With the rapid evolution of technology, it’s not always easy for precision dealers to catch their breath. However, a time may be coming when the precision industry takes stock of where it is and where it needs to go.

A new report, Bungle in the Ag Tech Jungle – Cracking the Code on Precision Farming and Digital Agriculture, from the RaboResearch Food and Ag Group dissects the obstacles and opportunities ahead for the fourth wave of precision farming —digital ag.

Report author Kenneth Zuckerberg, RaboResearch F&A Farm Input senior analyst, foresees a “day of reckoning” where standardization and streamlining will reshape and define digital agriculture. One of the major adoption hurdles is the variety of platforms and operating systems different companies use, which Zuckerberg says can create confusion for end users.

But there is a successful, profitable business model precision farming can emulate — software for free, premium support for a fee. Zuckerberg points to Google and Facebook as free digital platforms that were launched, promoted and allow users to experiment and customize their experience.

Providing a low-risk entry point into data-driven precision platforms could increase willingness by customers to test the digital ag waters.

“I think the path forward is probably giving away the software and then selling will be in the form of higher value-add analytics, insights and actionable recommendations. So, obviously what I’m saying to you probably does not help companies that are trying to raise money selling software. But if you look at the customer and then look at Facebook and Google and say, ‘Wow, those are multi-billion dollar companies that followed a very respectful approach to the consumer,’ I think there’s something there. So I fully expect a reset to happen among digital ag companies, with this view toward make it free, make it available, make it easy to understand and make it open.” 

You can hear more from Zuckerberg discussing the new report, including the influx of venture capital money in precision farming, in the latest episode of Precision Farming Dealer’s podcast series.