How Technology Is Changing Farming

Posted: Oct 18 2019, 9:38am CDT | by , in Technology News

How Technology Is Changing Farming
Image: MIT

Technology is rapidly changing the way we farm, from the machines, to the seeds, to the actual food we eat. Here's how.

We've come a long way since the word farming meant spending the day toiling in the fields from sunup to sundown. Technology has changed nearly every walk of life and it's working on changing how we grow food and raise livestock. How is technology changing farming and what changes can we expect to see in the future?

Drones in the Field

Drones might look like toys or, at best, photography tools but they're starting to make a splash in nearly every industry including agriculture. With the right programming, a drone can monitor crop growth, detect weeds or pests, check water levels in the soil to automate irrigation and much more. They're even useful in the offseason for predicting the next year's crop yield or setting up a drainage plan for the next growing season.

Drones can make managing large farms easier for small crews, covering acres and collecting data in the time that it would take you to walk to the end of a field and back. While they aren't commonplace in the industry yet, drones could easily change the way we look at crop management.

Autonomous Tractors

We hear a lot on the news about self-driving cars, but what about self-driving tractors? Tractors are an integral part of agriculture, but currently, they require a crew to operate them. If you can't find a crew, it's nearly impossible to get the job done. Autonomous tractors may eliminate or at least alleviate some of the need for human crew members by teaching the tractors how to navigate the fields and finish jobs themselves. One such platform, Taranis, is working with John Deere to create an autonomous fleet that can inspect the fields as they move through them, looking or problems with the crops, pests, and feed that information back to the farmer and their crew.

In theory, these autonomous tractors will even be able to tell their owners when they need maintenance, instead of guessing or taking them offline when they don't need repairs.

Livestock and Crop Genetics

Genetically modified organisms or GMOs have a bad reputation, mostly due to popular media, but without genetics and technology, we wouldn't have the foods that we enjoy today. Modern technology allows geneticists to modify — either through breeding or in the lab — livestock that is healthier than ever before. When it comes to crops, farmers have been using breeding to create plants that thrive and give a higher yield for thousands of years. Today, they have the technology and processes like marker-assisted breeding to help them get the desired results without seasons of trial and error.

Looking Toward the Future

Technology is part of our daily lives, from the smartphone in our pockets to the computer we work on. It's also becoming part of the agriculture industry, changing it in ways that a decade ago we'd never have anticipated. Time will only tell what the future will bring but one thing is for sure — farmers may have a very different job in the next couple of decades.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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