A recent USDA report hinted at the disconnect between the ability to gather precision ag data and putting it to use. The report, “On the Doorstep of the Information Age,” pointed out that yield monitors were used on 40 to 45% of corn and soybean acres in 2005-06. However, GPS maps were used on only about a quarter of corn acres and a sixth of soybean acres across the Corn Belt. And variable-rate technologies were used on only about 16% of corn and 12% of soybean acres.

Steve Cubbage, a precision ag consultant, says it’s little wonder that use of precision ag data has lagged behind the use of yield monitors and GPS navigation systems. “This idea that you could go out and harvest corn and everything would be on your monitor and magic would happen when you brought it into the PC just wasn’t true,” he says. “It turned out to be a lot harder than that.”