Technology is constantly changing around us.
I think back on my 32 years of life and in such a short time frame much is not how it used to be. Like electricity, it’s something most of us cannot live without it.
Technology in agriculture amazes me. Cows are now milked and fed by robots, a crop can be planted precisely based on global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates without the aid of a human, and the Internet is now utilized as a source of marketing, ordering supplies for a farm, and tax preparation. According to Farmers Feed Us, today’s American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960, that number was 25.8. With Earth’s population continuing to rise I am optimistic this efficiency will only increase.
This past week I had the privilege of attending Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, a three-day tradeshow geared toward those in agriculture seeking to find the next technological advancement in an industry they love. It showcases the latest improvements in production agriculture, including many practical applications of recent research findings and technological developments.
Sometimes I think the public wants us to go back in time and farm like how they used to in the early 1950s. This time paints a picture of simplicity, tranquility, and the “good life.” This era in history featured an agrarian lifestyle dominating the landscape where mom and pop milked 20 cows in a stanchion barn in addition to having pigs, horses, beef cows, and chickens on the farm.
I am not saying there was anything wrong with this way of life but simply put, its the past, a way of yesteryear. Agriculture is hard work. It’s not a 9-5 job with great benefits and weekends off. Sixty years ago you didn’t just work hard, you worked harder. Kids were in shape and you could eat what you wanted because you worked it off! But unfortunately though, the physical labor took its toll on the body. I watched how it affected my grandpa when he replaced both of his knees for two artificial ones, one which caused him severe pain the last five years of his life.
Advances in agriculture have allowed for those who work in it to lead longer, more productive lives and that’s just it… have a life! Growing up my dad told me they never even took a full day of vacation because they couldn’t, someone had to be home to milk the cows. Why have things changed? Agriculture today is less physical labor intensive.. We are working smarter. Today’s tractors and implements can perform a task in just a few hours that would have taken all day to 50+ years ago.
Technology has changed and will continue to change agriculture. Having shaped the past, it will shape the future as well.