Electrifying the Farm. In November, Elon Musk rolled out the electric Tesla Cybertruck, and though I am still uncertain how many of these we’ll see on the farm, I am certain we will see more electric equipment. The ag industry is long behind the automotive industry in delivering all-electric equipment. But that is slowly changing. Deere unveiled an electric tractor at Agritechnica, as well as an electric garden tractor. Fendt already sells an electric utility tractor. As climate change drives changes on the farm, we are going to see more electric-powered machines in the year ahead.
Livestock Tech. Perhaps because I attended the first ever Swine Innovation Summit, but I think we are starting to see livestock-tech catch up with row-crop tech. The fake-meat Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger both went mainstream in 2019 with much fan-fare. These alternative proteins are forcing the livestock industry to do a self-assessment and figure out ways to be better stewards of the land, reduce meat’s carbon footprint, and improve animal welfare. New technology plays a big role here.
Model Ag Data Use Agreement. One of my highlights from 2019 was the ability to release a “model” ag data use agreement. Attorneys never give away their forms, but that’s exactly what I did. Why? Because I am tired of so many companies not understanding farmers’ issues with ag data. It has been downloaded dozens of times and I can honestly say, has helped more than one company address ag data issues.
In spite of tariffs, trade, and weather problems, 2019 was a remarkable year for ag tech.