Ag Innovation Showcase: Whose problem does my technology solve?
Silicon Valley is coming up with solutions to problems that farmers didn’t know they hadShow transcript
Giving a platform to farmers’ voices was an important new part of this year’s Ag Innovation Showcase, because without it, research might go… wrong. Delegates in St Louis, Missouri, discuss the challenges on the farm that actually need to be addressed. Registration is now open for the Ag Innovation Showcase 2017: visit www.agshowcase.com.
Hank Giclas: A lot of times we have somebody from Silicon Valley or some place else like that coming to us with a solution for a problem that we didn’t know we had. It’s important to be in contact with growers early to be able to make sure that you are addressing a real issue on the farm, and perfecting your technology in a way that has utility on the farm as well.
Darryn Keiller: Technologists love developing technology, not always necessarily with the customer in mind. And we need more collaboration between the customers, the universities, the research labs, and the innovators, to bring that ecosystem a little bit more closely together.
Claire Kinlaw: It’s not unique, it’s just you have to understand your end user, and your customer, and your customer’s problems. Taking that perspective – not why is my technology cool, but, whose problem is it that I’m solving, and who’s going to pay to have that solution adopted?
Hank Giclas: I think the biggest challenges being faced by our members are the shortage of agricultural labour. There’s a lot of competition for the available workers that there are.
We’re looking at technologies that will allow us to mechanise some of the labour: places where we can mechanise the harvest, sorting, grading operations.
People are working on automatic lettuce harvesting equipment, strawberry harvests we’re very interested in. That’s a labour intensive crop. And I think that ultimately we’re optimistic about that, because it translates into higher paying jobs in agriculture as well.
Darryn Keiller: And I think one other big factor is that the ag sector as a whole is very slow to change. It is a very slow turning wheel, compared to say, what we see in consumer experiences with adoption of new technology, which are now very rapid. So, there’s a level of education that needs to happen with the ag community, with the farmers, with the growers, to get them on board with the benefits of employing new technology.
Rohit Shukla: So for example, in precision ag, a collection of items that could be broadly classified as the internet of things. Such things as sensors and so on, that have been around for quite some time and are obviously being recalibrated and reworked. But their use really is not that significant when you consider that they need to be really integrated into biology.
Carlo Montemagno: That means we have to develop new sensor technologies, to sense the things that we know are important, and be able to network them all together so that you can generate a complete picture of the activity that’s going on, so you can establish optimum solutions for maximising the productivity, minimising the environmental impacts on producing food.
Hank Giclas: There’s a lot of technology being brought to bear on the water issue. There’s everything from remote visioning, remote sensing, using satellites and drones and aeroplanes and things like that. There’s infield sensors providing information about when to irrigate, where the water is in the soil profile. And all those things are helping us be a lot more precise.
The goal is to put on precisely what the plant needs at the precise time that it needs it. And through that precision, leave a smaller footprint on the planet.