While there is still a mix of optimism and skepticism surrounding the overall farm economy, one bright spot could be the precision farming segment.
Respondents to the recently released 11th annual No-Till Farmer Operational Benchmark Study, forecast increased adoption of 11 different precision technologies in 2019, compared to last year.
The biggest mover in the study is variable-rate fertilizing, up more than 10% from 2018, followed by use of satellite aerial imagery, up more than 9% year-over-year.
Also up more than 7% are auto-seed shutoff and yield monitor and data analysis. While only about 12% of respondents plan to utilize implement guidance, it’s nearly double the 2018 percentage.
Two other emerging technologies trending upward are unmanned aerial vehicles and variable-rate seeding, with both seeing expected adoption growth of nearly 5%, according to the study.
The lone decline is in the use of lightbars, down more than 3% on 2019.
So how do the broader adoption of precision practices correlate to no-tillers’ expected spending on technology in 2019? Results of the benchmark study revealed that on average, respondents are planning to invest about $2,600 per farm on ag technology.
This total is about $500 more than initial 2018 forecasts, but only about $100 off of the per farm average of just over $2,500 reported in this year’s benchmark study.
A new category added in 2018 tracked precision service expenditures with respondents spending an average of just over $3,000 per farm. That total is forecast to decline to about $2,400 in 2019, according to the study.
However, it’s worth noting that survey projections made at the start of the year, don’t always coincide with end of the year totals and historically, actual precision expenditures have exceeded initial projections.