Technology Redefines Agriculture

What defines modern agriculture?

It’s a question that I’ve been pondering ever since reading an article Jan. 19 by Terence Loose listing “agriculture” as the most useless college major.  More than anything, I believe his article illustrates how little the general public knows about production agriculture.  I dare say Loose envisions farming more like it was in the 1950s or 1960s than it is today.

Agriculture has changed dramatically over the years, and it’s become even more technologically advanced in the past 5 to 10 years alone.  In fact, agriculture is like lot the car industry.  One used to have to custom order power windows.  Today power windows come standard on new vehicles just like most technology comes standard today on agricultural products.

Technological advancements in the seed industry is just one example.  One hundred percent of Latham® Hi-Tech Soybean seed is traited, and about 95% of the corn hybrids we sell contain technologies that make crops resistant to insects or certain chemicals.

High-tech seeds means there’s a lot of science in each bag!  Think about the highly educated and skilled people it takes to research and create new technologies and genetics, develop them for commercial production, condition the seeds, and then sell them to the farmers, who produce food, clothing and fuel for the world.

New seed technologies – have and will continue to – set new expectations for the yields farmers can achieve.  When Roundup® Ready soybeans were introduced in 1996, they set the standard for soybean yields for a decade.  Today Latham® soybeans with the Genuity® Roundup Ready® 2 Yield technology are redefining yield expectations.  Latham soybeans with the RR2 trait have been out-yielding the competition consistently for the past two harvest seasons.  Soon Vistive® Gold soybeans will produce an oil similar to the content of olive oil but much easier and cheaper to produce.

On the corn side of our business, technology is progressing at an equally fast pace.  Innovations are making it even simpler to comply with refuge requirements.  New for 2012 Latham has introduced Genuity VT2 PRO RIB Complete, as well as Genuity® SmartStax® RIB Complete.  Other new technologies coming include a new rootworm trait from Syngenta called Agrisure® Duracade™ and crops resistant to 2-4D chemistry from Dow Agrosciences called Enlist™ just to name a couple.

Seed traits are just one example of how technology has – and continues – to redefine production agriculture.  “Technology” obviously has many different meanings within agriculture, and the definition largely depends on what a person does from day-to-day.  A quick poll on Facebook and a few e-mails to our friends in the industry produced this list of ag technologies:

  • GPS
  • Auto-steer tractors
  • Smart Phones
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • RFID technology for livestock

And the list goes on!  How has technology transformed your own operation?