As dealer optimism continues to inch upward heading into the second quarter of 2017, no-till farmers are eyeing increased adoption of numerous precision farming technologies.
According to the results of the 9th annual No-Till Farmer Operational Benchmark Study, respondents forecast higher use of 10 different precision technologies this year, compared to 2016 and 2015.
Leading the way is an 8.5% increase in no-tillers who plan to utilize yield monitor data analysis, with 49.5% planning to do so in 2017 compared to about 41% the last 2 years.
Also seeing a sizeable jump was planned adoption of auto-boom shutoff, from 32.2% in 2016 to 40.3% according to the 2017 study. Field mapping is on the rise with 48.2% of no-tillers planning to make use of the technology in 2017, compared to 40.3% last year and 39.9% in 2015.
While some may consider guidance and auto-steer systems standard precision technologies, 57.1% of survey respondents plan to use these precision platforms on their operation in 2017, up from just less than 50% the past 2 years.
Rounding out the top 5 is use of auto-seed shutoff, increasing from 29.9% in 2016 to 34.2% this year. Other precision systems projected to increase in use by no-tillers this year included variable-rate fertilizing and seeding, satellite aerial imagery, remote sensing and unmanned aerial vehicles.
So how much are no-tillers planning to spend on expanded use of precision technology? According to the survey results — about the same or less than what they’ve spent the last 3 years.
In 2014, no-tillers invested more than $3,400 per farm in farm technology and more than $6,300 in 2015. The total dropped to about $2,400 last year and projections for 2017 are only about $2,600 per farm.
So is it realistic to expect no-tillers will dramatically increase technology adoption this year, if they don’t plan to pay for it? It’s possible that if the commodity markets improve, farmers may be willing to increase their investment later in the year.
And precision dealers often cite summer months as an opportunity to reconnect with customers after planting and game plan for both short- and long-term technology needs.
Another factor is that survey projections made at the start of the year, don’t always correlate to end of the year totals. In 2015, no-tillers exceeded their planned expenditures on precision farming products by more than double.
They forecast about $2,600 per farm and reported spending $6,300.
Time will tell if the planned increase in technology adoption by no-tillers this year will coincide with a bump in the financial investment they make to integrate those systems.