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Technology In and Out of Agriculture

December 16, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe love technology – or do we? Many people want things to go back to pre-technology times, citing a lack of trust and concerns of health. So it was absolutely fascinating to me to pick up the 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac (yes we still use it!) and read some tidbits.

It talked of trends including farm operated drones to fly over a farmer’s land for observation of crops, or livestock. Robots with foam padded hands that pick strawberries without bruising fruit, which would solve worker issues in the fields. It talked of trucks with cameras to locate oranges, and using hydraulic arms to knock fruit from trees. Automated tractors.

This is in addition to technologies like genetically modified crops, artificial insemination and embryo transfer of livestock, cloning, timers that turn lights on and off, applications that can help a farmer operate things on the farm with a smart phone. There are robot milkers where cows can approach on her own schedule.

Often we hear consumers hate it. Here at SlowMoneyFarm we use some technology, but it pales compared to some friends who make use of much more. I see the criticism of those things, so the other tidbits amazed me. Other trends?

There’s the DNA samples to be analyzed for chronic conditions that folks might be at risk for. There’s the vibrating forks that tell us to eat slower, and bracelets that measure our sleep and tools to diagnose health problems with exhaled breath. There’s microchips that are implanted to dispense medications, eliminating the need to swallow meds. Then the real surprise:

The major trend for 2014 will be the increasing use of the smart phone as the hub or medicine and health. This is not DIY medicine, but one in which the consumer is truly empowered and crates a new partnership model with the physician, still needing the knowledge, empathy, communication and experience of the doctor. – Dr. Eric Topol, chief academic officer, Scripps Health, San Diego.

While many look at the Almanac as being “old fashioned” the trends are also something I find of interest. It might alter what we plant, if there’s a serious interest in something *else* we don’t offer. But that medical care is put in the hands of technology from a public who, we hear, doesn’t trust technology is incredible.

Of course, in agriculture there are alternatives for those who don’t want technology. Still, the difference is incredible. Our grandparents could not have imagined!

Where’s the tech line for you?

 

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