Technology adoption among farmers can be influenced by supply and demand for certain precision systems. While there are other variables farmers consider prior to purchasing hardware, there are general precision practices that apply to the majority of North American farms, including auto-steer systems and GPS guidance.

But buying decisions and objectives with precision technology can be dramatically different overseas. Brian Goggin spent 26 years with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service including 5 years in the southeast Balkan states, where he helped introduce and advance conservation tillage practices and soil health principles into the region.

Since retiring from the USDA in 2015, Goggin had headed up a grant-funded project to further educate and implement conservation practices onto large-scale farms in Bulgaria, some operations as large as 200,000 acres.

Adoption of guidance tools and variable-rate practices is checkered in the region, and Goggin says the primary precision objective for many farmers he works with is for security purposes.

“It’s not widespread, but all of these large farms, they have some element of precision. Telematic mostly, to guide the tractors. These farms are large and of course and families are involved, but they have to depend on hard labor. It’s almost as if they use their precision for some might say security purposes, to keep an eye on folks. Farmers sit down at their desks and there’s just an array of video being taken.”

Goggin adds that recording data and video is almost standard operating procedure to ensure safety and quality standards on large scale operations, although one of the ongoing hurdles to increasing broader adoption of technology, is training.