Evolution of Agriculture Boosted by Technology

[Tifton, GA/John Holcomb – Reporting]
Farming has been around since the dawn of time, and since its very humble beginning,
a lot has changed, especially the equipment and technology that’s used which allows farmers
to do a lot more with a lot less, which can be attributed to researchers and research
institutions like the University of Georgia, and a thing called precision agriculture. [Wesley Porter/Precision Ag & Irrigation Specialist,
UGA Extension] Precision ag on the basic level is just using
technologies, whether that’s an actual physical technology or tool, you know from a machine
system, a computer controller, computer, etc. or a technique and applying it to a production
practice so that we can improve our production practices and become more profitable in the
end, whether that’s gaining more yield, whether it’s better matching our inputs, or like I
said, in the end, what we want to do is become more profitable by utilizing that technology
to do that. [John]
One way producers can do that is by utilizing yield mapping technology: which use sensors
that can be added to grain and cotton harvesters that produce an image like this one of the
different zones around a producer’s fields. [Porter]
A yield map basically becomes the end all, tell all of what we’ve done throughout the
year. It’s how good did we do spatially throughout
that field, and so all producers are going to know, you know where my low yielding spots
are at, my high yielding spots are at, but what this does is actually quantifies those
for me throughout my fields and across my farm, so that map ends up becoming or can
become a powerful tool for us to use throughout the rest of the year. [John]
The yield maps, which are merged with different types of information like soil types and different
inputs, combines the data which can be translated to producers to allow them to see just how
profitable, or how not so profitable their fields are. [Porter]
When we bring the quantification back to it, we know how high, high is, how low, low is,
and then we use that data and we combine it with our production costs, so we overlay production
costs on top of that and then take a current crop price and see what our, we’re actually
going to get paid for that yield or that crop minus our production costs off of that, we
see what our profitability is, so once we start understanding spatially throughout that
field or spatially throughout an entire farm, where we’re consistently profitable or where
we’re potentially consistently losing money on that farm, or we’re breaking even. [John]
Once producers see the data, they can make planting, fertilizing, watering, and other
decisions for their farm to make sure they’re not losing money, because at the end of the
day, farming operations are like businesses: they need to make money or at least break
even in order to survive. [Porter]
What can we do at that point to make production changes, to make sure we stay above that break-even
point? So, there’s a lot of things there if we look
at what our input costs are and what they’re tied back to. Seeding rate of course is one that everyone
talks about really quickly, fertility management is another, is there some sort of spray regime
that we’ve done out in that farm that’s changed that we need to look at a little bit differently. Is there land that’s never profitable, if
there’s land that’s never profitable, you might need to take and start looking at changing
either the crop that we grow there, whether that’s just a different crop rotation or do
we need to switch it to something like pine trees, take it out of production, do we need
to look at some other option or alternative? [John]
Reporting in Tifton for the Farm Monitor, I’m John Holcomb.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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