The global market for precision agriculture solutions is forecasted to grow from €2,2-billion in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13,6% to reach about €4,2-billion in 2021.
A set of technologies are applied in precision farming practices, which are aimed at managing variations in the field to maximise yield, raise productivity and reduce consumption of agricultural inputs.
While solutions such as auto-guidance and machine monitoring and control via on-board displays today are mainstream technologies in the agricultural industry, telematics and Variable Rate Technology (VRT) are still in the early stages of adoption.
Interoperability between hardware and software solutions remains a challenge, although standardisation initiatives led by organisations such as Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation and AgGateway make progress.
Most major agricultural equipment manufacturers have today initiatives related to precision agriculture although strategies vary markedly.
Leading vendors of precision agriculture solutions include the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment Deere & Company, followed by the US-based precision technology vendors Trimble, Topcon Positioning Systems, Raven Industries and Ag Leader Technology. Hexagon further holds a strong position in the positioning segment through its subsidiary NovAtel.
Major providers that specialise in data-oriented applications and agronomic services are the Monsanto subsidiary The Climate Corporation, Canada-based Farmers Edge and the newly formed DowDuPont with its Encirca services. A group of companies have furthermore emerged as leaders on the nascent market for in-field sensor systems. These include Davis Instruments, Pessl Instruments with its METOS brand, Semios, Hortau, AquaSpy and CropX.
“The traditional industry boundaries within the agricultural sector are slowly beginning to blur as agricultural equipment and precision farming solutions are becoming parts of broader systems,” says Fredrik Stålbrand, IoT analyst at Berg Insight.
Partnerships and consolidation among agricultural equipment manufacturers and precision technology companies marked the theme of the last decade, but alliances are now expanding in scope among OEMs, input producers, software companies and agronomic services providers.
“The market is today evolving into a thicket of interlocking relationships that create complex competitive dynamics. Investments in APIs along with open IT architectures will be key to support the level of flexibility needed in the digital ecosystem that is emerging within the agricultural industry,” Stålbrand adds.