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Precision Agriculture Analysis

Precision agriculture is one the main active areas in the crop protection and seed market, with applications at all stages of the farming cycle from general farm management through to the specific aspects of precision farming which relate to operations for seed, agrochemicals, fertilizers, livestock, field monitoring and harvesting. The benefits of precision agriculture are mostly incremental but are aimed at helping growers to get closer to a theoretical “productivity ceiling”. Following 25 years of commercial success by genetically modified (GM) crops, considerable industry investment is now being made in new areas of gene editing. CRISPR has huge potential to make precise changes in the genome, flexibility of target selection, and affordability and this has enabled it to be adopted, in both research and commercial areas, at a speed rarely seen before.

Key facts about the crop science technology market

  • Our research indicates the market share in hardware is dominated by seed planting (32.8%), chemical & nutrient application (19.8%), harvesting (10%), guidance systems (8%) and variable rate applications (6.2%)
  • Our research indicates the market in software technology is largely taken by farm management systems (27.2%), data analysis & advice (21.7%) and remote sensing & mapping (16.6%)
  • Precision agriculture continues to grow market in the US with guidance & autosteer the leading segment followed by GIS field mapping and soil sampling.
  • $1,313 million was invested in 137 digital farming deals in 2018 by crop protection and seed companies, fertilizer and machinery companies, IT giants, venture capital and start-up businesses. Bayer is targeting 300-400 million paid acres by 2025, equating to 10% of global crop area.
  • Pairwise Plants, established in 2017 to develop and commercialise their base (gene) editing technology has set up an exclusive research collaboration with Bayer in major row crops like corn, soybean, cotton, wheat, and canola plus fresh fruits and vegetables popular with consumers. So far, they have raised $125 million, including $100 million from Bayer CropSciences.
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Key themes affecting the crop science technology market

Digital agriculture has been around since the 1990’s but has grown steadily in recent years with advances in several technology areas. It is a complex suite of technologies relevant to all sectors of agriculture and all stages in the value chain. Market penetration is rapidly increasing in developed and emerging economies, but most major digital agriculture platforms are poorly differentiated from one another. The benefits to large farm businesses are mainly around cost reduction and incremental productivity improvements while for the smaller farmers the gains are associated with improved productivity and market access, and can be radical. All major crop protection and seed sector players are involved: large and small companies plus venture capitalists, machinery companies and specialist equipment makers.

There is considerable debate on where the overall benefits will be greatest, an example being the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), such as drones; the impact of UAV application of pesticides in major row crops is unlikely to be significant and may remain a relatively niche method whereas UAVs could be more relevant for application to tree crops and specialty crops like hops plus remote sensing and field scouting uses.

For the crop protection and seed sector, knock-on effect on product volumes is unlikely to be significant as many new actives are already being positioned at low use rates, and this is a more significant driver for this effect.

Our analysis recognises that while there’s a sentiment in the industry that it is important to be involved, there is also a key question to be assessed around the likely returns - will precision agriculture return on investment be sufficient or is it at best a zero sum game?

Paid acres, million
Bayer (Monsanto)1435 (US)6090
Dow (DuPont Encirca)2 12 


At IHS Markit we offer market-leading agricultural technology information solutions via our globally recognised Crop Science Market Reporting and Market Analysis and Data services. Our specialist team of over 25 crop protection and seed experts offer comprehensive news, data and independent analysis across the global industry, with current news, data and market forecasting solutions to support all operational needs in your organisation.

Crop Protection News

Our Crop science Market Reporting service is the market leader in updates and news on the crop protection market, covering information from mergers and acquisitions to new products, and from regulatory changes to technological developments. Covering pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, biological pest control and genetically modified crops, a crop Science Market Reporting subscription also includes access to a range of tracking tools on M&A, active ingredient approvals, patents, and research and development pipeline.

Analysis & Forecasting
Seed and Genetically Modified Crop Analysis

Our Seed Market Analysis service provides a year 10-year view of the seed industry, with five years of historical data and analysis and market expectations for the next five years. Covers seed companies, countries, products and crop markets, including commercialised GM and non-GM seed products and those in research and development.

Special Reports
Special Reports

Published throughout the year these reports dive deeper than information available on our Crop Science Marketing Reporting or Market Analysis and Data services alone, taking special reports on key topics driving the crop protection and seeds markets compliments subscription services. These provide critical updates on regulations, products, technology and other emerging trends.

Explore the special reports
Bespoke Solutions

Consulting services spanning all your needs in the crop science markets, from long-term forecasting to market studies for financial investments reviewing everything from market sizing to competitor intelligence.

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