Planting season is right around the corner and the folks over at Farm At Hand decided to put together a few articles to help you get the most out of this growing season. They asked experts and thought leaders in the industry to share their knowledge, including an interview with Remi Schmaltz, CEO of Decisive Farming.

Below you will find the full interview “What You Need to Know About Precision Agriculture”.  Also, be sure to check out the full publication to learn more about crop rotations, #plant15 trends, precision agriculture, along with crop marketing strategies. It  also has tips on agronomy practices, spraying, grain marketing and tax preparation, as well as legal advice for your farm data and strategies to cope with the stress of the upcoming growing season.

You can view the online publication here.

Precision Ag is a huge topic that could be hard to navigate. So we sat down with Decisive Farming CEO, Remi Schmaltz to get his thoughts on what you need to know prior to seeding this year.

Q: Could you tell us about precision ag and why farmers should be considering it?

A: Precision ag is a very broad term; Everything from GPS, sectional control, auto steer, variable rate technology, yield mapping to data management all fall into the scope of precision ag. As technology continues to be adopted in a broad way on the farm, what is deemed to be “precision farming” will evolve as some things just become the norm. I would say GPS and auto steer somewhat fall into that category today. The core benefits of precision ag for a farmer include increasing profits, reducing risk, simplifying farm management, increasing efficiencies, and farming in a way that is better for the environment.

Q: What precision ag tools or equipment would you recommend to your farmers, and why?

A: For seeding equipment I really like what Seed Master has to offer with their sectional control and ultra-pro metering system. They have the most reliable sectional controls in the market and their ultra-pro is the most accurate metering system. Both are great examples of how precision ag can save farmers big dollars in the field!

Q: How important are remote sensors? What kind of role do you think sensors will play in the future of Agriculture?

A: Remote sensors include everything from weather stations, yield monitors, grain storage temperature sensors, satellite imagery, nutrient/moisture sensors in the soil to different cameras on a drone.  As the cost of sensors comes down, and they become more accurate and have better connectivity, sensors will play an even more important role on the farm. The key will be integration of sensor data with other farm data to make it into information that a farmer can use to make a decision.

Q: Drones seem to be the talk of the town right now. Where do you think drones fit into the future of Ag and are they a viable option for farmers?

A: Yes, they sure are fun toys. They have the potential to be a very powerful tool on the farm but today they lack practicality. They can provide more precise imagery then satellites, but at what cost and purpose? I have had many discussions with UAV companies that are asking me what they should do with the data from their drones – shouldn’t they know? Even if we can get over the cost hurdle (more expensive than satellite imagery) and the logistics limitations (someone having to drive to the field to fly it), what is the purpose for their very high-resolution imagery? Most seeding equipment that is used on the farm today is over 60ft wide and sprayers are about 100ft wide. Even with the sectional control that is used on the farm today, the resolution from a drone is too high and does not align. It won’t be until technology like Clean Seed Capitals CX-6 Smart Seeder is adopted in the market, and is applying fertilizer and seed in 1-foot increments that such imagery offers true value. For me drones are at the very very front of the adoption life cycle.

Q: Are you seeing any trends emerging for #Plant15 in the precision ag space? If so, what are they?

A: Yes, even with growers experiencing tighter margins on the farm compared to the past 5 years. Farmers are continuing to adopt variable rate technology and data management services to make sure they are being as efficient as possible with the resources they have. It is a very exciting time for variable rate technology as it starts to be broadly adopted on the farm.

Remi Schmaltz is a co-founder, director and the CEO at Decisive Farming. The Schmaltz family has 4th generations of ag business knowledge. Remi holds a Management degree with a major in Marketing from the University of Lethbridge.