Advancing Agri-TechPosted on Aug 9, 2022
Modern tools have grown from luxury to a necessity in today’s agricultural industry
A little over a year ago, in an effort to bring more awareness to advances in technology issues within the state’s agriculture industry, and the ever-increasing need for “agri-tech” on the farm, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) and commodity groups throughout the state joined together to form a Coalition of Production Agriculture.
One of the first moves from coalition members was to introduce the Kentucky Production Agri-Tech (KPAT) Initiative complete with a white paper detailing the group’s concerns related to ag-related technology particularly those associated with production agriculture.
The document, which was distributed throughout the agriculture community, along with state and national government leaders, included a list of priorities needed to take full advantage of the technological advances available to farm families. Some of those priorities include:
- Achieving adequate broadband service throughout all areas of the state.
- Education initiatives to help with training and continued educational needs within the technology realm.
- Marketing to bring the world of agriculture and consumers together with accurate information.
- Research to continue the advancements made in the agricultural industry over the years as advanced technology plays a more prominent role on the farm.
The advantages modern technology and precision agriculture provide to the farm have become more important than ever. With issues such as skyrocketing input prices, the role agriculture plays in climate change conversations, and an ongoing need to be more productive on less land, technology is a major factor when it comes to achieving goals on these and many other farm-related issues.
KFB President Mark Haney said the use of technological advances on the farm is, more often than not, a necessity as farm families look for ways to remain profitable.
“We have utilized technology on the farm for many years, while developing practices, such as no-till production through extensive research efforts,” he said. “But, as inputs prices continue to rise, the modern technology that applies to the farm can make a difference in keeping farms in business or not. Continued technological advances and research could prove to be the game-changer in farm sustainability.”
Emily Buckman, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Director of Government Affairs works directly with that organization’s Technology Issue Advisory Committee and said agri-tech is something that's evolved with time.
“Over the years we've certainly seen a higher adoption of precision ag technologies and practices, especially as we see more connected machines being developed by equipment manufacturers as well as more tech companies emerging in the ag sector,” she said. “We definitely see peaked interest from farmers and ranchers in exploring opportunities to utilize new technologies that come into the market for enhanced productivity, efficiency, and profitability.”
Buckman added that when sustainability efforts are discussed, the subject of technology used in agriculture is a part of the conversation.
The AFBF economics team put together statistical information that highlights what advanced technology and research have allowed farmers to be more productive. The team found that it would've required a hundred million more acres in 1990 to grow what farm families grow today, and for every single input that goes into farming, US farmers produce 2.7 times more.
KFB Second Vice President Sharon Furches, who serves on the AFBF Technology Issue Advisory Committee, said technology is nothing new on the farm but, as is the case in almost all industries, it is growing and evolving every day.
“Having adequate connectivity and speed is essential in everything we do on the farm - from equipment monitors, repair issues, marketing our crops, and maintaining our records and inventory,” she said. “Up-to-date technology is an absolute must on the farm.”
Furches, who has served on the committee for several years, said it’s always amazing to see what is happening across the ag industry from a technology standpoint.
“Even though our farms may be very different, individually, the issues affecting them are often the same; especially when it comes to broadband access, cybersecurity, right to repair issues, and maintaining our ag data,” she said.
Buckman said the necessity of technology on the farm can’t be overstated.
“We see new advancements every single day, and if you're not exploring those, then you're very well susceptible to being left behind, as we continue to participate in a 21st-century global marketplace,” she said.
Haney pointed out that U.S. agriculture competes in a world market and being competitive in that market is one of the keys to keeping farms in this country in business.
"We have many strategic advantages in this country when it comes to agricultural production, most of which rely on advanced technology," he said. "If we are expected to keep those advantages, we must continue to incorporate this type of technology on the farm in a reliable, affordable way.”