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02191279A-SIZED-web.jpg Consumer Electronics Show
TECH CROWD: The Consumer Electronics Show is the pinnacle of new-tech on display. For 2019, agriculture will also be in the spotlight, with John Deere on hand to talk how agtech is helping maximize food production capacity and efficiency.

The changing face of ‘steel’ tech

Rising investment in innovations and tools is bringing new opportunities for agriculture

Recently, I was standing in a big box electronics store – I’ll let you guess which one. (Hint: the employees where blue golf shirts) I was looking at televisions, with an eye toward going bigger and higher resolution.

I ended up in a conversation with another customer looking at similar sets and I mentioned that I heard they’ll be showing an 8k television at the Consumer Electronics Show. For TV fans 8k would be a huge step up from 4k (more than double the resolution). I mentioned to the customer I hoped to see the television at CES.

Turns out there’s an Ag connection for the big event with John Deere on hand to share its work on artificial intelligence and how a miracle marriage of steel and electronics is helping farmers raise food more productively and efficiently. In fact, Deere is in the artificial intelligence area of the CES in January.

That customer I talked with called himself an old-time “Deere 730” farmer, and marveled at how farm equipment has changed. I’ve only been covering this business for 34 years and I too marvel at the changes.

Tech on display

Which brings me back to CES and the fact that if you told me 10 years ago I’d be attending that event to get a line on new tech that can be deployed in agriculture, I might have questioned your sanity. Not today.

John Deere will be on hand, but that’s just the start of it when you consider some of the topics I’ve written about in the past few years. Here are some hot topics from CES that show where agriculture and high-tech are linked.

Augmented reality – this is the ability to merge imagery with real locations. For example, GSI has a system that can take your 3-dimensional design for a new grain setup and combine it with a 3-d image of your existing setup. Once that’s done, using a pair of goggles, you can “see” the new design and how it fits with your existing setup. Should a latter be moved? A staircase by higher? Better to answer those questions ahead of time.

Drones/Unmanned aerial vehicles – these have value in agriculture, and more farmers and consultants are putting them to use. But what’s the latest tech in drones? Where are controls going? It’s another example of how tech in one sector also has value in agriculture.

Aerial imagery – related to that is the data collected from those eyes in the sky. Plenty is happening in this area and deserves attention too as systems are developed to “read” those images and provide users with more actionable information.

5G – that was a hot topic in 2018’s CES, and given that Verizon and AT&T are launching tests for this new super-high-speed data standard, what could it mean for agriculture? Another example of how technology for all has benefits for farmers.

That just scratches the surface of the rising value of technology in agriculture. I look forward to where all this is headed, provided there’s a cost-benefit analysis to go along with the latest “shiny thing.” We’ll keep you posted.

Safety talk and livestock

In my last column, I shared some ideas concerning a safety discussion. A farmer reached out to me and noted that I didn’t cover livestock safety. Of course, the column is called Farmer Iron and I focus on equipment, but he’s right.

If you’re raising livestock, that safety briefing should include adding a healthy dose of educated fear (respect) for the animals you work. The cattle and hogs farmers raise can be dangerous in the wrong situation. Make sure you include that in the safety briefing. Got more ideas? Send them along to

TAGS: Equipment
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