Conquering an Uncertain Future on the Farm

Artificial intelligence is the key to profitability in lean times


There’s hardly a worse feeling than uncertainty about whether you’re going to be able to provide your family. In these unprecedented economic times, it’s hard to be sure about what’s happening next week, much less how the market will shake out in the weeks and months ahead. What growers need, then, in times like these are tools that enhance certainty.

What causes uncertainty? Nobody can know the future. Weather forecasts much beyond a couple of days are generally useless. Weather plays a significant role in overall crop performance but run as far away as you can from anyone selling a system that claims it can predict the weather. The Farmer’s Almanac has been trying to do just that for more than two hundred years, and its long-range forecasts are roughly as accurate as flipping a coin.[1] You might as well rely on whether a groundhog in Pennsylvania saw its shadow or not as the basis for your long-term forecast. It’s more reliable.[2]


And that’s still not the road to certainty. For certainty that comes grounded in science, artificial intelligence tools have no rival.


AI drives better decision-making — and great results


AI gathers real-time information on field conditions that’s updated throughout the season. High-resolution imagery, equipment data, remote sensors — every available bit of raw data is processed and converted into usable insights the grower needs to maximize yields.


From pre-plant to harvest, growers typically make about forty critical decisions, each of which has a direct impact on the final result. We already know the price of making a bad call — billions of dollars wasted every year as crops are lost to weeds, disease, pests, and all the usual preventable problems.


The first step to achieving a great result, and avoiding problems like these, is planning. That means assessing the situation and setting goals for the upcoming harvest. It means deciding which hybrids will produce the best results given the conditions and planning chemical and fertilizer use.


Many farmers choose the “best” hybrid by checking to see what the best performer was last season. That can work — in the same way that the length of Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow might sometimes accurately “predict” an early spring.


Start stronger with AI


The reliable way of choosing the best seed is to evaluate hybrid performance not against last year’s conditions, but against current conditions on a field-by-field basis. AI tools are tailor-made for crunching the numbers and tracking the massive amount of data needed to sort through all of the options so growers and seed advisors can knock this decision out of the park, setting the stage for a great harvest.


As the season progresses, AI helps the grower keep everything on course for that result. IntelinAir’s high-resolution imagery gathered throughout the season provides unprecedented visibility into conditions and crop progress, and the farmer can review yield estimates, so there aren’t any surprises at the end of the season. Most importantly, smart alerts can identify potential problems — weeds, disease, etc. — so the grower can take action to resolve them before they affect the bottom line.


This level of AI-powered insight is unmatched, and the results don’t stop with the current harvest.


Replacing uncertainty with results


AI tools keep working in the post-season to set up next year’s win. The system keeps track of everything that happened throughout the year, so growers can go back at any point and review the choices made to see what might have been done better, further improving the grower’s skills.


Is using AI a guarantee of achieving record-breaking yields year after year? Of course not. What it does mean is just as important: namely, given the conditions, you’re not going to do any better. That’s something of great value to farmers because it means they can sleep each night comfortably, knowing they’re doing everything they need to be doing to create the best possible outcome for themselves and their family.




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