When I began this job, one of the first things I did was scour the Internet to familiarize myself with precision farming terminology.
The research led me to several useful sites — mainly from educational institutions — populated with lists of commonly used language in precision ag.
On paper, the definitions are direct and technical.
But during visits with precision farming dealers, it’s not unusual to hear a variety of interpretations for a particular precision term.
This is a point of frustration for dealers I’ve talked with who aren’t quite sure how to explain precision technology, when they don’t know how to properly define it themselves.
“I know how to sell it and fix it,” says one dealer in Ohio. “But when it comes to defining the stuff for customers, that’s sometimes easier said than done.”
For farmers, getting their precision products to work properly is the primary objective, and precision terminology isn’t always part of their lexicon. But their dealers still have an obligation to help customers understand the technology.
Industry professionals are working to assist those in the precision business with getting a better handle on the meaning of precision farming.
Jerkins Creative Consulting (JCC) in Benton, Ill., is developing a series of precision ag online courses for equipment dealerships that will include a comprehensive explanation of critical precision concepts.
“It really starts with the basics,” notes precision consultant Dr. Thomas Krill, who is developing the program for JCC. “Everyone needs to be on the same page speaking the same language.”
And Washington D.C.-based AgGateway Corp.’s Precision Ag Council is in the process of creating a glossary of precision farming words as a reference guide and to create consistency in how concepts are defined.
With as fast as the precision farming industry is evolving, keeping up with new terms and assigning universal definitions is going to be a challenge.
Real-time kinetic, site-specific management and geo-referencing are still relatively new concepts in precision farming and dealers that I’ve spoken with have had different takes on what those terms mean to them — and more importantly — to their customers.
While there is certainly value in offering a handy guide to explain precision farming terms as a validation for dealers that they know what they are talking about, there appears to be room for interpretation as well.
As one dealer in Indiana told me, “I define precision as whatever the customer wants it to be and then I have to figure out how to make it work.”