Ep. 43: What Does the Future of Ag Look Like? with Tim Hammerich
Accurately predicting the future is nearly impossible, but studying trends and learning what individuals and companies are working on can make envisioning what’s to come so much easier. In Episode 43 (the last Precision Points podcast of the year!), we are joined by Tim Hammerich from the Future of Ag podcast who shares some of the agriculture trends he thinks will play a big role in 2022. Here is just a snapshot of some of the things we discussed:
We’ve all noticed the constant addition of claims on our food labels. Tim predicts that we will continue to see more and more of this “data-back consumerism,” and he believes it’s an area where precision agriculture has the opportunity to play a significant role.
“What's interesting about [data-backed consumerism] – and it definitely intersects with the work that you do – is we're starting to see, in my opinion, a market that is willing to pay more for data-backed production,” Tim explained. “Instead of marketing, instead of labels that tell a cute story, [people are asking] ‘What's the data? What can you tell me about the carbon footprint? What can you tell me about water use? What can you tell me about input utilization and efficiency?’”
Our conversation about data-backed consumerism led directly to sustainability, since many of the data points consumers are interested in have to do with the environmental impact of food production. Tim mentioned that, while he used to talk about sustainability and precision agriculture as separate topics, he is now seeing these two concepts weave together more often.
“All this conversation about carbon offsets and carbon markets – what I'm more interested in is carbon-neutral supply chains,” he shared. “I think we're going to see a lot more brands lead with that, and that requires data. You can't do that without knowing how the inputs are farmed in my opinion.”
The next trend Tim thinks we will see more of in 2022 is open-source agriculture. Again, this could have a big impact in precision agriculture specifically. Open-source agriculture is where someone is working on something – for example, a new software resource or a new app – and shares it online to a platform that allows others to contribute to the initial design. Collectively, people can work together to solve problems without having to be backed by a large venture capital company.
“I was thinking, what are some alternative models for developing technology that actually work, but that don't need millions of dollars? I found what the open-source community is doing and found it really, really fascinating,” Tim said.
Automation has been a hot topic on Precision Points, and Tim believes we will continue to see lots of work being done in this area in 2022. He shared excitement around companies like Rantizo, GUSS and Burro and, from Tim’s perspective, he thinks small wins will be key to adoption of automation in agriculture.
“Burro is one that I think is a great example of the stair step it's going to take to get to more autonomy in agriculture,” started Tim. “Basically, they're just like a small robotic cart. Think of a four-wheeler, but just a flatbed on top of it, that follows pickers around in the field. And then it takes [produce] from where it's picked to where it's packed. What I think is great about [Burro] is it's a low cost way to get these units out into the field and start collecting data. But it also gives an instant ROI because you're saving on labor which, for those growers, is their biggest cost.”
Finally, Tim shared that water is going to continue being a conversation that stays in the forefront next year. He mentioned some companies that are doing interesting work in water conservation, specifically using Internet of Things (IoT) sensor-based decision making.
“Water is tricky because it doesn't follow, necessarily, the same free market that other products follow because it's so intertwined with being a public good and policies,” said Tim. “So what can we do? We can try to improve our own water use efficiency to the best of our ability. And I think that there's still room there for new technologies to help us do that.”
We hope this gives you some insight into what to expect from 2022. As Tim mentioned in our conversation, he doesn’t expect a dramatic change as soon as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, but he definitely sees the conversations on these topics continuing into the next 12 months. To learn more about Tim and the work he is doing, check out the Future of Ag. To hear more details from our conversation, tune into Episode 43 of Precision Points.
Happy New Year!
Host: Morgan Seger
Morgan Seger grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio before studying agriculture at The Ohio State University. She spent 10 years working with ag retail – specifically in ag tech – prior to hosting the Precision Points Podcast. She lives and farms in western Ohio with her husband Ben and their four children. Morgan has her own blog, Heart and Soil, where she talks about her experience farming, gardening, and raising her family.
Guest: Tim Hammerich
Tim Hammerich is a former ag commodity trader turned entrepreneur. He is the host of one of agriculture’s most popular podcasts, The Future of Agriculture. Today he serves as the Senior Director of Strategic Communications for Cogent Consulting and Communications, Inc, where he helps companies and organizations engage with agricultural stakeholders.
