Talking with a few precision dealers about their transition into agronomic services, one of them noted that this is actually where their business began. Almost 2 decades ago, the independent precision retailer opened his doors on the promise that the company could deliver mapping, soil sampling and field analysis services.

The only problem was the capabilities of the hardware on the market to deliver on that promise. “I was maybe ahead of my time because most growers didn’t have the hardware tools necessary to utilize the data they were collecting,” the dealer says. “We quickly shifted into hardware because there wasn’t a market there for service.”

This was probably the case for a number of dealers as hardware and components proved to be a lucrative entry point into precision. While some dealers still rely heavily on precision hardware sales, others are shifting back toward the origins of precision.

The renewed emphasis on data collection and analysis is driving this transition carried out by hardware, which had been playing catch-up to dealers’ agronomic objectives.

But how long until agronomic ambitions outpace the capabilities of components? This is a concern for dealers who are committing to more progressive data management services with the hope that hardware innovation is up to speed.

“I look at my own farm and have access to a planter that can variable-rate 2 varieties, but I really need three or four,” the independent dealer says. “There is also the need to apply different fertilizer rates on a row-by-row basis. We’re talking about some huge data sets that are being developed and ultimately, they could quickly outpace the hardware side of the industry. But to that end, I see some tremendous opportunities for hardware product development in the future.”