Like agriculture, technology is always advancing. Whether it is for security or to make life easier in the field, the importance of new implements on the farm is helping farmers across the Midwest.

While protecting the farm is not a new concept, Brian Price said investing in the right technology is something that can make sure a farmers’ assets are protected.

Price, who owns video surveillance company OnSight 24/7 in Mitchell, South Dakota, said whether it’s someone sneaking onto the farm or simply an animal walking through the land and causing a ruckus, it’s important to know everything going on when the lights go out. Many farmers have recognized the need for security technology on their farms.

“I’d say more and more, they have,” Price said. “I’d say 95% of what we do is ag-oriented security. We’ve been at it for eight years now and we’ve been pulled on the farm more and more.”

He said much of the protective work OnSight 24/7 has done is looking at fertilizer and fuel stored on the farm. Those can be expensive inputs for farmers, and Price said they are looking to make sure they don’t disappear.

“I want to make sure that not only are outsiders not stealing from me, but my employees aren’t stealing from me,” Price said “Throwing a camera on a fuel tank has been very, very helpful. The input costs that these farmers have in regards to fertilizer and chemicals and seed, they are all assets. Those are all at risk.”

Price noted that many security cameras have sensors that can act as alarms to contact local authorities or blare out a message if triggered, while some of their newer technologies can even capture license plates for cars passing by on country roads.

A challenge for installing some of these surveillance technologies has been the growth of farms across the Midwest, Price said. Growing the use of wireless internet technology has been important for them, as well as increased wind and solar energy. Price said the prevalence of increased wireless internet speeds is important for continuing the advancement of these technologies.

Price said while security is an important aspect of the technology they work with, sometimes they are simply installing product for farmers to surveil their own livestock or grain bins. As an example, calving barns have become a staple in their work, he said.

Digital security

While cameras and sensors can help protect physical assets, farmers need to be protected digitally as well.

In a time where so much work and information is stored on computers and the internet, AgAmerica Lending said the most important aspect to protecting yourself is to not give out any information unless you trust the source.

Phishing scams are common, and can often be detected by emails with unusual links or attachments. Their most common signs an email could be a scam include:

  • Senders email address — usually does not match the sender’s name and seems off.
  • Generic Greeting — ‘Hi Sir’ or ‘Hi Mam.’
  • Spelling Errors — odd grammatical errors and sentence structure.
  • Sense of Urgency — telling you to click immediately or limited supplies available.
  • Request of Personal Information — reputable companies will not ask for personal or financial information through email or text.

For any significant transaction or transfer of valuable data, they suggested to try and have either verbal or in-person meeting to ensure the information goes to the right place. They also noted that if any sort of breach happens, having a contingency plan already in place with the companies you are working with is important as well.

Autonomous technology

Security isn’t the only area seeing a focus on farms. Autonomous technology has been a hot topic in recent years at trade shows, and one company has been helping bring it to the Midwest.

This past spring, Sabanto was using this technology to plant fields as big as 200 acres in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, and hopes to add more aspects soon.

“In the spring, we were primarily focused on planting,” Sabanto CEO Craig Rupp said. “We built four autonomous systems, based on a Kubota 5616, and we put behind it a 5-row, 20-inch planter. We ran out and we did some rotary hoeing in Nebraska a couple of weeks ago. We are going to continue with other operations throughout the year.”

He said while they used the Kubotas this year, last year they ran the technology on a 18-row, 20-inch International Harvester planter, and there were some challenges. For now, he said they are going to focus on the smaller equipment but plan to explore more moving forward.

What Rupp hopes is to solve the problem of having little to no labor help on the farm. By using a company like Sabanto, farmers are able to focus on other aspects of their business while a representative controls and monitors the tractor in the field. He said they plan to be able to monitor the process remotely.

While this is still a new technology that will have its own challenges, this is something that could have longevity in the agriculture marketplace, Rupp said. By perfecting this process, getting to a point of zero local interventions during a job, it will emerge quickly.

“I firmly believe there will be a day where a lot of field operations — I won’t say all of them, but a lot of them — will be performed autonomously,” he said. “We want to bring that to a reality.”