Host: Morgan Seger
Guest: Tim Hammerich
Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Precision Points, an ag tech podcast, where we plant seeds of innovation to inspire informed decisions about precision technology and its impact for growers like you. We explore precision ag tools and technology from the soil to the sky with your host Morgan Seger.
Morgan Seger (00:23):
Welcome back to Precision Points, an ag tech podcast from precisionagreviews.com. I'm your host Morgan Seger. In each episode, we strive to bring you unbiased ag tech information and ideas. Today is our last episode of 2021, and we thought what better to wrap up the year than to talk about the future of ag.
Morgan Seger (00:44):
So today on the show, I am joined by Tim Hammerich, the podcast host of The Future of Ag. We talk about trends that we are seeing, and it's really a pretty wide-ranging conversation, from things we're seeing in precision ag around autonomy, to open source ag tech, water quality, and more. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Tim.
Morgan Seger (01:06):
Welcome back to Precision Points. Today on the show I'm joined by Tim Hammerich, the host of The Future of Ag podcast. Tim, welcome to the show.
Tim Hammerich (01:15):
Thanks for having me, Morgan.
Morgan Seger (01:17):
So I'm excited to kind of round out this entire year with some perspective on what the future of ag looks like. I wanted to kind of just start off by saying thank you. So the podcast that you have, The Future of Ag, is one of the most prolific and consistent podcasts I think we have in our industry. I know I personally am just really grateful for the information that you've provided, so I just wanted to say thanks for all of the work that you're putting out.
Tim Hammerich (01:44):
Shoot. Thank you. No, I appreciate you saying that. I feel like it's selfish because whenever somebody thanks me, it's like I definitely get the most value from it of anybody. So I appreciate you saying that though.
Morgan Seger (01:57):
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And on your podcast, you definitely talk about more than precision ag. So today, as we work through our conversation, we might be talking about things outside of just the niche of precision ag. And I think that our audience will be really welcome to hear the overall trends going on in ag. Before we dive into that, could you kick us off by just sharing some of your background for people who are maybe meeting you for the first time?
Tim Hammerich (02:20):
Yeah, I am from California originally. I grew up on a very small, very specialized farm. We raised livestock, mostly for ethnic markets. So pigs and goats for Hispanic markets and ducks for Asian markets in the North Bay of California. So we had very, very little acreage, but we made the most of it. And then my dad had a day job, but it was actually a night job. He worked nights and then did that during the day.
Tim Hammerich (02:44):
So my exposure to agriculture from an early age was direct to consumer. I got to see sort of everything. We would have a ranch butcher come out and do the processing and the customer literally carry the meat away from our place. So that gave me one interesting vantage point into agriculture. But then after graduating college, I sort of went to the other side of the spectrum.
Tim Hammerich (03:04):
I got a job as a grain merchandiser in West Texas with DeBruce grain company, which is now part of Gavilon. I spent the first eight years of my career buying and selling grain and feed ingredients. Was based not only in Texas, but also in Kansas and in Nebraska at different points in my career. So got to see both the direct to consumer then sort of large commodity agriculture as well.
Tim Hammerich (03:27):
In 2015, I started a company of my own called Ag Grad, ended up selling the book of business from that company, it was a recruiting company, sold the book of business last year. And now I do full-time consulting on communications. I get to do not only the podcast that you mentioned, but also partner with other brands that want podcasts of their own, and do a lot of writing, and consulting on sharing the message of agriculture.
Morgan Seger (03:51):
Yeah. Awesome. Well, you have a really interesting background. I didn't realize that you had been to so many different places. So you've got to see ag from a lot of different angles then.
Tim Hammerich (03:59):
I did. In fact, when I was with DeBruce, I was based in the headquarters in Kansas City. At one point I was buying and selling grain in Illinois and Indiana and a little tiny bit into Western Ohio. So is it upper Sandusky? I remember there was some sort of processing plant in upper Sandusky and Washington Court House. I remember some of those sort of Ohio towns, but mostly I was focused in Illinois and Indiana.
Morgan Seger (04:24):
Gotcha. Yep. Those are very familiar, very big ag towns for us.
Tim Hammerich (04:27):
Morgan Seger (04:30):
Awesome. So it's interesting that you have this direct to consumer kind of background, because I feel like from my perspective, that's where I'm seeing some of these trends go. Before we go maybe there, can you just share, as you are interviewing and having these conversations with people on your show across the country, and really across the world, are there any key trends that you've noticed that you think will be important for growers to really keep an eye on as we go into 2022?
