Farmers who aren't yet ready to hand over the tractor keys to a machine can still take advantage of new technology to make the most of their time behind the wheel. In the same way that GPS helps drivers find the shortest route from points A to B, the mapping systems are being widely used to help farmers follow a straight line when plowing their fields for planting.
In a 2014 survey by British publication Farmers Weekly, growers cited GPS steering as the top new farm technology in use, ahead of robotic milking machines and smartphones. It allows them to save time, energy, fertilizer and seed by ensuring that they don't cover the same area twice [source: Griffiths].
Author's Note: 10 High-tech Tools on the Typical Farm
I'm no farmer, but I was certainly glad to learn about all of the technological advances coming to the agricultural industry. You see – like any urban yuppie worth his salt – I want my food organic, I want it fresh and I want it at the lowest possible price. I also don't really want to wait in line for it. Here's hoping that the push for efficiency eventually makes its way to my local farmers market.
- 5 Farming Technologies That Changed the World
- Farm Hacks - How Open Source Farm Technology Can Help Small Farmer Succeed
- What were the famous Eli Whitney inventions?
- Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs We Literally Couldn't Live Without
- Top 10 Industrial Revolution Inventions
- Anderson, Chris. "Agricultural Drones." MIT Technology Review. April 30, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/526491/agricultural-drones/
- Beckham, Chris. "Cotton Irrigation App Helps Farmers Manage Water Usage." Farm Journal. May 5, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.agweb.com/farmjournal/article/cotton_irrigation_app_helps_farmers_manage_water_usage_NAA_University_News_Release/
- Coxworth, Ben. "Cows check in for meals using electronic ear tags." Gizmag. July 28, 2011 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.gizmag.com/electronic-ear-tags-for-cattle/19374/
- Espinoza, Javier. "Is the Driverless Tractor the Future for Farmers?" The Wall Street Journal. Nov. 20, 2013 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303936904579177531155474254
- Griffiths, Sarah. "From robotic milk maids to self-driving tractors and drones that monitor crops: Scientists reveal the future of farming." Daily Mail. June 5, 2014 (Aug. 26, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2648499/From-robotic-milk-maids-self-driving-tractors-drones-monitor-crops-Scientists-reveal-future-farming.html
- History.com. "Cotton Gin and Eli Whitney." (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/cotton-gin-and-eli-whitney
- Howard, Fran. "Cloud Cover: How is Your Data Stored?" Farm Journal. July 26, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.agweb.com/farmjournal/article/cloud_cover_how_is_your_data_stored_NAA_Fran_Howard/Kinze Manufacturing. "Kinze Announces the World's First Electric Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter." Dec. 10, 2013. (Aug. 26, 2014) http://www.kinze.com/article.aspx?id=167&Kinze+Announces+the+World%27s+First+Electric+Multi-Hybrid+Concept+Planter
- McKinley, Jesse. "With Farm Robotics, the Cows Decide When It's Milking Time." The New York Times. April 22, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/nyregion/with-farm-robotics-the-cows-decide-when-its-milking-time.html?_r=0
- Nolte, Beth. "Nitrogen from Fertilizers: Too Much of a Good Thing." ChemMatters. April 2010 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/education/resources/highschool/chemmatters/archive/nitrogen-cm-april-2010.pdf
- Plumer, Brad. "Farmers turn to engineered corn to adapt to drought. But will it be enough?" The Washington Post. Aug. 15, 2012 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/15/farmers-turn-to-engineered-corn-to-adapt-to-drought-but-will-it-be-enough/
- Potter, Ben. "High-Tech Soil Sampling." Farm Journal. Aug. 11, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.agweb.com/farmjournal/article/high-tech_soil_sampling_NAA_Ben_Potter/
- SmartIrrigation. "SmartIrrigation Apps." (Aug. 25, 2014) http://smartirrigationapps.org/
- Trimble. "GreenSeeker handheld crop sensor." (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.trimble.com/Agriculture/gs-handheld.aspx
- Van Vark, Caspar. "From agribusiness to subsistence: high-tech tools now available to all." The Guardian. June 4, 2014 (Aug. 25, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/jun/04/subsistence-farming-precision-agriculture
Time flies in the age of the internet. HowStuffWorks looks at 10 things that weren't around just 10 years ago.