Press Release

Ag Tech Execs Talk Smart Farming at the 2017 Insights Summit

December 28, 2017

For Immediate Release


BLOOMINGTON, ILL. – December 28, 2017 – As part of its industry leadership, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program hosted four agriculture technology executives to discuss smart farming and the impacts on the soybean industry during the association’s annual Insights Summit earlier this month. The Summit explored the challenges and opportunities facing farmers, such as precision agriculture, artificial intelligence and machine learning advances. Industry leaders and farmers proposed ideas on how they could work together to leverage technologies for a stronger soybean industry. 


“We’re in a mathematical era of agriculture as producers shift their focus towards numbers-driven decisions,” said Joel Wipperfurth, ag technology applications lead at WinField United. “There is no prize for the highest yield. It’s all about input per bushel. The winning growers will be defined by how well they use technology.”


Precision agriculture can help growers do more with less, but it relies on having a lot of accurate data and the tools to apply it, said Jeff Keiser, vice president of strategic sales and marketing at Iteris, Inc. New data processing methods will help enhance the quality and quantity of available data to improve precision agriculture. Mark Beckmann, director, industry solutions with Microsoft, explained how homomorphic computing processes data while it’s still encrypted, meaning that farmers can contribute to a greater data set anonymously.


In addition to improving efficiencies, technology can help solve some of the pressing problems facing rural communities, the panelists said. Beckmann spoke to Microsoft’s work with TV White Space, an effort to improve rural broadband access by leveraging unoccupied TV channels to create premium internet service at a lower cost for end users.


Kevin Born, chief executive officer at Environmental Tillage Systems, stated that, “We need to be logical and pragmatic about how we approach solutions for all, not just a few.” He went on to explain that tillage practices will play a vital role in ensuring longevity for future generations.


“The goal of the Insights Summits is to foster discussion around important topics, so we are better prepared to help the state’s soybean farmers be successful,” said Lynn Rohrscheib, chairwoman of the ISA board. “Collaboration between our industry partners and farmers on topics like smart farming is useful in helping us navigate the future of our industry.”


The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website




Amy Roady



Kelsie McEndaffer