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Ag News | Country Lifestyle | November 16, 2017

Tech on the Farm (and Ranch)

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In the U.S., technology and farming are coming together in ways that could make small farms and ranches just as viable as large-scale operations. Imagine a world where drones mounted with multispectral cameras report on plant and soil health. The farmer could then use that data to regulate water, pesticides, fertilizers, and monitor growth.

The fact is crop and livestock management practices around the world are getting more technologically advanced. While some experts estimate that up to 40% of global crop yields are lost to pests and diseases1, robotics could help reverse that alarming trend.

Today’s Advances

Oregon State University has been at the forefront of this research and development for some time, helping develop the digital farm of the future, including drones, fiber-optic cables, and the use of radio frequencies. A good portion of the research is being done by the NEWAg Lab (Nexus of Energy, Water, and Agriculture), which is part of OSU’s Department of Biology and Ecological Engineering. The goal is the help farmers and ranchers make the best possible decisions based on real-time data.

Tech and Livestock

Smart collars for cattle have been around for a while, but advances could make it easy to track fertility, activity, feed intake, stress, and illnesses. Additionally, researchers in Belgium have developed a camera system to monitor broods of chickens and diminish problems based on predictive models.

Ag Tech is Big Business

Companies like FutureFarm in Pendleton, Oregon as well as Agribotix in Boulder, Colorado are helping shape the commercial aspects of farming technology. While monitoring a farm from the sky is a great breakthrough, there are other areas where robotics and technology are expected to change farms and ranches across the country.

UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are being developed to collect photos and other vital data about crops, including the location of livestock, as well as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) that is being developed to better trace crops from field to factory. Additionally, fiber optics will make it possible to measure air temperature near the ground in specific fields, satellites are being employed to trace water usage and needs, and laser systems are being developed to look for pathogens between plants.

Working Robots

From soil health to water usage, a farmer’s smartphone and other device are expected to be at the center of future innovations. While it might seem like sci-fi, robots that answer to these smart devices are expected to become viable for harvest in the near future. That includes picking lettuce, strawberries, and other crops.

Let’s Talk about Tech

The folks at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal like to keep up with new technology that makes farming and ranching easier. Stop by today and ask about today’s innovations that could save you time and money around your homestead, including feed and watering systems for your livestock, garden, and fields.

1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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