Apr 26, 2019Ag drone company surveys farmers on needs
Scientific Cal Ag has released results of its first Farmer Research Study. The study was conducted at World Ag Expo held February 12-14, 2019, in Tulare, California.
Nearly 60% of participants identified themselves as growers or farm owners, while agronomist/crop scientist, agriculture research and development, consultants, operations and sales comprised smaller portions. Among the notable results:
• 50% of responders grew fruit (including winegrapes) and nuts, which affords the greatest opportunity for Scientific Cal Ag’s drone driving technology. Smaller farmers (less than 440 acres) represented 63% of the survey, which is lower than the 89% reported for all U.S. small farms, according to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture.
• The survey found that 16 out of 100 farmers refrain from hiring a specialist during the growing season, preferring to handle the ground truthing themselves. Of those that hire a specialist, 31% are to detect disease and pests, with 22% for soil inspection, 17% for irrigation advisement and 14% for fertilization.
• Depending on the number of acres farmed, smaller producers spend up to $60,000 annually for the services of crop scientist/PCA’s and other specialists. Nearly 41% of farmers spend between $60,000 and $120,000+ annually for these services.
The survey further assessed the likelihood of adopting this new drone technology, indicating:
• 51% acknowledged that they use precision agricultural technology to make decisions in the field.
• 97% stated they consider agricultural technology/services worth the cost.
• Farmers responded positively to Scientific Cal Ag drone technology, with two-thirds stating they would definitely use their services, if available.
While adoption rates for farmers transitioning to agricultural technology remains below 10%, the general consensus is that innovators of agricultural technology do not fully understand the requirements of farmers.
“We tend to be bombarded with all of this new technology, but so far I just don’t see any savings”, was a common theme from visitors at the Scientific Cal Ag booth.
In response to the question, “what are your main concerns within farming?” 31% responded, “water/drought;” 24% responded, “crop yields;” 23 percent responded disease/pests; 10 percent responded, “picking decisions;” 5% responded, “maturity;” and 7% responded other.
Scientific Cal Ag has engineered a drone that flies, land and drive to conduct further analysis (ground truthing), meant to reduce the costs associated with hiring crop specialists.