Technology Continues to Transform Agriculture
I attend a lot of meetings. Some keep me informed about new regulations. Some keep me informed about the weather. Others try to help me figure out how to market what I raise. This past week, however, the Farm Bureau Economic Summit covered it all!
The first slide shown during the opening session was of a toilet plunger. Talk about a wakeup call! Market prices for my crops are in the toilet, yet there was much optimism during this conference.
Speakers covered exciting new uses for technology. For example, unmanned flights commonly called drones has great potential on my farm. One use that came to my mind is conservation. A drone could look over my farm ground for damage after huge rain events like those we received this past spring. By literally showing me how the water moves across my ground, I could see where tile is needed and how to construct better water ways. Based on the data I receive from drones, I could select different crops or event select different crop varieties as different genetics handle different types of weather.
Different soil types and different types of stress… The potential of these little machines is just starting to emerge. My fear, of course, is government regulations. Will the potential for good be stopped before we really get it off the ground?
Another interesting technology presentation covered apps. Now we all know about apps for social media, but I now have the means to observe my livestock from my smartphone as I sit in a meeting! I can adjust how my barns operate sitting at my desk. I can check my grain bins while I’m sitting in my tractor. If you can dream it, there’s an app for it!
Conservation and sustainability are topic concerns that can be addressed by today’s apps. Irrigation systems can be monitored from a phone. Farmers can remotely tell how much water a crop needs, and give them just the right amount!
Now you can see why my farm really isn’t Old McDonald’s Farm. Old McDonald was not an efficient farmer, and there is a need for efficiency in agriculture today. I look for ways to grow more with fewer inputs, including water and fuel. I also look for ways to improve my farm, so I can leave it better than it was when I started farming. I’m striving to be better, and the things I learn from meetings like the Farm Bureau Economic Summit help me do just that!