultural progress.

As money continues to flow into ag technology, it will be critical for businesses to listen to growers. The two largest industries in California are agriculture and technology, yet a divide between the two persists. Let this quote from the article sink in. It rings true for the water problem in California, but also to the divide between technology providers and growers:

“The biggest mistake people make: they don’t understand what the on-the-ground needs and limitations are.” You can only grasp that by talking, and especially listening, to growers. “If you don’t, you’re just another entrepreneur with a gadget looking for a problem.”

!Viva la Revolucion!

Fargo was host to a two-day conference on all things “drone focused” and other UAS technology. With over 600 attendees and guest speakers ranging from technology leaders to the US Secretary of Transportation, it was a dynamic event. I wrote an article about the development of drone technology called “The Queen Bee is Dead! Long Live eBee!” which discusses how several agriculture companies are using drone technology with growers.
Or, if you want to see how and when robots will take over the world, check out Ryan’s articles on “Plant-Internet Bots at War” and “Bionic Leaves.”

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