Technology is quickly spreading from urban streets to rural farmland. Innovations in agricultural technology are enabling farmers to multiply their yields while using resources more efficiently. According to Dr. Greg Graff of Colorado State University, "The technological improvements in agriculture over the last half of the century--of which Colorado farmers and agribusinesses are at the forefront--have doubled our production capacity while using the same amount of resources." But what are these advancements, exactly?
Advancements in Agricultural Technology
Drones and smart irrigation systems are transforming the way crops are planted, inspected, and harvested. Thanks to agriscience, these modern marvels maximize efficiency in regard to water use, pesticide application, fertilization, and pest and disease control.
Innovations in Agriculture: Drones
Before drones, farmers would have to gauge the overall health of a field by inspecting a small portion. Now, farmers can analyze the entire field, see where any problems are, and take action to address them before yields are negatively impacted. This makes it much easier to expend resources efficiently. Drones can also be used to inspect buildings and wind turbines.
Smart Irrigation Systems
According to SARE, or Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, agricultural educators are working closely with Colorado farmers to install smart irrigation systems. With these systems, you can customize your field's watering schedule and run times. They also monitor weather, soil conditions, evaporation rates, and plant water and adjust watering schedules accordingly. Because these systems provide water directly to crop roots, minimal water is found at the surface. This dramatically reduces the presence of disease and weeds. Furthermore, sensors and GPS units allow farmers to locate the dripline and analyze soil conditions and evaporation rates. This leads to much more effective water and fertilizer use. Since these systems connect with tablets and smartphones, farmers can control water and fertilizer usage with the touch of a button.
From surveying entire fields to inspecting wind turbines, drones add a brand-new perspective to the world of farming. Smart irrigation systems, with the use of sensors and GPS signals, enable farmers to use resources more efficiently. The environment also benefits from these smart systems; according to an article by Farm Favor, Rod Weimer of Fagerberg Producestates that, "Everything you put into the drip irrigation is actually used by the plant. Nothing runs off. Nothing contaminates streams." From preventing over-application of pesticides, chemicals, and water to increasing yields, innovations in agriculture technology truly are transforming the way America, and Colorado, farms.