More people are being fed than ever before because of the advances in farming technology in the 20th and 21st Centuries. In 1930, one farmer’s work could feed 9.8 people for an entire year. Today, that figure has grown exponentially to 165 people. How are farmers doing it? With technology.
The same technology that helps you navigate your car has had an even larger effect on farming. In the 1990s, farmers began to use the Global Positioning System (GPS), a network of 24 satellites that orbit our planet. Using GPS technology, a farmer can know exactly where they are in the field. By mapping out the nutritional, water, herbicide, fungicide and pesticide needs of different areas of their fields, they can target each section with just the right amount of whatever it needs. GPS technology makes sure their equipment is in the right places to do this. The results are better yields, safer foods, and less environmental impact, because the farmer only has to spend the most time in the areas of their fields that need the most help.
1. With four or more satellites in view, the receiver can determine the tractor or combine's latitude, longitude and even altitude. This tells the farmer, within inches, where they are in the field.
2. GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used to help farmers:
- Guide their tractor or combine
- Map their fields
- Take soil tests
- Control the rate of seed, fertilizer and pesticide applications
- Measure yield
3. GPS allows farmers to work more efficiently and precisely. Fewer rounds in the tractor and less applications reduce the impact on the environment and ensure healthy land for generations to come.
Glass Barn farmer Heather Hill talks about the technology her family uses to raise pigs.