Tools and Technology for Practitioners: Five Big Ag Trends


  • John Shutske
  • University of Wisconsin Madison, Biological Systems Engineering
Project Media

It’s a time of exponential change in our society and in the industries that heat and light our homes, transport us, entertain us, and feed our families. This is also true in agriculture and closely allied industries! What does exponential change and growth really mean? First, linear growth means adding a fixed amount of “something” every time period. Like a year. If I invest $10,000 in the stock market and it grows only by a fixed, linear rate of $1,000 a year, after 25 years, I will have $34,000. Not bad. But, if I invest that same $10,000 and grow the balance by 10% per year, compounding last year’s gain on top of this year’s, I will have $98,497 after 25 years. Compound interest is an example of exponential growth that we’re all familiar with.

Technology and SPECIFICALLY, computing power, has been growing in this exponential way since the 1950s. But, computing power doesn’t grow by single digits as is the case with investing money in a savings account. “Moore’s Law,” named after an early computer pioneer, tells us that computing power doubles approximately every 12 to 18 months. That means the annual growth rate is close to 100%! We will talk about what this means for all of us in the conference session.