In honor of Kansas Ag Week, I wanted to share a little about how we as farmers view technology on our farm. Last fall, the world population hit 7 billion people, and we are projected to hit 9 billion by 2050. As a farmer, we think often of how much more food is going to have to be produced to feed that many people. Couple the population growth with the growth of middle class in China (translation, those who want more protein in their diet), and it seems like a momentous challenge to produce enough food to feed all the people in the future.
My opinion is that technology will be continually improved at the farm level to meet these demands. I look, not just at our farm, but many of my counterparts, and I’m amazed at how technology impacts us. Do you use GPS when you’re traveling? I lovingly call mine, Garmin Gal. Although I really think there should be a way to adjust the meanness of the tone of her voice, like if she’s told you 10 times to make a u-turn, maybe she should be able to say something like, “why aren’t you listening to me!?!?” (maybe she should be even allowed to use swear words if you’re not listening). But I digress… On our farm, we use GPS when planting and harvesting our crops. But our farm GPS allows for accuracy within 2 inches. Read that again, 2 inches, not 50 feet like Garmin Gal. The importance of that level of accuracy is that we know where each seed is planted, and that information is carried forward throughout the growing season.
Another example of technology is for our irrigation pivots (AKA sprinkler systems). A couple of our pivots are set up with an app for our iPhone where we can turn off the irrigation without physically going to the field. Last summer when we went to Washington and Oregon on vacation, my husband was able to see exactly where our pivot was at in the field and turn it off when it got to where we wanted it to end at. Pretty cool. I look for more apps to become available in the future. I think the demand is there. As my oldest is trying to decide what he wants to do in college, I keep trying to tell him to think about learning how to create apps – his dad will fill his head with possibilities!