As we were pulling this issue of Precision Farming Dealer together, two of the items really jumped out in how wide ranging the efforts are in adapting to and adopting the rapidly emerging tools of precision farming.

The first covers the practical aspects of Selling Precision Farming Maintenance Contracts. The second takes us into the world of “Imagineering” that’s currently underway across the pond in Europe and presents a glimpse of what’s coming down the precision road: New Generation of Robots Poised to Transform Global Agricultural Production.

On the editor’s page of the January 2012 issue of Farm Equipment, I talked about how dealers need to “change the game” from giving away service on the precision tools they’re selling and figure out a way to charge for the service and create value for the customer.

Selling Precision Farming Contracts, describes how one dealer is doing exactly that. The article doesn’t disclose any trade secrets, but it should give other dealers some food for thought about how to introduce such programs.

The piece on robots in agriculture is absolutely fascinating. Here are a couple of excerpts that should get your attention.

“One application was the robotic Crop Scout, a monitoring platform capable of measuring crops and checking for disease. Currently, farmers routinely use pesticide and herbicide as a prophylactic and spray their crops whether pests or disease are present. Trials with the Crop Scout resulted in a 98% reduction in the amount of spray used, as the Robotic Sprayer sent by the Crop Scout treated only the small area affected by disease or pests.”

“Studies show that 90% of cultivation energy is used to repair damage caused by tractors. “The obvious conclusion is we must stop running tractors on land wherever possible,” says Prof. Simon Blackmore, head of Engineering at Harper Adams Univ. College. “The new generation of lightweight robots will move on wide, low pressure tires and only cultivate the minimum volume of soil to create the required seed environment. Seeds will be precisely placed, according to soil moisture levels. Their movements will be controlled by SAFAR (Software Architecture for Agricultural Robots) and routes will be planned via Google Earth. These demonstrators have also proved themselves capable of selective harvesting, enabling farmers to grow a higher quality of crop as those plants that still need time to grow are left in the field.”

Whether you’re a doer or a dreamer, these will give you something to think about.