Good news can sometimes be hard to find. We’re often inundated with negative crawls, feeds and tweets to the point where finding a positive is the needle in the haystack.

The last couple of years have certainly taken their toll on the ag industry, financially and mentally. The confidence of dealers I have visited certainly softened along with the market.

But there have been hints of optimism sprinkled throughout the last year as well. While I’ve not heard anyone suggest that precision farming sales will rebound to record levels, a more subtle and gradual recovery could already be in progress.

Reflecting on the results of our 2016 benchmark study, published in the Summer print edition of Precision Farming Dealer, 10% of dealers forecast revenue growth of 8% or more. However, nearly one-third anticipated revenue growth of 2-7% in 2016 — the highest percentage ever — and only about 21% projected declines of at least 2%, the lowest percentage in 3 years.

While the survey was conducted during the first quarter of 2016, the cautious optimism appears to be holding into next year, according to initial analysis of our sister publication, Ag Equipment Intelligence’s recently published 2017 Dealer Business Outlook & Trends report.

“For dealerships looking for any way to improve margins on precision sales — even modestly — these are encouraging figures…”

Looking at precision projections for the upcoming year, more than 32% of dealers forecast sales growth of at least 2%, an increase of about 3 points from the year prior. And better than 84% anticipate precision farming sales to remain stable or improve in 2017 — a 4-point uptick over last year’s Outlook & Trends report.

Sure, the increases may seem small on paper, but for dealerships looking for any way to improve margins on precision sales — even modestly — these are encouraging figures.

Optimism is highest among John Deere dealers, with more than 60% forecasting precision sales growth of at least 2%, nearly 10 points higher than 2016 projections. New Holland dealers are also looking for more precision sales growth next year, with about 36% forecasting at least a 2% uptick, nearly double the 2016 projection. The outlook for other OEMs and independent dealers is less dramatic, but still promising, according to the Outlook & Trends report.

Also telling is the rebound of precision farming as #3 on the list of “Best Bets” for improving unit sales in the coming year. For nearly a decade (2006-2015) this category held the #1 ranking on the list, but barely cracked the top 10 in last year’s report.

It’s not surprising to see the technology segment of the ag industry bounce back in the eyes of dealers, especially given that there’s no shortage of new innovations being released and numerous more in development, many of which are featured in this issue.

Following up on our inaugural Essential Guide to Precision Farming Tools, our editors again collaborated with companies to bring you unique and categorical coverage of the latest ag technologies. Some of these tools may already be part of your precision platform, and others may be on your wish list for the future.

Whatever the case, I hope you find value in the following pages, along with a prosperous end to this year and an optimistic start to 2017.