The farmer’s life isn’t an easy one. Long before the sun pierces the fields that line the horizon, a farmer is up preparing to take full advantage of every hour of sunlight awarded to them. The preparation and execution of each day is vital, not only for their lively hood but to so many others that rely on them. With the world’s population set to increase by 34 percent by 2050 and the world’s rural population set to decrease by 30 percent, farmers might ask themselves “How will we feed all these people?” (FAO, 2009). With high demand comes opportunity, making the Ag Industry one of the leading segments in the leasing and financing industry.

Over the past few decades, advancements in technology have paved the way for the Ag industry to meet these exponential demands. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until 1954 that tractors outnumbered horses and mules (Spielmaker, 2014). Biotechnology has given way to more sustainable crops, and advanced onboard computers have allowed farmers to harvest remotely long after the sun sets behind the fields. With new technologies, comes new challenges and from there innovative solutions are born.

With these new technologies, many farmers face an inability to work on their machinery, making the idea of owning such an advanced and expensive piece equipment seem daunting. Trading in screwdrivers for computer knowledge isn’t something that the average farmer can do. So how does a farmer combat this gap and prevent downtime? Well, in the past they would rely on a service tech, but unfortunately, they may not be trained to understand the tractor’s engine control unit or TECU sufficiently, and as any farmer knows, you can’t afford to waste a single day with downtime.  As a result, major companies in the heavy equipment industry have tapped into a technological advancement that can drastically shorten downtime for farmers. Augmented Reality, commonly referred to as AR, is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view. Augmented reality isn’t necessarily a “new thing.”  The example of AR most people may be familiar with is the yellow lines that are superimposed on a football field to indicate the goal-line or first down markers.  It’s also exploding in the social media scene as Snapchat filters. These may be the most known examples of augmented reality, but its uses go far beyond the entertainment industry.

Major equipment companies, like Caterpillar, have been working diligently with augmented reality technology to lessen possible downtime that can come with the advanced machinery. Recently, they partnered with Scope AR to provide augmented reality-based video and voice support services, called CAT LIVESHARE, to help maintain the equipment in their dealer network. This advanced service is like no other seen in the Ag Equipment Industry (John, 2017). Through layering augmented reality over a live video call and screen sharing, service workers can repair or troubleshoot mechanical issue efficiently. Not only can AR lesson downtime, but it can provide service in harsh conditions to large fleets.

While the future of the agriculture industry may seem as volatile as the weather conditions it faces, AR is a promising development. A company that leases equipment with this technology has a better chance of their equipment being maintained correctly which will ultimately lead to better performance, decreased downtime, and an increase in the resell value of the equipment. Augmented Reality is a technology that has the potential to provide a win-win situation for everyone that is involved. Farmers can rest assured long after the sun goes down that their investment is going to serve them for the entire life span of the lease, and the lessor has the added security that their customers and their equipment are going to be well maintained.

Sources

D. S. (2014). Historical Timeline — Farm Machinery & Technology. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from https://www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/farm_tech.htm

2017 Industry Future Council / Staying Ahead of Tomorrow (Rep.). (2017, February). Retrieved April 4, 2017, from Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation website: http://www.store.leasefoundation.org/cgi-bin/msascartdll.dll/ProductInfo?productcd=IFC2017

F. (2009, October 13). How to Feed the World in 2050. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from http://www.fao.org/wsfs/forum2050/wsfs-forum/en/

J. (2017, March 08). Scope AR and Caterpillar Launch CAT LIVESHARE for real-time remote support, training and equipment maintenance using augmented reality. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://im-mining.com/2017/03/10/scope-ar-caterpillar-launch-cat-liveshare-real-time-remote-support-training-equipment-maintenance-using-augmented-reality/

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