Cracking the Code on Precision Farming and Digital Agriculture

Agriculture has, over the course of its history, embraced new technologies that improve productivity. ‘Digital agriculture’ represents the latest wave of sector innovation—and while it offers many promising new technologies, farmer adoption has remained quite modest. Rabobank believes that a standardized system is necessary to drive farmer adoption of digital agriculture services—and within our latest report ‘Bungle in the Ag Tech Jungle: Cracking the Code on Precision Farming and Digital Agriculture’, we offer our take on how digital agriculture can add value to production agriculture.

aerial picture of harvest

Report summary

Digital agriculture represents the newest—and perhaps the most promising—wave of industry innovation that, in our opinion, can help production agriculture operate more efficiently and sustainably, both in terms of long-term financial success and continued environmental stewardship.

While this report approaches the subject of digital agriculture largely from the perspective of upstream farming (crop and livestock) and farm inputs (seeds, crop protection chemicals, fertilizer, and machinery) companies, a common operating system for data gathering, collaboration, and analytics is of critical importance to other players along the value chain.

The consensus view is that growers will not invest in new/unproven technologies during a cyclical downturn, but there seems to be a bigger limiting factor at work here. This nascent industry has been trying to attract customers before the ecosystem has been properly constructed. What we believe is missing is a standardized way to gather and interpret data, and then translate actionable insights to commercial users—insights which then, in turn, can deliver value to growers. Yet without a common data platform and operating system, it is unlikely that growers, or the vendors providing precision farming services, will fully capture the value associated with digital agriculture.