Precision Ag benefits and challenges

Precision Ag benefits and challenges
Nov 03, 2020

Top pain points to implementing precision agriculture techniques discussed

Ryan Ridley

Farmers from around the world gathered virtually today for the Precision Ag 101 Webinar, the first of a two-part webinar series for farmers who are interested in learning the economic benefits of precision agriculture and how it can be implemented quickly and efficiently.

The webinar covered many key concepts from zone management to variable rate application and data management to the various tools and technology involved in the industry.

Several questions were asked during the question and answer portion of the webinar. One attendee asked: What are the top pain points when it comes to implementing precision agriculture techniques?

“I would say lack of automation is Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3,” stated Alex Melnitchouck, Chief Technology Officer at Olds College.

Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun, Assistant Professor at the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at North Dakota State University on the other hand responded: “I would say the biggest challenge I see in precision agriculture is how to lower the technology cost for the farmers. When we talk about precision agriculture, we talk about all the different technology, a key thing for farmers is how it can benefit them,” explained Dr. Sun. “For example, if a drone cost $8,000, how soon will a farmer see a return on investment?”

The free webinar series was created to help farmers who may be new to precision agriculture and is part of the 2020 Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase.

“ has been hosting the precision ag conference for 8 years,” says President & CEO Graham Dyer.  “We realize one of the impediments to getting started is not knowing where to begin, so we thought we would offer this free webinar series in conjunction with our sponsors: Climate FieldView, Olds College, and xarvio – Digital Farming Solutions.”

Precision Ag 101 explored the basics of precision agriculture in a one-hour webinar, led by two expert speakers, Melnitchouck and Dr. Sun.

“In most cases, precision agriculture is a farming concept based on utilizing geographic information systems, navigation systems and some other analytical tools for managing intra- and inter-field variability,” explained Melnitchouck.

His presentation touched base on the three main types of ag data, including; static data, which is information collected as a snapshot (yield data, satellite imagery, plant tissue tests); dynamic data, which is streaming information (collected every day or multiple times per day); as well as unstructured data, which includes data that can’t be coded (scouting notes and general field observations).

Melnitchouck noted that static data is the fundamental data source for precision farming, but dynamic and unstructured data are also used to make some decisions.

Another great attendee question referred to the the lack of rural high-speed broadband internet and its impact on hindering the adoption of precision ag.

“Rural internet is definitely one of the main hurdles and it’s one of the main limiting factors in ag tech,” said Melnitchouck.

“As we invest more in technology in the future, we will require the internet to transfer the data – that is a must right now,” added Dr. Sun.



Precision Ag 201 Webinar, which will build on the precision agriculture basics and provide more information on key concepts, takes place on November 10, 2020 at 12:30 PM (Eastern Time).

Are you interested in attending the 2020 Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference? Registrations are filling fast and there are a limited number of virtual seats available, learn more about the upcoming conference on November 17-19.

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