ASTA's CSS & Seed Expo 2019 is being held through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, IL. (Chris Lusvardi photo)

Chicago, IL (December 9, 2019) – The American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) CSS & Seed Expo 2019 started Monday in Chicago, IL with a day full of meetings and presentations.

The presentations included a session about “Field Applications in Digital Agriculture.”

Moderator Jim Schweigert, president of Gro Alliance, says the goal of the session was to share perspectives about the use of digital agriculture applications that are relevant to the seed producer’s decision making. Schweigert says technology is increasingly being used in agriculture as connectivity has improved.

Technology enables solutions for increasingly complex issues, he adds.

Panelist Richard Marsh, Farmers Edge global digital agriculture lead, says obtaining verified data is valuable.

“Machine learning is just about impossible if we don’t have good data,” Marsh says. “Digital is not a trend for tomorrow. It is here today, and it is here to stay.”

Connectivity is something that Marsh points out can be taken for granted as outside of the Midwest, connectivity in rural areas is not as developed.

“We really need that to connect our fields,” Marsh says.

Robotics can be used in the field to collect data and improve breeding efforts, according to panelist Chinmay Soman, co-founder and CEO of EarthSense, Inc.

“We need to accelerate breeding to feed the world,” Soman says. “Breeding needs to pinpoint all top performing plants and their genes.”

Soman says robots can be used in fields without damaging crops. A lot of progress has been made in the last couple of years to develop sophisticated analytics, says Soman, who has been involved in the development of the TerraSentia robot.

A massive amount of raw data can be collected, but Soman says attention is turning to converting the data into useful plant trait information. Data isn’t useful unless it’s put in tune with teaching a computer what to make of it, he explains.

Soman adds robots on the ground are being used to supplement data that is obtained from drones in the air.

The potential uses for drones is somewhat limitless, says Jim Love, Beck’s Hybrids light robotics manager.

When deciding on what technology to use, Love notes it’s important to partner with someone who has your best interest at heart. The goal is to help customers make the right decisions, he says.

Love explains sharing data with farmers in less than 24 hours is necessary in order for it to be useful.

In addition to the technology panel, other sessions Monday included the Seed Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT) workshop and Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance educational session.

CSS & Seed Expo 2019 continues Tuesday with general sessions in the morning providing the 2019 Agricultural Economy Report and The Farmer of the Future along with Thriving Amongst the Giants panel discussion. The panel is scheduled to include speakers from Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Stine Seed, Wyffels Hybrids, and Beck’s Hybrids.

The Seed Expo opens at noon, with the Ag Tech Innovations Showcase from 1-2:30 p.m.

See ASTA’s webpage for more information and full schedule details.

Written by Chris Lusvardi, Seed Today editor

A Hylio quadcopter was on display during the Field Applications in Digital Agriculture session Monday. (Chris Lusvardi photos)

Following the session, Jim Love demonstrates how a drone can be used to provide information to seed producers.

Some of the drones on display during the Field Applications in Digital Agriculture session.