Precision Agriculture: Success with Sensors
The close relationship between manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products allows them to benefit from the other’s expertise, which leads to more complete and effective solutions for their customers.
Likewise, sensor manufacturers and distributors must emulate that close tie if they want to share the long-term success as their crop protection counterparts.
There are many reasons why distributors must understand the products they provide customers, but perhaps the most important is because customers don’t always know what they want.
“When it comes to sensors many farmers judge based on price and how nice/fancy the sensor looks like,” says Johan Vos, Veris Product Specialist at Agrometius, a distributor of precision agriculture solutions focusing on Western Europe with offices in the Netherlands (Utrecht), Belgium (Sint-Truiden) and Germany (Lippetal-Herzfeld). “But too few do a deep dive into the specifications and the statistics (accuracy/reliability). It’s important information to keep in mind, because sensors are the first step in a chain of actions and we all know that when it comes to data, it’s garbage in, garbage out.”
And if growers aren’t getting the results they want (even when it’s user error), it’s the product and the manufacturer that will ultimately get the blame. Sensor manufacturer Veritas Technologies and Agrometius want to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“Soil information is key to growing crops successfully and getting good quality harvests. In Europe, we have areas with large variation in soil type within one single field,” says Vos. “This is caused by glacier times, floods, and by erosion. Veris sensors help our customers to get detailed maps of different soil parameters. This is very important information and a solid, reliable base to successfully adapt precision farming in their operations.”
For any distributor to be successful it must do more than just deliver products.
“Our core activities are consultancy, sales, installation, training, repairs, and services,” Vos says. Agrometius is an exclusive distributor for several leading brands including Trimble, Veris, Pessl, Sensefly and Optisurface. Some 60 specialists offer a wide variety of expertise including agriculture, agronomy, and or technology. To deliver that expertise, Agrometius’ team must understand the Veris products as well as the manufacturer. It’s a relationship the pair have cultivated since Agrometius delivered its first Veris sensor in 2012.
“Veris is very connected with the customers and dealers, and improves continuously their products/services to meet the needs of the customer,” Vos says.
Of course, it’s not just how the sensors work that the companies share. They also need to understand how the devices are being used.
“All the data that is generated with Veris sensors is processed on the FieldFusion portal for a quality check to ensure our customers that they have good, reliable data,” Vos says. “Because we do this, we and Veris know how many hectares they’ve scanned. Since we highly respect the data security and ownership, we use this for quality control only and we don’t use their data for other purposes.”
Agrometius and Veris expect the use precision agriculture technology to expand.
“It’s difficult to point out particular areas, but in general the adaption of precision farming is growing in Europe,” Vos says. “Where they grow high value crops like vegetables, potatoes, and fruits are the areas where there is high potential for this technology.”