Top 5 Takeaways from MAGIE 2023

Last week’s Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) drew 2,300 visitors to the McLean County Fairgrounds in Bloomington, IL. CropLife IRON’s staff was on hand and here are the top five takeaways from the event.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

The first thing to note about this year’s MAGIE show was the weather. As Salford Group’s Dave Webster observed during the introduction to his CropLife IRON video: “It is damn hot here this year!”


For those in attendance, the weather conditions could not be ignored. Because they take place in mid-August, MAGIE shows tend to be on the warm side by nature. Indeed, during the 2021 MAGIE, heat indexes were hitting the 100-degree mark throughout the late afternoon. But in 2023, warm took on whole new dimensions!

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A persistent heat dome across much of the central U.S. kept Bloomington and the surrounding areas toasty beyond belief. With humidity levels in the upper 90% range, the heat index for the days MAGIE 2023 was held easily topped 100 degrees. In fact, the highest heat index on the weather app attendees were using happened at 3:53 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23 – 117 degrees!

Game of Drones

Getting back to what products were on display at MAGIE this year, there was one category that was generating plenty of interest and attendee buzz – drones. A few other shows held earlier in the summer – such as the 2023 Tech Hub LIVE and 2023 Agribusiness Global Trade Summit – also featured plenty of focus on drones. And MAGIE continued this trend. On the show grounds, visitors were able to see for themselves examples of new drones from manufacturers such as Rantizo and Pegasus Robotics. These companies also had dedicated “fly zones” on the fairgrounds where visitors could see how these units performed while making their way through in-the-field conditions.

Drones have been in the marketplace for almost a decade now. Why the sudden jump in interest? According to market watchers, there are two reasons. For one thing, the Federal Aviation Administration recently updated its drone flying rules. These new regulations have allowed drone operators to cut the time required to obtain the necessary drone flying certifications in half, say sources.

Among ag retailers, the recent interest in drones has to do with application flexibility. “Sometimes, we have a limited number of ground rigs, so there’s an opportunity for us to instead take a drone into that field,” said Ryan Meister, Vice President of Digital Transformation at Frontier Cooperative, speaking at Tech Hub LIVE.

AI Activity

Besides drones, 2023 MAGIE attendees were likely to find plenty of examples of improved ag technology on display at the show. Making a return engagement from its debut during the 2022 MAGIE show, the See & Spray Ultimate system from John Deere, which employs artificial intelligence (AI), drew lots of attention at this year’s show as well. (In fact, this system was the recipient of the CropLife IRON Product of the Year award for 2022.)

But other examples of AI-based systems were also generating show buzz. This included the Carbon Bee/SmartStriker system exhibited at the Capstan Ag Systems booth. According to the company, each Carbon Bee/SmartStriker sensor can detect weeds, crop stress, and diseases, which are then geo-referenced. This information is then sent to the SmartStriker console in the cab, allowing the unit to spot apply products where needed in the field.

Another AI-oriented system at MAGIE was displayed by both Bosch BASF and Fendt AGCO – the One Smart Spray System. This camera-based system developed by Bosch detects weeds in milliseconds and precisely sprays only where necessary and only as much as needed. Using the field-specific data in a digital platform by xarvio Digital Farming Solutions, One Smart Spray also offers customized agronomic recommendations, intelligent sensitivity levels, high-precision agronomic maps, and automated documentation.

A ShowStopping Pair

Speaking of the One Smart Spray System, this product generated enough positive feedback and buzz at MAGIE that it was ultimately awarded the coveted ShowStopper Award by attendees. Since this product was a joint venture between Bosch BASF and Fendt AGCO, it was shared by both exhibitors – a first in the history of the ShowStopper Award.

“We are really excited to have won this award for 2023 with our partners Bosch BASF,” said Dave Fickel, Senior Marketing Manager, Application Equipment at Fendt AGCO, accepting the stop-sign shaped trophy. “This is an honor.”

In truth, the partnership between Bosch BASF and Fendt AGCO goes back several years. In May 2021, AGCO and Bosch BASF Smart Farming started the first trials of Bosch BASF Smart Farming’s Smart Spraying Solution. Both partners have been working towards perfecting the system for field use on sprayers since that time.

In the Year 2025

Although there were plenty of examples of new products for the 2024 growing season – including a 12-ton capacity spreader from Dalton Ag Products and an Emergency Repair Kit from Agri-Cover – many exhibitors at MAGIE this year touted new product offerings that are in the works for the 2025 season.

For example, the aforementioned One Smart Spray System will be offered on select Fendt AGCO models starting in 2024. However, according to Fickel, it will be the 2025 calendar year before the system is available on a more widespread basis for potential customers.

Another company eyeing 2025 is Horsch LLC. The company debuted its LEEB VL self-propelled sprayer at the 2022 MAGIE show (which ended up as the ShowStopper Award winner!) and this unit was once again present at this year’s event. But according to Ryan Dixon, Sales Territory Manager, Horsch is working on an upgraded cab design for the LEEB VL right now. “And this should be incorporated into the product’s design come 2025,” said Dixon.