Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crop texts farmer: Snd wtr pls

For years, some people have talked to their houseplants in the belief that it will help them grow healthier and happier. But now, a company in Colorado is intent on helping entire fields of plants talk back.

Agrihouse of Berthoud, CO, is preparing to market a sensor-based technology to farmers that allows plants to send a text message to a mobile device with a request for water...or a message that 'we're fine, thank you'. Unlike other remote sensing applications in production agriculture that measure soil moisture, the Agrihouse solution actually purports to measure the internal moisture content of the plant by placing low cost sensors on plant leaves to measure turgidity.

Image from Agrihouse. More information, including video, here.

According to Agrihouse, this unprecendented level of precision takes out much of the guesswork in irrigation decisions and could save a typical 130-acre center-pivot implementation "enough water to supply 40 households for a year" in addition to significant savings in pumping costs (i.e., energy).

So What?

Interesting you say...if you are a farmer. But what does that mean to marketers? Three things:

1. Always-on, mobile technology (see here and here for a couple of related priors) is an opportunity in every industry. Marketers who look to remove cost, time and place as obstacles to the customer's experience can find the tools in ever-less-expensive technology. Any marketing effort that doesn't look to lower costs, reduce time, or enable efficiency in an implementation of technology is missing opportunity.
2. Sustainability is an opportunity in every industry. Marketers who consider ways to help their customers do more--with less--for longer--will find an increasingly receptive audience in the post-disposable world view. Technology can provide the means when the end goal is to be there for the duration.

3. People are strange...when you are the stranger. No matter what the person's occupation, stereotypes get in the way of good marketing. Good marketers, on the other hand, try to put themselves in the shoes of others (one of our five themes!)...recognizing that it is not the same as being someone else. Just as farming might be a surprisingly high-tech business (prior) to those outside of it, we all have surprisingly rich and varied qualities that technology can serve. Smart marketers look to engage us where we are different...not rely on least common denominator stereotypes.

Speaking of strange, here's a look through one of musical history's stranger Doors:


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