Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: Farm Of The Future

Nobody really knows what the future holds, but the guys at Farm Journal Media are sure compiling enough information to give us an idea of where farming might be by 2025. I try not to think too far ahead, especially since things change so rapidly in this modern world of ours, but some of the things they have come up with are mind-boggling.

Agricultural Drone
For the most part the future involves a lot of technology. No surprise there, especially since we have seen technology increase exponentially in the last couple of years.

Some of the things we are already seeing: tractors that can work the fields unmanned (well mostly unmanned), operating the farm business from your cell phone, using waste by-products as energy sources to run the farm (aka we will see more on-farm anaerobic digesters).

Ones that are less surprising is the use of drones to check crops and fields and being more aware of and in control of the health and well-being of livestock.

The ones that really surprised me were things like:
o   Web cameras in grain elevators
o   Precision planters that plant seed using real time weather data. Precision planters that plant seed in straight rows using GPS and plant the seed in the right spot are already out there…but using real time weather data? Wow.
o   Robots that fight weeds and pests
o   “Smart Dust”-wireless sensors sprinkled in the fields to keep track of everything that is happening

And the King of surprises: 3D printers.

OK, so 3D printers are a revolutionary technology in medicine because being able to print organs can literally save lives. I just never thought about 3D printers being used in other ways, but apparently I’m way behind. It seems they have been used for years by companies like Ford and Michelin. Using 3D printing in an agricultural setting would be mind-blowing. Being able to print tractor parts or tools…seriously?!

There’s even talk that 3D printers are going to be a household item soon…can you imagine just printing something up? We are all going to have to learn to be CAD operators in order to make the products we want.

OK, Warm Bodies isn't Apocalypse enough but too bad! :)
I am seriously fascinated by the potential future. But at the same time I’m not sure I want to see things change all that much. I think using technology as a tool is important. Making it a deity? Not such a good idea.
Maybe I am a little old fashioned, but in case there is a zombie apocalypse and I survive, I want to be able to farm without technology. Cause heaven knows it probably won’t survive the zombie apocalypse. Not that I will either, but hey, just in case there need to be people in the world who remember the way things were done way back when.

As long as we don’t lose our history, and our knowledge of history, the techno-future may not be so bad. I know Cody will still be out in the tractor though. And I will probably have my team of horses to pull a sleigh in the snow.

Changing with the times is good as long as we don’t forget where we’ve been.

If you want to see more of Farm of The Future, check it out here


  1. I can't say that I know what an anaerobic digester is...?

    1. Sorry Colby I should have been more clear on that! I forget that anaerobic digesters are becoming more common on hog and dairy farms, but not so apparent elsewhere! Anaerobic digesters are used in manure management as a way to reduce methane emissions, pathogens, etc. The main product is biogas which is used to generate electricity and heat (which can be used to operate the farm or sometimes can be sold on the grid) but there are other end products that can be used for livestock bedding, compost or fertilizer. Basically it is a way to utilize the large quantities of waste in a more environmentally and economically friendly manner. The cost and sometimes finicky nature of the digesters can be prohibitive but they are gaining favor. I hope that clears things up a little bit!