You have to chuckle when you visualize the thought of a farmer from 40 years ago looking into the future and seeing the technologies available in the industry.
They were on display at Farm World’s day of seminars last week, with much of the interest concentrated on drones and their agricultural uses.
They remain much better known for their controversial military uses in which you can strap a missile to them and blow up the bad guys deep inside enemy territory without jeopardizing the lives of your soldiers. The agricultural use allows them to glide over fields with special software pinpointing problems that exist in the field.
Farm World CEO Tex Prete noted that scouting the crop is just an early step for drones. One day, there could be much, much more.
“It’s not that far or not that inconceivable to think that someday in the future ... a lot of the crop spraying might be done with a drone rather than spraying with a ground unit at certain times of the year,” Prete said. “The technology’s there, the capability of doing it, so it’s just a matter of what’s the next step.”
In 1974, that would have popped the ballcap off a small family farmer still driving his 1954 Case IH tractor.
The advancements in seeds, herbicides and pesticides are one thing. But the old days of combining the field without even a shield from the sun have been replaced by expensive units with auto-steer, satellite radio and air conditioning.
Farmers have always been amazing innovators so it’s little wonder that machinery suppliers have done such a wonderful job of moving the industry ahead.
Each advancement will no doubt be another step in the increasing move to larger operations with more technologically savvy farmers at the helm. It’s happened everywhere else in the business world so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it’s trickled down to the farm.
Much has happened in recent years to move the smaller operators off the land, making the move to bigger farms necessary. In many cases, the younger, forward-thinking generations -- the very people the industry now needs -- left the farm for technology jobs in the cities.
Not that many years ago farmers began using the Internet as a new tool to help monitor prices and stay in touch with the latest innovations. Now it’s hard to imagine that many bigger operations could go without it.
The small family farm is mostly gone but that was going to happen eventually anyway. It always has, in virtually every society in history.
The new technology will allow fewer people to grow additional food for more of us, a miracle if there ever was one.
Much has changed.
The 1974 farmer’s ballcap wouldn’t have to fall off if he saw the drone or a giant combine working its way down the field; you’d likely find him lying flat on his back in wonderment staring up at the sky.
Prince Albert Daily Herald