Delegates attending the 2020 CAAR Conference had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the results from the 2019 Canadian Precision Agriculture Dealership Survey, conducted by the University of Guelph, with input and support from CAAR.

The survey was based on a U.S. version, conducted by CropLife America, that has been going on since the 1990s, and an Ontario version was introduced in 2017. The 2019 survey was the first to include Western Canadian input. It aimed to identify the ways in which precision agriculture technology is currently being used among Western Canadian ag retailers.

The survey also sought to uncover present-day limitations of precison ag and identify areas with growth potential to inform future investment in this technology at the retail level.

“The future of precision agriculture looks bright,” said Mitch Rezansoff, executive director of CAAR as he introduced Mitchell’s presentation at the 2020 CAAR Conference. “Its adoption presents unique challenges and opportunities for our industry.”

University of Guelph (U of G) student Sean Mitchell, a chancellor’s scholar research assistant in the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics took to the stage to present the results of the survey campaign. Mitchell says that with approximately a 10 per cent response rate from CAAR members, the U of G was able to have a fairly high level of confidence in the results, but Mitchell hopes to grow that response rate in future editions of the survey, which is slated to be carried out every second year.

For the purposes of the study, “precision ag” was defined as: “A combination of modern ag technologies and farm management systems based on the support of digitization and knowledge management of farming.” Mitchell said the overall goal of precision ag technology can “generally be summarized by saying it reduces input costs while optimizing farm profitability and minimizing the environment effects of agriculture.”

Mitchell further segmented these technologies into four categories:

  • Geographic,
  • Observational,
  • Variable Rate and,
  • Sales and Analytics Technologies.

See Fig. 1 for the current adoption rates of these technologies, grouped by the four categories above.

When it comes to challenges retailers may face to adopting precision ag technology, Mitchell says there are two types of barriers to adoption: barriers at the retail level, and producer-perceived barriers to precision ag implementation.

See Fig. 2 to see how your fellow CAAR members rated their barriers to adopting precision ag technology. Pricing competitiveness took the top spot, with 30 per cent of respondents citing pricing competitiveness as a barrier.

Visit to view the final report on the 2019 Precision Ag Survey, including perceived barriers to adoption precision ag technology at the grower level, and pricing structure for services. Full report available spring 2020.

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