Agtech Isn't Smarter Than Farmers

Soiltech_BlogImage_AgTechIsntSmarter_MainAgricultural technology has gained traction in recent years as a solution to the many challenges facing modern farming techniques. Undoubtedly, technology has brought fascinating advancements and improvements. However, there is an ongoing concern that agtech may end up replacing farmers and leading to further gutting of rural communities.

Although we should be mindful of the Orwellian future, no technology can truly replace the lived experiences, generational knowledge, and instincts of farmers. Agtech is designed to enhance farming practices and aid decision-making, never to replace them.

Lived experiences vs. AgTech

Farmers have been working the land and raising crops and animals for centuries, passing down their knowledge and techniques from one generation to the next. No technological solution can replicate this—at least not today or in the near future. The deep understanding of soil health, weather patterns, and pest management gained through years of hard work is invaluable to the success of the farm.

Lived experience and knowledge are pivotal to the industry as a whole and, in particular, to the communities in which growers live, work, and socialize. Farmers constantly adapt and make crucial decisions in real-time, something that agtech undoubtedly supports but cannot yet replace.

Agtech: complementing, not replacing

Instead of trying to replace farmers, agtech is working alongside growers to enhance their decision-making speed, accuracy, and understanding of the outcomes of those decisions.

While agtech can provide valuable data and insights, it is ultimately up to the farmers or their support network of agronomists, retailers, or colleagues to interpret and utilize them in the best way for their specific operation. Human input and intuition remain crucial components in making the most effective decisions for a farm's success, both short- and long-term.

Our friend and investor at Soiltech, Shane Thomas wrote a wonderful article that referenced Kenneth Zuckerberg’s Five Things to Overcome to Accelerate Ag-Tech Adoption, and are insights that we try to keep in mind while developing products for farmers. The article outlines dilemma’s for adoption and is a great read for anyone in agriculture moving towards commercialization.

Agtech benefits

At this point, agtech solutions are rarely nuanced or "intelligent" enough to eliminate the need for human input. Farmers should continue to rely on their expertise and experience while utilizing data from agtech providers as a valuable tool in their farming practices toolbox.

Some of the benefits that agtech can bring to the agriculture industry include the following:

  • Increased efficiency. Agtech can save farmers time and labor costs by automating tasks from soil sampling and pest scouting to monitoring markets and streamlining other processes.

  • Improved sustainability. Some agtech platforms can help farmers track sustainability metrics to support decisions about their land and resources through data-driven insights. Such data helps to make operational decisions and potentially capture benefits from programs and certifications where applicable.

  • Enhanced precision. Agtech's job is to improve the precision and accuracy of driving, spraying, fertilizing, seeding, and other farming practices by using features like GPS and sophisticated sensors.

Agtech as a decision support system

One of the major benefits of agtech is its ability to provide farmers with real-time data and insights. These platforms can significantly enhance decision-making abilities, allowing growers to make more informed choices throughout the year. This ultimately leads to improved outcomes, like maximized profitability.

Whether predicting weather patterns, monitoring soil health, or optimizing irrigation schedules, agtech can help farmers make better decisions for their unique farms and environment. However, and this cannot be stressed enough, this hyper-local data is only one piece of the puzzle and should always be combined with the input and intuition of the owners and operators or their agronomists.

Combining tradition and innovation

At Soiltech, our experience shows that the best approach to maximizing yields and profitability combines tradition and innovation. While technology can certainly bring about advancements and improvements, it is not yet ready to replace the tried-and-true practices passed down through generations.

By incorporating Soiltech solutions into existing practices and processes, farmers can tap into the benefits of innovation while still utilizing their expertise and intuition. Connect with us to learn more.