30 years ago a ship captain was a craftsman with specific knowledge and special skills – such a unique skill set was hard to find, difficult to replace and expensive to employ. Salaries varied from $10 k to $100 k per month (mostly based on a cruise by cruise basis) plus yearly and cruise bonuses in a form of unlimited power and influence.
Technological advancement has dramatically changed the situation: (e.g. GPS, navigation, unmanned steering, and computer based management and controlling systems) – all of these factors have contributed to captains shift to administrative rather than so called secret source craftsman. Captains’ salaries have considerably decreased and vessel owners are no longer dependant on employing a captain and at simultaneously reducing the level of human error.
There is a handful of such cases where new technology has changed the essence of certain professions. We searched for an answer to the question: are agronomists among those in the sphere of soon to be obsolete professions, and what technologies are implemented today to effectively replace one of the oldest professions on Earth.
Seed and crop protection with standardized application protocols.
Usually, all new seed, crop protection and other chemicals are supplied with recommended application protocols for a particular type of seed or chemical. Protocols are not always readily available for all regions, or for all types of production technologies, but, usually provide a sufficient explanation of the process making the specific knowledge of agronomists almost unnecessary.
If you use for example “no-till” and buy seeds from Syngenta or Pioneer, they usually offer you protocols or recommendations for application of particular seed, which has already been pretested on their fields. As previously mentioned, you do not need highly specific knowledge to follow the instructions, and if followed carefully, you will secure your harvest from the susceptibility of human error.
GPS navigation and remount on-vehicle sensors.
Controlling vehicles and equipment via GPS, in addition to numerous on board vehicle sensors (e.g. fuel consumption, VRA sensors and VRA dispensers), results in improved fcropi– primarily cost reduction.
Nowadays, almost all middle and large sized agricultural companies are using GPS systems and other sensors to control costs and improve efficiency. Usually systems management is conducted from the office and such operators are not required to have a specialized agronomy education.
Some onboard vehicle devices, like “green seekers”, can provide ready to use information for agronomists or even be incorporated in the production process with minimal human involvement.
Steering and parallel driving.
The system prevents overlapping on the fields and ensures even application while minimizing human involvement in on the field. This facilitates operations in terms of efficiency (no overlaps) while significantly lowering the probability of human error.
To reiterate, agronomists are not directly involved in the process, – everything is done automatically or with minimal effort with support of specialists that are far from the agronomist focus.
Satellite monitoring and field management systems.
These types of systems provide invaluable assistance to the agronomists and at the same serve as the biggest threat to their profession. Such systems can remotely measure all vital characteristics on the field and even more importantly provide recommendations for agronomists. Agronomists do not consider them to be as precise as a specialist with specific agronomist knowledge, but when looking at the big picture, it is evident that there is greater control, less cost and increased efficiency – this leaves little room for doubt from the owner’s perspective.
The companies, where Cropio is implemented, being that it is the most advanced from the series of solutions, are already faced with a significant drop of employed agronomists. Modern agronomists have been replaced with employees that can efficiently work with such field management systems. Resulting in 10%-30% increased growth in productivity with fewer expenses.
Agronomists, of course, still maintain a vital role in any agricultural company or farm, but their role is dramatically changing. With numerous new technological systems and precision agricultural techniques the process has become more standardized and predictable. Today, the new agronomist is rather an operator of different systems and technologies when compared to traditional agriculture craftsmen – those who are lagging behind in regards to implementing new technology will be left in the dust out of both profession and business.