Modern producers have to be farmers, biologists, agronomists, bankers, accountants, market hedgers, economists, policy analysts, and often technologists to be successful. As farms grow larger and risk and volatility increase, technology is enabling us build an interconnected system of equipment, software, data, and virtual consultative teams around our operations. When it comes to humans and technology, it is interesting that technology can be simultaneously an attractive and repulsive force. Telecommunications and social media enable people to stay connected with a larger and increasingly decentralized network of personal and professional contacts. But at the same time, it sure seems like people are growing disconnected, spending more time alone with their phones than with their friends. We may stand interconnected, but agriculture is fraught with intramural battles which position food vs. fuel, crop vs. livestock, and farmer vs. consumer, and it is when we divide and disconnect, that we fall. IDEAg Interconnectivity is a forward leaning look at how our interconnectivity is an enabling, uniting force in the field, on the farm, and for the future.
So what is “Interconnectivity?” Suffice it to say that it is an ancient social concept, with a modern technological twist that makes it a bit slippery to define. The verb, interconnect, means to “connect or become mutually connected,” something we have been doing just to survive for thousands of years. But interconnectivity is a noun. It’s a person, place, or thing, right? Most often we refer to interconnectivity within the context of telecommunications, internet networks, and electronics but it can be much broader than that and it may be why some find it difficult to describe. An objective of the IDEAg Interconnectivity community is to facilitate a conversation about interconnectivity in food and agriculture, the current opportunities and challenges surfacing in an increasingly interconnected industry, and a peek into what future of interconnected agriculture may bring.
Leading up to the IDEAg Interconnectivity meetings in March of 2012, we’ll explore a number of topics, focusing on a wide range of interconnectivity topics. For example, the interconnectivity of GPS and farm equipment has enabled tremendous efficiency gains, loss avoidance, and reduced physical wear and tear on human operators. But what will new GPS and telecommunication innovations bring when tractors “talk” to grain carts, maps “share” themselves with advisors, and everything drives itself around? How will the interconnectivity of social and professional networks enable farmers and ranchers to build virtual but trusted, professional consultative teams around them for rapid decision making while preserving control, choice, agility, and most importantly, privacy? We will consider the implications of consumer to consumer interconnectivity that will shape consumer demands and expectations for years to come. We will look at the interconnectivity and impacts of the global economy, the world may be flattening, but it is also growing rapidly.
IDEAag Interconnectivity is about a dialog, so let’s interconnect. How are you interconnecting in agriculture in your shop, on your farm, or in your business? How has interconnectivity opened opportunities, developed challenges, or brought a return on your investments in technology and innovation?