Tim Hammerich (05:00):
Yeah. Timing's always the hard part. So when I mention trends, look to keep an eye going into 2022, I don't know that we're going to see a dramatic shift as soon as the apple drops in New York City and it's 2022. I don't know that these are dramatic shifts that we'll see overnight or even in the course of one year.
Tim Hammerich (05:17):
But I definitely think there are things to keep an eye on. And the one you just mentioned is certainly one of them, and not necessarily direct to consumer, but value add. So what are ways that we can not only improve the bottom line through efficiencies and cost savings, which over time the ag industry's done a tremendous job at. Productivity and cost savings.
Tim Hammerich (05:38):
But what are the ways we can improve the top line? How can we add value to continue to serve a market? What's interesting about that, and it definitely intersects with the work that you do, is we're starting to see in my opinion, a market that is willing to pay more for data-backed production. And what I mean by that is instead of marketing, instead of labels that tell a cute story, it's okay what's the data? What can you tell me about the carbon footprint? What can you tell me about water use? What can you tell me about inputs utilization and efficiency?
Tim Hammerich (06:11):
And as food companies and even consumers want to start having that story, that's where precision ag I think plays a central role. And I don't know, you know if you've heard my show, I talk a lot about sustainability and I talk a lot about ag tech and it's been that way for five years. And I feel like just this past year, they've really started to intersect rather than being like, okay, today we're going to do a show on sustainability. And today we're going to do a show on ag tech. It's like, okay, I see where they're actually weaving together, and I think that's an exciting trend for all of us in agriculture.
Morgan Seger (06:44):
Yeah. I agree. I actually had a question written down about the impact that these trends could have on sustainability. And I think you're right. We've approached sustainability at least when I was working in ag retail, it always felt like here's the things we need to be doing, but we never had the data to back it up. And now it does kind of feel like the data's kind of meeting with where agronomically we had some of these ideas or solutions. So do you have anyone that has like experienced the benefit of the synergy you're seeing?
Tim Hammerich (07:17):
Yeah, I think so. A just really, really recent example because they just happened in the past week. Last week on the show, we featured a group called Calgren Dairy Fuels, which is a group of dairy farmers in California that are basically selling this low carbon fuel stock to the state of California and getting money from basically their digesters. The crux of the episode is digesters have been around forever. There's horror stories about trying them out and they're not lasting. And they're kind of finding ways. And part of the ways that they're finding to use these digesters and dairies right now is because there's a market. Because there's actually demand that says, okay, if you can prove where this renewable fuel came from. There's these renewable fuel standards that create this market.
Tim Hammerich (08:04):
So that's certainly one. And then just because it happened yesterday, I saw an article from Fast Company, a new company also the dairy space called Neutral, that is marketing carbon neutral milk. And so they are validating from these dairy farms their practices, and somehow getting their equation to carbon neutral. I don't know how they're doing it, but I do think all this conversation about carbon offsets and carbon markets, what I'm more interested in is carbon neutral supply chains. I think we're going to see a lot more brands lead with that, and that requires data. I mean, you can't do that without knowing how the inputs are farmed in my opinion.
Morgan Seger (08:46):
Yeah. I agree completely. It's interesting that you're seeing so many, or the two examples, at least that you referenced are in dairy. Because dairy is one industry that has went through a ton of changes lately. It's interesting to me, it feels like they're kind of revolutionizing what they're doing to make sure that they're still relevant. I think that's kind of cool.
Tim Hammerich (09:05):
It is. And another reason I like dairy, I'm not from a dairy background, but what I love about it is their feedback loop. They "harvest" three times a day, right? And so their feedback loop from production practices to harvest is really, really rapid and short and happening every eight hours. And I think there's a lot of lessons there that the rest of us that maybe only get one harvest a year can learn from.
Morgan Seger (09:27):
Yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting perspective. So anything else? What other trends are you seeing?
Tim Hammerich (09:33):
Yeah. I think that's a big one. One that's been fun for me lately too, has been open source agriculture, specifically open source ag tech. I sort of stumbled on it because I was kind of tired of the venture backed rat race that that was out there. Just like, hey, unless you can tell a story that sounds huge, you don't belong here. And that doesn't to me fit a lot of agricultural context. Especially I tend to work a lot with specialty crops. And so like the strawberry market is not huge, right?
