10 High-tech Tools on the Typical Farm

Precision Soil Sampling
Old-school soil sampling involved a shovel and some back-bracing work. The AutoProbe machine pulls behind the tractor and picks up samples automatically. Bart Coenders/Getty Images

The AutoProbe may sound like a strange tool used by the same aliens who leave creepy crop circles in rural farm communities overnight. Or maybe it's that cold metal object that haunting extraterrestrials used to go to town on the people of South Park in the classic episode "The Stick of Truth." In this case, however, the truth is that farmers use AutoProbes to take dozens of soil samples in a matter of seconds [source: Potter].

The machine routinely digs about 6 inches (15 centimeters) below the surface of a farm, taking samples while being pulled behind a tractor. No more hunting and pecking with a metal pole. Instead, growers can take consistent samples with the help of GPS technology and compare them from the same areas over time [source: Potter]. Soil sampling is very important for farmers as it give them information on what kind of nutrients their soil will need for maximum crop production.