Agriculture This Week - On eve of farm tech explosion

Writing about technology on the farm is not new in this space, but it is a theme that will be repeated often over the next decade-plus for anyone writing about agriculture because it will be the ongoing story, trumped only on occasion by weather disasters or political interference in trade as we move forward. 

Technology is taking massive steps forward in terms of precision farming, the focused application of fertilizers and herbicides exactly where they are needed, and not where they would be wasted. It is technology that is moving forward because of improvements in global positioning tech, and equally important sensors required to identify where product needs to be applied. 

The increased knowledge of GPS is also a key in the emergence of more robotic field units. The GPS tech is piggybacked with improved robotic options, and the combination brings robotic tractors patrolling fields, potentially 24 hours a day, not tiring, simply working that much closer to reality on every farm. 

And, therein lies the next step for the tech explosion I anticipate. 

At the present we are still on the lead up to broad utilization of robotic tech, in part because the tech needs to be tested and proven over large acres before many producers will look to making the investment. 

And there is the cist. New tech typically comes at a high cost, from VCRs to flat screen televisions, to driverless cars to robotic tractors. When production begins to ramp up, costs drops, and it allows for wider acceptance and use. 
Of course, this is the tech we see in the field already. 

Imagine what is on the drawing board in design departments behind closed doors? 

We are beginning to see various areas of technology coming together to take farm equipment to places no one would have imagined even a decade or two ago. 

In the future field labour, finding someone to operate the tractor or combine may well be a thing of history, with the skill of the future being able to maintain computer systems from a central location operating a fleet of robot machines. 

There are times I read my own columns and can’t help to think it all sounds very much like something out of a science fiction story I may have read in my youth, but often the imagined fiction of one era becomes the realized successes of science in another, and that is the case here. 

The future in this case is still to be fully realized, but from the vantage point of today we have a pretty good indication of how foundationally changing it will be in terms of how farmers farm.

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