GPS and guidance systems might be technology taken for granted in some precision farming circles, given they were some of the earliest innovations adopted on farms.
But the success of these systems is still rooted in signal reliability. Acquiring and maintaining a connection can be a challenge, even as cellular networks have become increasingly reliable.
One of the ongoing objectives for the Western Equipment Dealers Assn., is to improve the strength and speed of rural broadband. This was a point of emphasis at the association’s recent annual dealer meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Current infrastructure to support wireless connectivity and advanced precision services such as remote support, is lacking in rural areas of North America, according to Eric Wareham, director of government affairs for the association.
A catalyst for seeking broadband improvements is concern among farmers over travel distances to dealerships and repair costs, Wareham says. A more reliable network would allow dealers to better provide remote services tools to farm customers.
“It’s no secret that we have consolidation within the industry. That’s been going on for a long time now. I think when you infuse the challenge of technology advancing, together with the consolidation, dealerships are just simply farther apart. And I think that we have an opportunity now to make that less of an issue. It’s been a concern for a while, but I think it’s something that technology — if we utilize it correctly — can cure that problem.”
Wareham added that the association is currently working with different stakeholders, including farmers, dealer members and legislators to better utilize available grant money for improving rural broadband, along with seeking new funding sources to expand connectivity.