From Precision Ag to Decision Ag

Thursday – May 30, 2019  •  9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Frederick Community Collge – Student Center (campus map)
7932 Opossumtown Pike, Frederick, MD 21702

REGISTRATION FEE – $20 per person  (includes lunch)



Draft Agenda

(still in development – updates made when confirmed)

9:00 a.m.

Registration and Refreshments

9:30 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:45 a.m.

Orientation on F³ Tech Initiative - Update on current activities and outcomes in the F³ Tech (Farm-Fish-Food) initiative, a statewide private/public initiative that is creating a new renaissance of economic growth and prosperity through innovation and technology built upon Maryland’s traditional industries of agriculture and seafood. The overall program is a pipeline of three components through which entrepreneurs, innovators, startups, and existing businesses go through the proof-of-concept and commercialization of new product and service ideas and innovations. The initiative includes partners and resources from throughout Maryland.
Presenters:  Mike Thielke, Executive Director for Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center - Easton, MD
                           Andrew Rose, Director of Innovation, Strategy and Development for MidAtlantic Farm Credit - Bel Air, MD

10:15 a.m.

Session 1: Precision Ag Changing to Decision Ag
Farming has entered a period when data convergence, collection and storage are headed toward synchronization. The computer processing power related to data enables extensive analytics and wider insights to push yields, not only on individual farms, but as an aggregate from operations with similar climates and soil types to offer benchmarking.
Presenter: To be confirmed

11:15 a.m.


11:30 a.m.

Session 2: Big Data Analytics in Decision Ag
Big data and analytics are helping to improve and transform a multitude of industries in the modern world. The most impactful thing such technologies do is provide detailed and real-time insights into operational and financial activities. In agriculture, this very thing is playing out as we speak. Every grower has a goal for their operation. Some of the more commonly cited are around improving profitability and efficiency, reducing the cost of an operation, or increasing product value. To achieve each goal, growers must make better decisions and move beyond the use of general knowledge from ground experiments, which can only carry them so far. No business is the same, and there is now an increasing need for information generated in a location-specific manner, providing a solution which fits in line with what each grower needs. Through big data and connected devices, every one of the goals around profitability, efficiency and cost management are not only achievable, but completely realistic. The question is less about whether or not the technology offers benefits — it indeed does — and more about the “how” it achieves such a thing. In this session, we will discuss few ways in which big data in agriculture is improving conditions or operations.
Presenter: Sri Sabesan, Chief Executive Officer for Tier 1 Digital - Milpitas, CA

12:30 a.m.

LUNCH – grab a box lunch or salad and take it with you to a Table Topic Discussion

12:45 p.m.

Lunch & Table Top Discussions (Round 1) - Four topics for attendees to share and learn. Join others in discussing, exploring, and learning about topics of common interest. Subject matter experts will be available to assist with discussions.

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY - Synthetic biology is one of the fastest growing and most exciting areas of science — and a perfect example of next-generation innovation. Combining disciplines like biology, design, engineering and software development, synbio allows us to shape natural systems and even create entirely new ones from scratch. Any new or disruptive technology that threatens the status quo can cause confusion and even spark controversy, but in the case of synbio, there is potential to help solve some of the biggest problems we face in the food and agriculture industry. How can Maryland’s existing life science and biotech sector participate in this expanding sector?

PRECISION/DECISION TECH - To date, precision ag industry sales have been driven by hardware (auto-guidance, precision planting tech or many others), but currently most machines are manufactured with precision hardware in place, and ag professionals are eyeing continued growth sources. Kevin Monk, senior associate, Context Network, says the stage is set to look at overall data services in determining what can be done to benchmark operations and bring maximum returns to growers. “Most precision ag payback has been found in efficiency returns and lowering costs. However, with data management and analysis, the focus is going to switch back to improving yields. A century back, farmers went from mules to tractors in the mechanized agriculture jump. Mechanized ag faded as a term when tractors became standard fare. Precision ag is approaching the same point of redundancy. “Precision ag will morph into the norm that everyone uses in their fields,” Pendleton explains. “Precision ag and decision ag are addictive, and the more you know, the more you want. The more you know, the more you use.” How can Maryland’s existing IT and cybertech sectors respond to these opportunities?

MILLENIAL FARMING (agriculture or aquaculture) - Millennial farmers/growers have a slew of characteristics that help them farm successfully, especially when it comes to modern farming and growing techniques. For one, they are a connected group. According to consumer data collected by, millennials own an average of 7.7 Internet-connected devices and use 3.3 of those devices daily. That means millennial farmers/growers are adept at using the agri- and aqua- technology that has been shown to have a real impact on the success of farming and growing, such as hyper-local weather apps, precision farming technology, sensors and real-time analysis, and more. What innovations and technologies are millennial farmers/growers looking for to make them more productive, sustainable, and profitable?

AUTONOMOUS TECHNOLOGIES - Over the last 20 years, there has been a major shift in technology applied to agriculture that has significantly increased efficiency, with greater output (crop yields) produced for less inputs (seed/fertilizer) per acre of land. GPS technology has facilitated precision agriculture techniques and technology that have been a large factor into increasing efficiency, with functions such as auto-steer, variable rate application, prescription application, overlap control, and many others. This has enabled the ability to apply the right amount of inputs based on soil and moisture conditions in the right place to optimize yields. While GPS technology has now become well established, there have been major advances recently in Internet of Things (IoT), machine automation, and data management (big data) technology that are now ready to come together to make autonomous machine operation in agriculture a reality. The path towards highly automated and autonomous machines in agriculture is complex, but will evolve quickly due to the real and demonstrable value that it offers. Farmers are known to be willing innovators to try new technologies that promise new efficiency and increased profitability, but this needs to be proven and reliable to be accepted. As well, new technology must work with existing infrastructure and machines, as the move to autonomy will happen over time. What disruptive innovations and technologies can Maryland originate in autonomous agriculture and aquaculture? and technologies are millennial farmers/growers looking for to make them more productive, sustainable, and profitable?

1:30 p.m.

Lunch & Table Top Discussions (Round 2) - A repeat of the above topics allowing for attendees to participate in a second discussion.

2:15 p.m.


2:30 p.m.

Session 3: What Does the Future of Production Agriculture Look Like - What Role Will Autonomy Play
Autonomy is one of many factors that will change the landscape of the future of Production Ag. However, there are many areas of technology that have developed significantly in the last few years that also add significant improvements to our operations before we reach autonomy. Three of these areas include:
Internet of Things (IoT) and Connectivity
     • Telematics for Agronomic, Animal, and Equipment Services
     • Remote Management
     • Marketing and Sales
Data Analytics (Big Data)
     • What is the value in what’s collected and what gaps do we need to collect?
     • How do we manage data and security?
     • Sources of data; human, machine, satellite, sensor, history
Machine Automation
     • Increase quality and consistency of product
     • Increase safety in operation and in food safety
Agriculture will be in greater need of autonomy and autonomous vehicles more than any other industry. Especially as we look to find a solution to meeting the world's demand for quantity and quality of food for the growing population. A few of the topics that drive this conversation are:
     • What are the labor needs, costs, and how do we compete for labor?
     • Need to increase technology to compensate for operator skill variability
     • Autonomy can be a force multiplier, limited weather windows
     • Get more time back for the farms to be with family, quality of life
     • Cost- Where are the cost savings and where are the additional costs?
Presenter: Luke Zerby, PLM Marketing Manager for CNH Industrial - New Holland, PA

3:30 p.m.