One of the precision markets often identified by dealers as holding the most revenue potential is planter technology. Recent years have seen the debut and development of electric drives, high-speed seed delivery meters and hydraulic down force systems.
Both big iron manufacturers and independent precision companies have sought to establish themselves in this niche, with some having more success than others. But the landscape is likely to change in the coming years — perhaps even months — with the planned agreement between John Deere and Ag Leader Technology.
While contingent on Deere’s acquisition of Precision Planting, the arrangement with Ag Leader would allow the independent precision supplier to license and develop existing planter technology including Precision Planting’s SpeedTube, vSet, vDrive and DeltaForce platforms, independent of Deere.
Initial reaction from a several dealers — both OEM and independent retailers — is positive, with each seeing promise in the overall scenario. Noted benefits include access to additional products via an independent third-party brand.
Says one independent precision dealer, “I’ve had a lot of customers tell me, ‘If I have to buy Precision Planting through Deere, I won’t do it.’ If they have another option, I think that’s going be beneficial.”
But there could also be some level of confusion and concern as well should all the pieces fall into place. One being that dealers already carrying both Precision Planting and Ag Leader hardware will potentially be carrying 2 lines of the same product and need to determine which company will be the primary supplier.
Another question is whether the technology will all be seamlessly integrated with 3 companies involved vs. just one. Will the strengths and uniqueness of individual products be diluted or enhanced?
This remains to be seen, but some suggest that precision progress has somewhat stalled among individual companies, and perhaps collaboration or acquisition can jumpstart — or at the very least — streamline innovation.
“For data to work the way we know it should, ag can look to other industry models for success stories,” says another independent precision dealer. “We’re starting to see it with APIs in our industry, but I think it’s going to require companies that started an innovation allowing another one to take it where it needs to go.”