Spring 2020 Logan County
Farm Outlook Magazine

Farming is one of the highest tech industries in the world!
By Jim Youngquist

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[March 23, 2020]  Former Democratic Presidential candidate and billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg suggested during a 2016 talk that farming requires less “gray matter” than modern technology jobs. “I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Bloomberg told the audience at the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

This statement from Bloomberg was very naive, did not endear many farmers to his campaign, and reflects how little he knows about modern farming practices (perhaps that is the main reason for him being a "Former" Presidential candidate).

Bloomberg - You Don't Have a Clue

Farming has progressed from Bloomberg's simple understanding of hole/seed/water to become one of the highest tech industries in the world today.

The Oxford dictionary defines technology as "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry; machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge; the branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences.

Farmers and the farming industry began to adapt technology to farming in the early 20th century. Careful observation of processes and needs has helped the ag industry produce incredible technology to enhance productivity. The principle is simple: grow more with less manual labor, less acreage and less time spent in the fields and with livestock.

Mechanization on the Farm in the Early 20th Century

As the world population grew, technological advances in transportation, storage, and processing allowed for larger crops to come to market and become food, and as a result the farming industry grew in leaps and bounds during this time. Farming went from being merely a small local enterprise to an international mega-business. Steam engines were first used to provide power for farming tasks, but advances in steel and combustion allowed for larger plots to be tilled and larger crops to be harvested. Automated planters replaced hand and animal labor, and in time the combine replaced hand picking. The farm grew with and kept pace with the need for food and the rise of technology.

Planting Corn and Soybeans

Farming was one of the first industries to adopt and utilize computerization. As the scale of farming grew, the accounting side of farming became more and more complex. Farming was no longer an economy of guesswork (But we always did it this way!). The purchases of bigger and more expensive machines and implements with financing and credit meant that the farm needed to computerize its accounting. Skinny profits had to be carefully managed because inaccurate financial management meant failure, foreclosure and finally a farm sale.

Computerized accounting on the farm with PCs and printers meant that the producer could keep close track of inputs and costs, present accurate financial data to the banker, and the result was that the farm could prosper and grow even during lean years.

Accounting & Bookkeeping for Farmers

Mechanical devices and mechanization has allowed farmers to manage more acres and more livestock with less labor. The variety of machines and the tasks that have been automated is amazing. The resultant growth of scale has allowed this generation of farmers to keep pace with and feed the growing population of the world.

Modern Farming Machines & Technology for amazing productivity

Climatologists say that the climate is always changing. The result is that sometimes areas that formerly got sufficient rainfall no longer get enough rain to support crops. Technology has produced efficient irrigation systems and equipment to deal with advancing drought and keep drought cropland in production.

Center Pivot and Linear Irrigation Equipment for Farming

Climate presents a continually moving target. This means that some cropland will receive an over-abundance of seasonal rain, causing serial-replanting and soil erosion. Technology has developed equipment for installing drain tiling under the field to move abundant rainfall away from the productivity zone, prevent ponding and control erosion.

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Installing Farm Drain Tile to Prevent Erosion

While UBER and Tesla are working hard on producing self-driving cars, the farm industry has had self-steering machines for about the last 20 years. Utilizing GPS and enhanced radio equipment called RTK, tractors and combines can steer themselves to the accuracy of the sub-inch. Utilizing combines with RTK and built-in computers, farmers can gauge field productivity on every pass, and interfacing with the farm computer, farmers can custom applicate fertilizers to the acreage based on actual productivity, thereby saving time and money.

John Deere brings farming into the future with self-driving equipment

Watching the crops and keeping track of diseases, insect populations and even spot fertilizer needs has always been important on the farm. Drones now provide a sky-view of crops and productivity, and can even apply insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers as needed rather than broadcast, so the crops and land are healthier and costs are lower.

Top 5 Reasons To Use A Farming Drone in 2019

The future of farming is closely tied to technological advances, self steering mechanization, drones that can spot problems and apply specific fixes, more compacted land use, healthier uses of fertilizers and pesticides, and computerization. Some experts prognosticate vertical farming with hydroponics, micro farms producing 100 times the current crop on existing acreage, operations to replenish the soil depth, and water management systems to provide necessary irrigation for crops. It is predicted that the world population will grow from the current seven billion to ten billion by 2050, and agriculture with technology will provide the food they need to eat.

The Future of Farming

Farmers are some of the most intelligent people on this planet, and have harnessed technology to increase productivity, lower costs and manpower, and provide the necessary food supply for a growing population. Mike Bloomberg could learn a lot in just an afternoon listening to a farmer and observing a modern farm operation. Once upon a time it began with hole/seed/water, but with technology the best is yet to come!


Read all the articles in our new
2020 Spring Farm Outlook Magazine

Introduction Farm Outlook spring 2020 4
Local banker Dave Irwin observes a decade of change 7
Farming is one of the highest tech industries in the world! 13
Trump Bucks, Trade Deals and what may be ahead 18
Illinois specialty crops in the 2019 season 21
WOMEN IN AG:  An interview with Skye Kretzinger 28
WOMEN IN AG:  Passion leads this young trio at Central Illinois Ag 32
WOMEN IN AG:  Women in farming 37
Johns and Susan Adams from Atlanta selected as 2020 Master Farmers 40
NWS:  No repeat oif last year's disastrous weather in the 2020 long-range forecast 43
Logan County 2019 soybean estimate gets a 'no report' 45
2019 corn and soybean yields 48


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