As farmers get ready to plant their crop, a lot of thought and money goes into protecting that crop from pests and disease. But, with innovation, growers will soon begin to think about crop protection in a different way than what they can spray on their crops to protect them. Today growers can collect a lot of data about their farms and their crops. But putting that data to work in a meaningful and practical way is still a challenge, says David Hollinrake, VP of marketing for Bayer Crop Science. “We know farmers have reams of data and technology to analyze that data in a decision making way, yet we don’t have the tools to help them take all that data and transform it into a real time decision.”
Hollinrake believes that, instead of thinking about how to protect a crop or a field, technology will allow farmers to think about crop protection row by row or even plant by plant, “Over time as we learn more about soil types, different plant varieties, different fertility practices, different insect infestations, or weather patterns, we are going to learn how to help farmers fend off these risks to their crops.” He said, in the future, growers will be able to treat just the plants that are as risk or just the parts of a field being attacked. This will minimize the cost and the impact to the environment. He told HAT it will not happen quickly, but this is the direction that technology is moving.
Hollinrake says companies, like Bayer, are investing millions of dollars in innovation to develop systems that allow growers to micro-manage their crops, reduce their inputs, and minimize their environmental impact, all while increasing productivity, “Only 3% of the world’s soil is used for food production, and it is predicted that by 2030 the demand for water worldwide will outpace supply by 40%. So these things demand continued innovation in agriculture.” He called it moving from precision ag to decision ag.