Tim Hammerich (10:04):
So I was thinking like, what are some alternative models for developing technology that actually work, that don't need millions of dollars? And I sort of found what the open source community is doing and found it really, really fascinating. And for those that may not be familiar, open source would be perhaps one person that's kind of tinkering with a technology by themselves, maybe developing code, or in some cases we just featured one that was doing their own see and spray technology on a very small scale. Posting that project publicly to a place, to like GitHub and attracting other developers, hopefully farmers, but even people from outside of agriculture to work on it, and iterate it, and improve it over time.
Tim Hammerich (10:46):
Depending on how the licensing is kind of set up, that can be commercialized or not. But everybody sort of gets access to the original source code to enable, to improve upon it. So we just featured the open weed locator, which is that see and spray technology. Ag open GPS is probably the best example of this that I could think of in ag. Brian Tischler in Canada who developed his own auto steer and now his own autonomy for his tractors. And he would hate that I just said he developed it himself, because he didn't. The open source community did together. So I find that to be a really exciting trend in agriculture that maybe we're not talking about enough.
Morgan Seger (11:23):
Yeah. That's interesting. And to me, it just feels like it would make things more accessible. I feel like that's come across on our podcast a couple of times throughout the year is like the way technology is changing. So this open source and ag tech, even like autonomous vehicles had the opportunity to make like data collection more accessible to growers that maybe couldn't have leveraged acres to justify input cost and things like that like they had in the past. Actually, in our last episode we just wrapped up the like five most exciting things that people shared on our podcast, and all five of them had something to do with robotics or automation. So what are you seeing there?
Tim Hammerich (12:05):
Yeah, no, it is exciting. It's something where like anything else it's not there yet. And so there's going to be a lot of successes and there's going to be some failures and it's going to take time. But let's see, you've had Rantizo on the show. Rantizo is a company and a technology that I'm really excited about. Similarly, Precision AI doing something similar up in Canada. The drone spraying and the automation that can come from the automated mix and fill and the swarming. That's all really cool. And that to me is about as close as it comes.
Tim Hammerich (12:40):
As we're recording this today, my episode tomorrow is with GUSS, which is an automated sprayer in orchards, well, mostly in the west coast and in Florida. But basically it's a totally self-contained unmanned sprayer. And so they're spraying orchards with this. It's really developing traction and adoption, not just something that you take from farm show to farm show and show off. So like people are actually buying and using it, and it's really kind of exciting to see that.
Tim Hammerich (13:08):
Now, you know, there are going to be cool things that do go from farm show to farm show, and look cool, and never get anywhere. There's certainly going to be those stories as well. But I think it's exciting to think about automation augmenting what we already do. Are we close to a fully autonomous combine? Not that I know of. But could we add maybe a Rover that would go out and allow us to kind of plant site specific plant by plant precision? I think that's kind of interesting to your point earlier about the data collection. I'll mention one more if that's okay.
Morgan Seger (13:46):
Tim Hammerich (13:47):
Burro. Burro is one that I, I think is a great example of the stair step it's going to take to get to more autonomy in agriculture. They're in specialty crops as well, mostly table grapes and berries. But basically they're just like a small robotic cart. Think of like a four-wheeler but just a flatbed on top of it, that follows around pickers in the field. And then it takes it from where it's picked to where it's packed.
Tim Hammerich (14:10):
And what I think is great about it is it's a low cost way to get these units out into the field, start collecting data. But it also gives an instant ROI because you're saving on labor, which for those growers is their biggest cost.
Tim Hammerich (14:26):
So I think thinking about things like that, that can both have instant ROI, but also just the beginning of where it can go once you start collecting data out there consistently. You know, I'd like to see more sort of go that route and it's not always easy, but I think that's probably the way that things go from here.
Morgan Seger (14:43):
Yeah. Well, and I like that mindset. I had never actually thought about it like that. You know, it's just those little things that will help build confidence so as we add the technologies, it's not this giant leap. And maybe it comes back to this venture backed rat race you were talking about. Lots of times when we have these ideas, we say, and then it can do this and this and this and this and things snowball in our brains so quickly that we want it to do all of those things right away. But like practical application in the field to help us build confidence, and too, we really like ace those things and figure them out. I think that makes a lot of sense.
