Technology continues to reinvent every part of our lives. Even parts of our lives that we don’t think about everyday. Farming is one of these. As a field of study (pun intended) and as a practice agriculture has gone through and continues to go through some major changes. In a recent article on Read Write Web Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote about the new driverless tractors of the future. Growing up on a farm all I can think about is: Where was this when I was a kid?
What fascinates me is as the attention of the self-driving Google car continues to get the press really smart people are looking at this idea and applying it to other situations. We might not be ready to trust a car with our lives going 60MPH down the freeway. But how about a tractor going about 6MPH around and around in a field? Check out this video:
Of course this really is just the next step for farmers who have already been playing with such technology. My Uncle, who works on a large farm in the middle of Washington State, has a GPS driving device. He lines up the tractor, pushes a button and for the next 45 minutes to an hour (the time it takes to reach the other end of the field) he sits back and reads the newspaper, or a book as the tractor guides itself down to the other end of the field. With perfect overlap and no skips in the field. When he reaches the other end he simply turns the tractor around and heads back.
This is just one area where technology is disrupting farming. New chemicals, new seed varieties, and new machinery that is faster and more efficient continues to out pace our food consumption.
Farmers are also taking advantage of other technologies. Using Twitter to communicate and form networks, using the Internet to research and stay on top of the latest trends and news in their field (pun intended). If you’re not a connected farmer today taking advantage of new ways to connect then like other industries you’re falling behind.
I just keep thinking about all the hours I spent on a tractor going around and around in a field thinking of all the things I wish I was doing instead. Or how my time could have been used differently? I think of my family now and how technology has changed just on our little farm. When I was a kid growing up we used to pick rocks out of the field by hand….then dad bought this rock picking machine (me taking the video and driving)….of course it was after I had gone off to college.
I’m also reminded this time of year by my mother’s Facebook updates
Folded 125 boxes then packed them with beans.
A bean picker picks the beans, a bean sorting table sorts the beans you just line up the boxes, weigh them out to 20 lbs a box and load them on the truck (FYI that’s 2,500 pounds of beans my family did in one day….basically every day….yes these are the green beans you buy at your local grocery store).
Technology is simply amazing and effects us in so many ways….many we take for granted.