PRECISION AG – An Investment in the Future
I have a very interesting job. On Wednesday, I found myself southbound on a Saskatchewan grid road to meet a prospective client. To protect privacy, I won’t name the community and only refer only to “Rick”, the agriculture specialist & business owner.
My task was to pass on information about the capability of the eBee to seamlessly collect data, process that data and explore with Rick its potential use in Western Canadian agriculture. Much of my time is spent debunking misconceptions and understandings about drones, explaining the legalities of their use, and their agricultural applications in general. For those who are taking this new technology to the next level, I do my best to help out with the specific details and the clients unique needs.
Rick had given me excellent directions to find the business, but to be honest, I only vaguely listened to them. I knew I would find it, and spending a few extra minutes driving around in a small Prairie town suits me pretty well anyway.
When I found the business, I was immediately struck by the professionalism of the layout. Multiple new and well maintained buildings in a neat and tidy layout. This company set the bar for professionalism, pride, and being on the leading edge in his business. I was greeted by Rick who immediately struck me as a quiet, reserved and very likeable personality. Rick and I came up with a game plan to go out and fly a field, and then come back to his office to post process the data.
We headed out to fly the eBee over a quarter section of barley stubble 8 miles north of town. As we drove along another grid, Rick explained how his son, who is away at university studying Agriculture had an interest in agricultural drones and using one in the future. Rick was gathering all the information he could in a very fast paced world of cutting edge technology.
The eBee flight was by the book. As usual, it did the job is supposed to do. As it flew over overhead, Rick commented that his uncle, who farmed this quarter in the 70’s would never believe it. I immediately thought of a flight I’d flown just a few days earlier over what was once my great uncle’s home quarter. As the eBee was flying over my Uncle Johnnie’s long abandoned farmyard I said to my wife “Uncle Johnnie would roll over in his grave! No way he ever would have seen this coming!”
After the flight, Rick and I headed south down the grid back to town. As we made our way, Rick pointed out on the horizon, his own farmyard, his nephew’s place, and the original Uncle’s place. By the time we got back to town, it was clear that Rick’s roots in agriculture are deep. I’m not sure if he owned the land, or the land owned him. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and someone who is very easy to like.
I had a great day with Rick and as I drove home I reflected on my conversation with Rick and his needs and agriculture expertise. I know drones won’t save the producer money every time we put one in the air. But on any given flight, they have the potential to reduce future input costs significantly. They may even be partially responsible for preventing a crop failure by helping us catch a small problem area before it becomes large. Drones won’t make our decisions for us. But they will offer us a very timely useful information that will help us make the informed decisions during this season and supply information that can help us manage fields in the future. If our track record has us making the right decision more consistently, we are moving forward.
Rick was not looking at an eBee for only his own immediate use. He was considering the next generation, the future, and making the right agronomic decisions in the future.
I think Rick taught me more about the future of the technology than I could ever teach him.