Tim Hammerich (15:19):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think what you all are doing to try to bring visibility to what's actually happening in the field is really, really important, too, to build that confidence. That is certainly something that has been lacking in our industry is the validation piece. And then you find a technology and you don't know where to go to figure out if it's valid at all. You try it out, it doesn't work. Then you have a bad experience and it's harder to even bring yourself to try something new again. So I think that's an important piece to the puzzle that I know you all are working on.
Morgan Seger (15:49):
Yeah. Well, thanks. So anything outside of precision ag that you think just as an industry, we need to be keeping an eye on?
Tim Hammerich (15:57):
Yeah. We touched on it a little bit already, but the ecosystem services conversation about viewing ag as not just a producer of low cost, high quality, consistent food, but also as a solution for some of our more systemic problems, be it climate change, or water quality, or that sort of thing. That's something that is complicated because it's going to have to have a policy component to it, I think. But certainly under the current administration, I think that there is appetite for more and more policy to that end of looking at agriculture that way.
Tim Hammerich (16:35):
That plays into the sort of the value add conversation of we don't just need to produce as much as possible, but we need to produce quality. And both quality in terms of product, but also quality in terms of practices, and the impact we have sustainably. Sorry if I'm using a lot of those cringeworthy buzzwords there. But I think it's an important part of where things go from here. And it represents a paradigm shift of how we look at farming in a lot of ways.
Tim Hammerich (17:05):
So I think that's an interesting one. To put an example on that, and this is one of my favorite examples because it's really niche and it's a little bit different than the carbon trading that you're hearing about everywhere. There's a company called Blue Nest Beef. So what Blue Nest Beef does is they certify their ranches with the Audubon Society of certified upland bird habitat. So upland bird habitat to try to bring back this habitat for these birds that the populations have been decimated.
Tim Hammerich (17:38):
And so on one hand, it's the rancher basically agrees to certain standards to provide this habitat. On the other hand, they get quite a bit of a big premium for their beef and then this Audubon Society has a built-in market for it. So you're not just trying to go door-to-door to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and see if they'll pay a premium. You've got this built-in market.
Tim Hammerich (17:59):
So these types of collaborations that maybe aren't two groups that would've collaborated in the past where you're providing more return to growers and you're providing an ecological service. I think just one really niche example of what's possible when it comes to looking at farms that way.
Morgan Seger (18:15):
That's interesting. So when you think of this like ecosystem as a whole, what do you think some of the biggest hurdles will be for growers that are maybe wanting to adopt some of this, or become a part of a market like that, but don't know where to start?
Tim Hammerich (18:31):
Yeah, I think it's going to be in the data and validation. The first place is probably going to be in the data and validation. So that's something we're certainly wrestling with right now when it comes to carbon credits. It's like, okay, what can you tell me about how do I know carbon is being sequestered? How do I know it's staying there? And can we really just trust, hey you planted a cover crop so X amount of carbon is being sequestered. Not really, right? That's going to really vary based on a lot of other factors.
Tim Hammerich (18:56):
And so having the ability to collect that data and provide the validation to the end user, and build trust in it as an asset is going to be critical. In this case, a company like Blue Nest Beef had to partner with the Audubon Society to provide the validation, the actual inspection and validation. That doesn't scale very well. Right?
Tim Hammerich (19:17):
So if we're really going to do this where farmers are regularly going to get paid for the carbon they're sequestering, it needs to be a system that scales a lot better. It has to be a lot more automated. So that's going to be one huge barrier I know there's a lot of smart people trying to tackle right now, but we're certainly not there yet.
Morgan Seger (19:33):
When I was still working in ag retail, we were trying to tackle some of these like data collection and validation problems. And I'm kind of like in a position now where I don't really know where they're at. Like I haven't heard a lot that anyone's like really solved it yet. So it makes sense.
Tim Hammerich (19:49):
Yeah. I mean, most of it seems to be very practices based. So reducing tillage, cover crops, etc. And it comes from backing into how much carbon that probably is sequestered. But yeah, the outcome based rewards, I think, still have a ways to go is my understanding, but I don't know.
Morgan Seger (20:06):
Yep. A question around like your process for staying on top of all of this. You seem to have interesting people and interesting conversations. So if there's someone who's trying to stay on top of this with all of the information that's out there, how do you suggest they go about finding like relevant and trustworthy information if they're trying to make some of these decisions?
