Technology Changes the Face of Farming

By South Dakota Corn Growers

Farming today would be nearly unrecognizable to growers who worked the same fields 100 years ago.

The improvement from working fields with horsepower to steam power and finally to gas power was tremendous. But recent technological leaps are arguably just as significant.

Today, farmers use new technologies to improve soil health, increase yields, reduce chemical usage, boost sustainability and assist with various farming practices, such as reduced tillage. Let’s take a look at a few.

• Global Positioning Systems (GPS) & Precision Agriculture

Based on the same technology used in mapping and weather apps, GPS has revolutionized farming. Being able to view and map farmland gives growers spatial information that lays the groundwork for a multitude of applications. GPS has also led to applications such as automatic steering in planters, which saves a great deal of time during busy seasons.

• Mapping Software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Farmers obtain data through GPS technology, sensors and mapping information, feed it into their own software systems and create custom management plans. These systems make it easier for farmers to monitor inputs for improved soil health and sustainability.

• Variable Rate Technology (VRT)

Digital systems allow farmers to use variable seeding and input applications in specific locations within fields. For example, a low-lying area might produce better with a particular hybrid while another area, just a few feet away, demands a different hybrid for optimum production.

• Electronic Sensors

Placed in fields, sensors can monitor for various conditions and send information on the cloud or a server. Data is analyzed automatically and even trigger actions such as irrigation.

• Drones

Farmers can send drones throughout their fields to check on crops and livestock, saving time, increasing efficiencies and allowing for faster responses to potential problems.

Additional advanced technologies are used by farmers for a variety of purposes. Scientists and engineers continue inventing and commercializing products that help make farming more sustainable and productive.

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