I just returned from InfoAg 2018 in St. Louis. I expected the show to be smaller this year since it was not combined with the international precision ag show, but judging from number of booths on the trade show floor, InfoAg shows no signs of slowing down. Here are few of my observations.
Ag data platforms come of age. A few years ago, the trade show would have been crowded by ag data collection and storage tools, but those seemed to have dwindled this year. I think that is because ag data platforms have matured and there is no longer much room for new entrants in the marketplace. There are also fewer players thanks to attrition and acquisitions. I saw very little presence from the giant crop-protection companies like Granular/Encirca, Climate Corporation/Monsanto/Bayer, or Syngenta. On the other hand, independent ag data platforms like GiSC and Farmobile are still going strong and marketing new offerings, like the Validator (GiSC) and the farm DataStore (Farmobile).
Aerial crop imaging technologies are prolific. There were many companies selling crop imaging products. Although a few drone companies were there again this year, most of the crop imaging tech I saw was derived from satellites. The most unexpected participant was Airbus, an EU rival to Boeing, which is now entering the US crop imaging market.
Soil diagnostic tech is also hot. Because ag data platforms have matured and stabilized, the ag tech industry is searching for new ways bring value into these platforms. The result is that there are many devices on the market to analyze soil conditions. The most interesting I saw was Teralytic's soil probe that remotely measures N, P and K as well as soil moisture, pH, and temperature. SoilOptix was another interesting product that uses gamma ray measurements to construct high definition maps of soil.
The slump in the US farm economy is showing no signs of slowing down ag tech. And our politicians would be wise to remember that farm commodities are not the only ag products we export across the globe. InfoAg is filled with international guests that are looking to import north American technologies to their countries.
If I did not see you at InfoAg, please send me an email and let me know what I missed. Sorry, there only so many hours in the day.