Minnesota Farmer

30 days: Keeping up with the tech after the harvest

Changes in technology have changed every part of life in this world, and agriculture is not exempt.  So for the 27th installment of the 30 day challenge let’s talk a bit about keeping up on the farm.

Back in the 80’s I was one of the early farm folks to computerize my record keeping.  As much as possible I put all of our financials, herd records and inventories on my old 128K Mac.  So much has changed since then, but I’ve had a bit of trouble keeping up.  Today’s young farmers are pushing technology on the farm now like I was then and there is so much more to use.  My father, at 83, is even more behind in his understanding of the technology, but happy to use it if someone else will set it up for him.Unknown

My first “computer” in the tractor was a spray monitor.  It dramatically improved my ability to control how I applied weed control products to my fields.  Instead of having to measure off a known distance and measuring the amount of water applied, now the computer changed application rates on the go to calibrate our chemical applications.  Every step along the way we have improved on that computer assisted ability.  I know that our current spray controller is old technology and it is less than ten years old.  I could have even more control if I updated my equipment.

Raven spray control

Raven spray control

Our combine harvester is 15 years old.  For us the technology is cutting edge, and yet I know I could have so much more.  We have automatic control of the header height that even tilts the head if one side is too far off the ground.  We have a monitor that tells us the moisture and yield of the crops as we harvest them.  There are shaft monitors and grain loss monitors, it is indeed a high-tech machine, but it is not even close to what is found on modern combines.

Computers inside the cab are increasing in modern farm machinery

Computers inside the cab are increasing in modern farm machinery

You can get satellite images of your farm that will help you find out things you never knew were important.images

Tractors tied to satellites and the Global Positioning System are taking over the steering and leading to greater efficiency mainly by decreasing overlap when tilling fields.  The technology also means an operator is not as tired after a long day in the field.Glen08-gps1

Lest you think that technology is only found in crop machinery, let’s talk a little tech in livestock.

Lely-astronaut robotic miker

Lely-astronaut robotic milker

There are robotic milkers that do all of the things that human milkers used to do.

automatic hog sorter

automatic hog sorter

Our new hog barn has a computer operated hog sorter that weighs pigs and puts the market ready ones in a separate pen from those not ready for market.  If something goes wrong in the barn, the computer will call and tell us what the problem is.

Most of this new technology is also wired so that it will tie into your home computer or smart phone.

Technology is driving the new advances in agriculture.  We are being asked to produce more with fewer inputs and less damage to the environment.  I just know that farmers are up to the task, and the new technology of agriculture will be there to help us.




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[…] being in the board room of large companies, reviewing various farm quality assurance programs or checking into the latest technology (he gives a great overview of tech on his farm over the […]

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