Agri-tech promises to make farming easier, more sustainable, and more profitable. Yet, some farmers have trouble adapting to the notion that technology can improve upon what they’re already doing well.
If you’re even a little bit country, you’ve probably heard Toby Keith’s song “It’s a Hard Way to Make an Easy Living.” It’s from his 2013 album, Drinks after Work.
The song follows country music’s trend of writing songs that pay homage to an aspect of American life. Something we can all be proud of – in this case farming. Most of all, it offers fans some down-home wisdom.
Harder Isn’t Necessarily Better
The song presents a laundry list of challenges farmers face to provide commodities like grain and corn. Too often the world seems entitled and unappreciative. Sound familiar? Keith’s message is that most people’s ideas of farmers are far from reality. (You can watch the video here.)
“It’s a Hard Way to Make an Easy Living” tells the story of Toby Keith’s friend. Everyone thinks of his friend as livin’ easy because of the size of his farming operation. But to Keith, it just looks like “a hard, hard way” to earn a living.
The lyrics paint a picture of farm life that is anything but enviable. The work is hard, the days start too early and end too late. Variables like the weather are beyond the farmer’s control. There’s an expectation to deliver at the cheapest price, regardless of costs. There are good years and bad years, and sometimes the good years have too many bad years between them.
You may be nodding your head right now and thinking, “Nailed it.”
A lot of what the song says about farming is true. It is hard. Very hard.
But you have to wonder, could a shift in mindset make a felt difference?
The Promise of Agri-Tech
If you knew for certain that you could make farming easier, more sustainable, and more profitable, would you?
Those are the promises of new agricultural technologies. Yet, some farmers have trouble believing that technology can improve on what they’re already doing well without it.
Understandable. Agriculture is still the world’s least digitized industry. Sometimes change is slow. The thing is though, it’s also inevitable.
So the first problem to solve (likely one you didn’t know you had) may be adjusting your own mindset. If you want to position the family farm for future success, this mental shift toward accepting technology has to happen. Either adapt, or face an uncertain future. No exaggeration.
You may not see yourself buying autonomous tractors or robotics for your farm – yet. But there are other specific, affordable technologies that can solve a myriad of problems. And, they’ll do it faster and more efficiently, while stretching your belief muscle and inching you toward the future.
You’re already good at finding better and easier ways to farm, or you wouldn’t still be in operation. After all, you aren’t plowing and planting with horses anymore. Clearly, you’ve accepted other forms of farm technology in the past.
Why? Because they provided you value. They made life easier, and made operations more efficient. You can have the same expectations of new technologies moving forward. Science and technology can create a more sustainable, tech-savvy version of your family farm.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Data Collection’s Usefulness to Decision-Making
GPS technologies on John Deere tractors help farmers work in low visibility. They assist with field mapping and soil sampling. WaterBit helps farmers customize water applications to soil using moisture sensors. Tri-States Grain Conditioning helps farmers monitor stored grain temperature, even remotely.
There are technology wearables for cows, and drones for terrain mapping. Sensors measure the composition of liquid manure and adjust spraying in real-time. An ever growing list of other useful agri-tech products provide farmers value.
Probably one of the most important uses for these technologies on your farm is real-time data collection and analysis. It helps you make informed decisions critical to your farming.
For example, more stored grain goes out of condition due to uncontrolled temperature than for any other reason. Knowing the temperature of your grain is key to knowing whether spoilage is happening, or not. If you know what your grain’s temperature is, you know what you need to do with your grain.
You can use that information to make fan decisions that keep energy costs down, reduce shrink, and maintain profits. Some grain monitoring systems like GrainTrac even allow for remote monitoring. You can check your grain temperature anytime, anywhere, from any device. This feels like a pretty big deal when it’s below zero outside. Especially since you can check grain temperature over a hot cup of coffee from the comfort of your kitchen.
Cost and Ease of Use Considerations
Cost is an undeniable factor in integrating these new technologies into your farming operations. But, the tighter your budget, the more important these strategic, data-based decisions are to your farm’s economic sustainability.
Learning how to use agri-technology that collects and stores data is well worth the effort. You’ll be making data-driven decisions that take the money-wasting guesswork out of farm management in no time. The reward for your persistence is making farm management easier. Additionally, decision-making will be more precise for a more sustainable and profitable future.
Farming may be a hard way to make an easy living, but agri-tech makes easy living more attainable. Now, that’s useful.