Predictions about the coming year are frequent each January, but, perhaps even more for 2021 than normal. I can understand why. 2020 was a year no one has experienced in the modern world. Everyone wants to see a massive recovery in 2021. The collective world needs hope more than anything right now, and many predictions are delivering just that. I see 2021 being a year of recovery for sure, but most of all, I see 2021 being a catch-your-breath year and a year of figuring out how to navigate the “new normal” in general and definitely for agriculture.
Accelerated Focus on Regenerative Agriculture
The consumer focus on a high– quality, safe, and nutritious food supply continues, and an acute consumer interest in sustainability and regenerative agriculture has only accelerated with the pandemic. Agriculture is catching its breath as we grab hold of this trend and up the ante on sustainable and regenerative technologies. However, the fundamental baseline for traditional agriculture will still be a staple despite additional focus on regenerative farming practices. Farmers will continue their conservationist approach to their farms and the soil they work. They value the natural resources. They also will continue to evaluate new technologies every season to ensure their business is sustainable for future generations.
Prices are looking solid, but there’s still some volatility in the market and continued hesitation to expand in the current climate. In some cases, agricultural businesses have their No. 1 goal to get back in the black. However, many companies found a way to navigate 2020 and effectively focus on customer needs and success. I believe the primary focus of most ag businesses will be on fully adapting to this new normal before focusing on expansion, but beyond 2021 expansion will happen rapidly.
More New Innovations
New innovations are coming. We continue to see more new technologies every day. The challenge is always getting from that novel idea to farmer demand, especially with biologicals. According to a Farm Journal Media study, 41 percent of growers need more information about biologicals before they’ll use them.
It’s not that they don’t see value in the concepts, 35 percent see potential, but they need proof of results on their farms and under their agronomic practices.
Additional Grower Education
Growers need to see evidence and education on new products to make a change. AgriThority® helps clients put together that proven product performance story to increase grower adoption of the new technologies.
New technologies as a whole are still at the beginning of the adoption curve. There’s an uphill climb still to go. Agriculture is measured in the short term, which is why this adoption hurdle is so great. With the influx of more new technologies, it will be ever more important for brands to understand their product and how to promote it on the farm. Accurate product positioning is essential.
Technologies will continue to evolve in 2021. N-fixing bacteria will be one of many technologies focused on in the broader categories of biologicals and soil health. We’ll also start to see more technology crossover from other sectors of agriculture. For example, we’ll see some vegetable crop and grove technology finding applications in row crops. As with any technology, prices will continue to come down, which will help increase farmers’ interest and bottom line.
Changes in governmental administrations always creates some hesitancy. I expect we’ll continue to hear a lot about renewable fuels and carbon credits in the coming year. However, the level of uncertainty will keep companies cautious and focused on shoring up their business. Once the new administration is more settled, the investment community will continue to come off the sidelines. Many articles like this one builds the expectation about more investment in new agricultural technologies. Additionally, this increases the spotlight on soil health. The pressure has been building for big steps this year. We need to develop more consistency across the industry. Truly, Soil is the Source™ of success on the farm.
In many ways, 2021 will be a year where agricultural businesses are catching their breath from the shutdowns and staying home in 2020 while planning a route to the future. To borrow a book title by Marshall Goldsmith, I believe “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. This fits agriculture right now. We’ve been really successful as an industry to get where we are over the past 80 years, but where we’re going will require more innovation, more out-of-the-box thinking and more proof of results. Collectively, we have solved a great many issues facing producers today.
I believe the big, easy wins in agriculture are largely behind us. Now, we must complete the puzzle to understand yield optimization, soil health, and environmental interactions.
That’s exactly the role AgriThority has played with companies for the past 13 years. We know what practices got agriculture production to where we are won’t meet the demands of the future. AgriThority is uniquely positioned to provide guidance and make sure technologies are positioned to be successful at the farmgate. As with any single piece, it can be hard to see more than 50 percent of a puzzle, and it can be even harder to assemble them.
Because of the depth of our work, we can help paint that full picture or what the potential can look like. Reach out to AgriThority for scientific business, market and product development expertise that can make the difference between a great idea and a breakthrough for 2021 and beyond.