Technology in Agriculture – How beneficial is it?

It seems as if every corner of the world and everything we do is affected by technology, even agriculture.  From soil testing, fertilizer application, field mapping, cattle records,  even semi-loading, there seems to be technology everywhere we look and if you’re not using technology in agriculture practices where you are, you could be missing out.

I think many farmers, including my husband, who is an organic farmer in South Dakota, resisted technology, at least technology that wasn’t part of a tractor or other vehicle needed to make it drive and work.  Last year he started getting the urge after hearing some “farm talk” and success stories.  He finally took the plunge, visited a at who’d been featured in Successful Farming magazine a couple different times and seemed to know what he was talking about and made a purchase.  He will use the equipment for the first time planting in the spring of 2012.  

His new found interest piqued my curiosity too, since I have an obvious interest in technology as a social media marketing specialist.  FINALLY, we might have something in common… sort of, anyway.  My interest led me to being asked to give a presentation on social media marketing at the winter conference for in January.  I was asked to give a second presentation and after some discussion, we decided technology in agriculture would be a good topic.   While I could talk about a few things, I asked the owner of Precision Ag Solutions, Greg Tople if he or Troy McKown, a well versed consultant for Greg’s business, if one of them would like to join me and share their knowledge and expertise on technology in ag, thankfully they agreed.  After all, if they could convince my husband it was worthwhile and get him to part with some money, it MUST be good.  They focused on GPS, field mapping and products like , a system that is particularly interesting to organic farmers because it allows growers to use GPS to apply the right amount of nitrogen at the right place and right time, increasing yield and reducing nitrogen input expense.  Because organic farmers can’t use synthetic fertilizers, every bit of boost they can get to increase their yield naturally and efficiently is greatly appreciated. 

For my part, in addition to talking about mobile apps and the usefulness cell phones provide for farmers beyond the obvious increase in communication, I talked about and their system which allows for automated loading of grain into semi-trailers for hauling.  The product was developed by Neil Mylet because he was a farmer from central Indiana who had severe allergies. He uses the Loadout system which has hardware and software working together to load his grain with much more limited exposre to grain dust,  The loading is controlled by your smart phone with a specific mobile application to start, stop and visually monitor the progress of grain loading right from the cab of the semi-truck.  This interested me on many levels, but mostly because my oldest son is going to school for architecture in part because it really interests him, but also because he has severe allergies and he’d love to come back and farm, but if that doesn’t work for his health and allergies, he’ll need something to fall back on. 

I could talk about the great things in technology in agriculture all day, but maybe I’ll just save it for another blog and/or another presentation as some conference.   What do you think of the changes in technology in agriculture and do you love the changes or hate them?