Precison ag survey seeks more input

A survey on western Canadian farmers’ use of precision agricultural technology is winding its way to completion.

Before it does, Dale Steele wants to encourage farmers of all kinds to respond, whether or not they use many or any precision tools or none at all.

Steele, an agronomist well versed in agricultural technology, was contracted by Agriculture Canada to organize the study and analyze its results.

That analysis will be used to inform national agricultural policy, including Growing Forward 3.

“Everyone has their own opinions as to what the current adoption rates are for all types of tools and technology but nobody really knows,” said Steele.

There’s really been no study like this of its kind that’s ever been done before.

“The provinces and the feds are working on Growing Forward funding and without a benchmark study for Western Canada to know where farms are at — what are current adoption rates, what tools are they using — it’s hard to implement new programs and policy. So it’s pretty important for the farmers if we can get a good study.”

The online survey queries farmers on such things as whether they find precision tools useful, whether they soil test, use variable rate crop inputs, collect yield data and/or use apps and software to manage their operations.

It also asks if farmers are satisfied with their internet speeds and cellular data coverage.

“We’re trying to make it as broad as possible to identify what are the barriers and opportunities in western Canadian ag (and) how we compare to other jurisdictions,” said Steele.

A similar survey is underway in Eastern Canada and one was recently completed in the United States. Steele said he will compare data from this survey with those results and present it to Agriculture Canada by the end of March.

Individual survey responses are private but the aggregate data will be shared with industry and grower associations starting in April, Steele said.

“We want to get a cross section of farmers. I don’t want just all the farmers that are into precision ag and the larger farmers to do the survey. We want the smaller farms as well to complete it because they represent a large number of farms in Western Canada.”

The survey began Jan. 9 and will close March 4.

To participate in the precision agriculture survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/precision-ag-western-canada

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