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CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF FARMERS EDGE ISSUES 2020 PREDICTIONS IMPACTING AGRICULTURE
Source: Farmers Edge news release

Growers Will Need to Supply Data Directly as "Traceability" Becomes More Important. In 2020 and beyond, growers will play a bigger role in the agricultural value chain amid increasing consumer and industry demand for accurate and timely crop traceability.

Food companies are increasingly paying more attention to the "transparency generation," a category of consumers that make food purchase decisions based on its origin and how it is cultivated and packaged. Food companies also need to comply with increasing FDA regulations related to where their food comes from. Farmers will increasingly deal directly with food companies and suppliers and provide data directly from the farm, related to factors like fuel consumption or safety standards.

Crop Insurance and Financing Gets Personal in 2020. With the proliferation of digital farming tools leveraging field-level data and predictive models, growers now have the option to share their data with insurance and credit union finance partners -- but only if they opt in, and this will not be mandatory.

There will be new tailored offerings leveraging this rich new source of data, while offering better risk management and data transparency for more efficient, streamlined operations. The rise of digital farming will also enable emerging markets such as Brazil - which have little or no crop insurance today - to embrace new, data-driven insurance products.

Robots! Robots! Robots! In 2020, your next field scout could be more like R2D2 from Star Wars than the ag university student you normally hire each season to scout your fields. Labor shortages will most likely continue to grow in 2020, which will drive farmers to adopt more drones and we'll also see a dramatic increase in machine learning and AI being adopted to mine data for trends.

There is already automation in specialty crops like horticultural crops but we'll see this move to broadacre crops. We'll begin to see big farms in Montana, Saskatchewan and Brazil embrace automation as well, on a larger scale.

The Hemp "Green Rush Fever" Continues to Spread. 2020 will continue to see a dramatic increase in farmers shifting to hemp and CBD. We'll also see more hemp farmers turn to digital tools to determine if CBD levels are meeting state regulations. Because so little is known about hemp, being able to get more data - including digital imagery - will move the industry forward. The US market will increase and grow, some analysts are predicting over 100% by 2023.

Farmers Will Increasingly Seek New Data Sources for Yield Predictions. In 2020 there will be a growing desire to use data to get a higher level of accuracy, field by field. Growers need to understand their yield predictions before harvest so they can take advantage of markets and also get better insight into where the market is going, and weather is increasingly unpredictable. There is increasing impatience from farmers about the USDA WASDE numbers, and alternative data from non-government sources will become more widely available and used.

Drastic Weather Will Continue to Change the Rules in 2020. In 2020, more farmers will accept that they must prepare for more adverse weather events. Farmers will increasingly see data, and the investment in digital farming tools, as the best way to manage their operations and fight the effects of drastic weather.

For instance, on the heels of the exceptionally wet spring and summer of 2019, U.S. growers understand the limitations that local weather station data provided. Only on-farm weather capabilities, which can detect micro-changes in field conditions on a zone by zone basis, will provide the insight farmers need to manage more complex and nuanced weather-related decisions like planting and harvesting.


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