Tim Hammerich (20:29):
That's such a good question. Well, let me first say, I think that there's a lack of it. I think there's a lack of good information, good, consistent high quality information out there. In fact, I was just having this conversation today. Someone was saying that they were writing for publication about ag tech, and things had changed, and they were looking for where else can I write and submit work? And they didn't want kind of the traditional farm media outlets. They kind of wanted more ag tech focused.
Tim Hammerich (20:59):
And there really, there really aren't enough, frankly. So I have a hard time keeping on top of things. For me, I was never the best student in school. I kind of need this back and forth interaction and connection for me to really kind of get it. And so selfishly launching the podcast was my way of like just going out and asking people questions that I didn't understand.
Tim Hammerich (21:23):
And that's going to be different for every person. If you're an auditory type learner type person, you've got obviously this podcast. You've got Farm Bits, mine, The Future of Agriculture. There's a couple others. AgTech. So What is another one. Modern Acres, another one that focuses on ag. There's others out there too, that I'm just less familiar with.
Tim Hammerich (21:46):
So for me being podcast person, I listen to a lot of podcasts. YouTube though. I love YouTube. I mean, YouTube's the best. If you know what you're looking for, I think YouTube's the best place to get information, because you can not only hear it and see it, but it also has really powerful search to find the answers.
Tim Hammerich (22:02):
But I wish there was more. I wish I could go on for 10 minutes on answering this question, but I kind of run out really quickly. I do think that there's an opportunity to bridge the gap between the really high quality research that's coming out of the universities and extension. Extension is there obviously disseminating it on a local level, but maybe on more kind of a media side to sort of bridge that gap. But I don't know if anybody's quite doing that yet.
Morgan Seger (22:27):
Yeah. That makes sense. I've had a couple of university folks on this show and those interviews are always so interesting because it's stuff that's really fascinating, really deep work. But you just don't always hear about it.
Tim Hammerich (22:39):
Morgan Seger (22:39):
So I think you have a good point.
Tim Hammerich (22:42):
I love interviewing researchers and people at the university because you never have to worry about like hitting the layer of depth of their understanding. You can just kind of keep asking and asking and asking and they're happy to kind of go deeper. That I think the podcast medium is just really well suited for, of just digging a little bit deeper. And so yeah, I'm with you. I love interviewing university people.
Morgan Seger (23:09):
Yeah. So anything else, any other trends or anything that you would consider noteworthy for the future of ag?
Tim Hammerich (23:19):
I think one thing that I'm trying to understand a little bit better is this concept of, I guess what I'll sum up as decentralization, kind of web three, of blockchain. Like where does this really start to hit us, and does it? And I don't know that I have an answer for that. So that's something I'm just kind of like wondering about. Some people will call it disintermediation of like, do we really need all these middlemen in all of our agricultural processes?
Tim Hammerich (23:54):
I think I've gone back and forth on that. I think a couple years ago, I thought we didn't, that technology would sort of like cut out more middlemen. And now I'm more on the opinion of like, no, agriculture's pretty dang efficient. It doesn't have a bunch of middlemen that don't belong there taking a bunch of value.
Tim Hammerich (24:12):
Now I know you'll hear the food dollar argument of like how little of the food dollar farmers get. But there's also a lot of value that takes place between the farm and the consumer. So I don't know. I think I've maybe changed my mind on that a little bit, of thinking like agriculture's pretty darn efficient and maybe there are other ways we can add value rather than trying to whittle out a little bit more out of a pretty efficient process.
Tim Hammerich (24:41):
That's kind of heady. I don't know if that really is tangible enough to take anything away from, but that's a peek inside what I'm thinking about a little bit. Is maybe a lot of this ag tech that we've seen, and this would be outside of precision ag to an extent, but maybe applies as well, is trying to make a really, really, really efficient process just a little bit more efficient. And maybe that's not enough of a value proposition to really be adopted.
Morgan Seger (25:11):
Gotcha. Well, that's something that I'll make a note of to continue watching your content for. So as this kind of evolves into your opinion officially, then I'll be sure to take note because that's one thing when it comes to that decentralization and blockchain and stuff that I've kind of stayed away from on the podcast, because I don't understand how it kind of plugs in and brings a real value. I know, was it maybe three or four years ago, was when we really started talking about it a lot and that all of the precision ag conferences you would hear people kind of mentioning it, but not with a lot of depth around context of how it would actually apply like at the farm gate. So.
