In each issue, we'll ask industry leaders about their role in the industry and what they're doing to support the new technologies.

Michael Gomes, Topcon
Michael Gomes, Director of Marketing for Topcon Precision Agriculture, answers questions about his company's role in precision farming.

Michael Gomes, who accumulates hundreds of thousands of air miles in his role as Director of Marketing for Topcon Precision Agriculture, answers:

1. You're on an airplane and a passenger asks, "What do you do?" How do you define "precision farming?"

"The way I define 'precision farming' is that it’s what farming is in the 21st century. The same information technology and manufacturing processes that have helped drive the American economy are simply coming to the outdoor industries. At Topcon, we define those as surveying, construction and agriculture.

"I have a lot of airplane conversations. When I explain precision farming and why it’s significant, I talk about how we now use GPS to steer tractors in the field. That it’s about machine repeatability day and night, the most efficient use of assets and about squeezing every inch of productivity out of the acres.

"Look at last planting season. People are amazed at the USDA statistics because so much got planted in a narrow window. That didn’t happen by accident. Auto-steering and RTK have been out in the field for 10 years. A whole lot of farms have that technology in-house. When farmers had the opportunity to plant, they were in the field 24-7. In doing so, farmers planted a lot of acres very quickly.

"There’s been a fundamental retooling of the farm industry. Farms have invested in the technology, and they have those tools in-house. When professional producers buy a new tractor, they look to upgrade their horsepower so they can pair it with wider implements so they can do a better job on their farm or serving their customer base. With that comes the requirement for a lot of high-tech tools.

"Today, having, selling and supporting auto-steering is simply what it takes to get in the game. But now we’re also seeing the rising popularity of rate control, telematics system and ISOBUS connectivity.

“'Precision agriculture' is all about precision, but it’s reflective of the state of agriculture today. When you look at things like environmental scrutiny, environmental stewardship, and rising cost of inputs — if farmers are not using the best technology available, they’re not looking at the long-term sustainability of their business. This is where the consultative sales approach for the farm equipment dealer is needed most."