In the last 50 years, farming has changed drastically. Now, Livestock is usually raised inside, yields are now higher, and less manual labor is needed. It is also uncommon to see dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, and poultry on the same farm nowadays. You may ask, Why is this? The answer is really easy; “Technology.”
You can take a look at how much technology has improved communications, and transportation medicine & healthcare and other fields only in the last 50 years. In the same fit, technology has also changed the field of agriculture so much. If you’re interested in agriculture and its improvements si far, then this article is for you. In this article, we will be focusing on the ways through which technology has changed agriculture.
1. Technology in Livestock Breeding and Genetics
Improving livestock breeds has been a practice existing for as long as you can imagine. Humans started domesticating animals over 10,000 years ago. Decades ago, early farmers selected livestock for their adaption to specific climates. Then, they would breed them to improve productivity, temperament, and meat, leather, and wool quality. Although this practice is not new, the technology used to improve livestock genetics and breed animals have changed dramatically and drastically in recent years.
Now, Animal geneticists work to pick out elements within genes that can enhance animal growth. Health, and ability to utilize nutrients are also inclusive. These genetic advances can really increase production while simultaneously reducing environmental impacts.
It is now a common practice for beef cattle and pig farmers to purchase straws of semen from male animals with superior genetics. Then, they use artificial insemination to breed females. Another thing gaining popularity in the dairy and beef cattle is Embryo transfer.
2. Technology in Crop genetics & pest management.
Just like livestock breeding, the thought of improving plant genetics is not new. Before now, farmers and scientists have used plant selection and breeding techniques to help improve crop yield for so many years. Plant breeders have also worked to improve germplasm to develop seeds. They are able to achieve this with the best mix of characteristics. That way, they can deliver the best yield for specific soil and weather conditions.
Now, plant breeders combine both traditional and modern methods to improve plants. Modern breeding methods are quite a lot. One ] of these modern breeding methods include marker-assisted breeding. This method helps in speeding up the time it takes to get the desired improvement. As well, it speeds up genetic engineering (GE). GE technology can help improve a plant’s insect resistance. It can also help with drought tolerance, herbicide tolerance, and disease resistance. This technology gives farmers an added tool to help increase crop yields.
3. Technology in Labor and mechanization
With improved farm equipment, farmers have been able to do way more. Improved farm equipment has probably had one of the most significant impacts on how farmers raise crops and care for livestock. With tractors, planters, amongst others, results are much larger and efficient. Livestock barns now have automated feeders. Another addition is robotic milking machines. Now, there are Robotic milking machines that milk cows. These technologies along with so many others have allowed farmers to produce more with less labor.
4. Technology in Livestock facilities
Apart from beef cattle, livestock is now raised inside climate-controlled barns. Farmers usually do this to protect them from predators, extreme weather conditions, and diseases that are spread by other animals and people. By raising livestock inside, it also allows farmers to make full use of technology. Additionally, a lot of livestock barns now have Wi-Fi and automated feed and climate control systems. Because of technology, Farmers can also now monitor a cow in labor. They can also adjust the temperature in a barn from their smartphones. Also, in the instance where the power goes out, there are now back-up generators that start. Also, the farmer is then alerted with a text. This technology allows farmers to perform more efficiently. They can also take better care of their animals.
5. Technology in Specialization
A long time ago, farms looked like images in children’s books. Almost everything on their farm was raised in bits. They also made a good living and fed their family off 160 acres of corn and hay. There were also a few cows, laying hens, some pigs amongst other livestock. However, over the years, farming has changed. As most farmers invested in tractors and better livestock facilities, they also concentrated their efforts to make the most of those investments. Also, other farmers started to focus on only one or two livestock.
As we have it today, farms are now way more specialized. Nowadays, if farmers raise livestock, they usually focus mostly on just one type. They will also even focus on one growth-stage. Most pig farms now specialize in farrowing or finishing. For Beef cattle farmers, they generally have cow-calf herds and focus on breeding, calving, and weaning, or finishing operations where they raise weaned caves to market weight. The act of specializing allows farmers to acquire the facilities, technology, knowledge, and skills needed to produce the chosen crop or animal, and also produce it well.
6. Technology in Agricultural Drone Package
During the period drones were first introduced to the agricultural industry, farmers were a bit hesitant to invest in the technology. Quite a lot of things seemed a bit too difficult. Some of which include flying the drone, collecting the data, and stitching the everything thing together.
Now, there are agricultural drone package that makes handling the many facets of drone technology simple and seamless. Farmers are now benefiting from this a whole lot as it has helped in more farm produce and cash flow.
Just like in other fields, farming has greatly advanced. Now, farmers can work efficiently and even faster. This has also helped livestock and has thus, allowed for more healthy produce. In addition, the results are incredible as farmers produce more than they would manually. Although this technology has only existed for a mere 50 years, the growth is magical. One can only imagine the extent of technological advancement in farming in up and coming years. However, we can comfortably say that the results are magnificent as well as helpful.