Tim Hammerich (25:52):
Right. But to kind of just touch on one that we already have. Automation is not going away. The labor situation, especially out west where I am, is significant. It's crisis levels in some cases.
Tim Hammerich (26:08):
If I could just kind one more kind of future of agriculture trend or something to watch, is water. It may be a little bit different out your way where people are probably putting in tile and that sort of thing. Out where I am, it's water use efficiency. It's a lot of pressure from our urban neighbors of like, who's going to get the water when it starts to run low. And we definitely see that. So that's something I'm thinking a lot about right now, is what does water use efficiency look like?
Tim Hammerich (26:34):
And water's tricky because it doesn't follow necessarily the same free market that other products follow. Because it's so intertwined with being a public good and policies. So what can we do? We can try to improve our own water use efficiency to the best of our ability. And I think that there's still room there for new technologies to help us do that.
Morgan Seger (26:57):
Anyone that you know of that's working in that area right now that we could maybe follow along with?
Tim Hammerich (27:03):
Oh yeah. So there's a whole bunch that are taking different approaches. I have a big recency bias. It's kind of whenever I try to think of anything, it's like, oh, I can remember what I've talked about this week. So this week, I've been really impressed by a company called FloraPulse. What they do is actually install a sensor on a tree or vine. And what that sensor does is it essentially gives you water potential. It can basically track when a tree is stressed throughout the day. You can see when a tree is stressed and when they're not, so that you can irrigate based on what the tree or vine is telling you, rather than on like, this is my irrigation schedule.
Tim Hammerich (27:50):
So that's obviously going to be different based on different soils. It's going to be different based on the plant itself. So they basically install these sensors. And they do the same thing with other sensors, like dendrometers. High tech dendrometers that do similar, although they're not directly measuring the water potential like FloraPulse is.
Tim Hammerich (28:07):
But anyway, that's an interesting thing. It's plant based irrigation scheduling. So let the tree or vine tell you when it needs the water. I think that's big in some of those specialty crops, for sure.
Morgan Seger (28:22):
Yeah. That's interesting. Taking notes of that because we are in the part of the world over here where we're talking more about putting drainage controls on and things like that. So it's definitely kind of a different angle, but still water quality is a big topic here. So.
Tim Hammerich (28:37):
Sure. Yeah, absolutely.
Morgan Seger (28:39):
Great. Well, anything else you want to add?
Tim Hammerich (28:41):
Oh gosh. No. I hope some of that's usable. I just felt like I was just kind of all over the place, but I hope some of that's helpful for your listeners.
Morgan Seger (28:51):
Yeah, no, for sure. I feel like you packed a lot into there that we can kind of work through and continue to keep an eye on. So I really appreciate that. If someone wants to follow along with your work, or learn more about you, where would you suggest they go?
Tim Hammerich (29:05):
I'm on Twitter and LinkedIn. I'm not on any other platforms really. You can always email me as well. Just email@example.com. And yeah, that'd probably be best.
Morgan Seger (29:16):
Okay. Well, I am so grateful for your time today and I appreciate all of the insights and ideas you gave us.
Tim Hammerich (29:22):
You're welcome, and sorry for the baby in the background. Hopefully that wasn't too loud.
Morgan Seger (29:26):
You know, I didn't hear it. And I have four, so I get it.
Tim Hammerich (29:30):
Okay, great. Great. Yeah, no, thanks for having me on the show, Morgan, really appreciate it.
Morgan Seger (29:32):
Morgan Seger (29:34):
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Precision Points. We are so grateful for the time you spend with us, and I hope you enjoyed that wide-ranging conversation that we had with Tim Hammerich from The Future of Ag. In the show notes today, I will do my best to link out to all of the different podcast guests that he has had so you can tune into his episodes as well and learn about some of the resources that he mentioned throughout the show.
Morgan Seger (29:58):
Our show notes are always available at precisionagreviews.com. While you're there, check out our grower sourced reviews. The goal behind precision ag reviews is to help growers like you get information they need to make precision ag decisions. We hope the content that we're putting out is helpful for you, and we hope you have a happy and healthy 2022. Let's grow together.
Speaker 1 (30:23):
Thanks for tuning in to today's episode. To hear more podcasts like this, please rate, review and subscribe to Precision Points. Visit precisionagreviews.com for show notes from this episode, and read expert advice on the blog, share your experience with the precision ag products you use, and check out our network of farmer reviews. Let's grow together.