How has technology been used to better enhance agriculture?

Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Technology has improved medicine and healthcare significantly in the past 50 years. The field of agriculture has also been greatly affected by the vast developments in technology. Here are just a few of the ways technology has changed farming. 

Livestock and genetic breeding is not a new practice. Animals have been domesticated for more than 10,000 years. Farmers would select specific livestock for their favorable adaptation to climates and then breed them to improve productivity, temperament, and meat, leather, and wool quality. The practice is definitely not novel and the technology used in these practices has changed over the years. While this practice raises some ethical concerns, it is particularly effective. Many animal geneticists study this practice closely and they identify variables within the genes of animals that can be manipulated to enhance animal growth, health, and ability to utilize nutrients. These advances can increase production while reducing environmental impacts.

Similar to livestock breeding, crop genetics and pest management involve the idea of manipulating genes. Food scientists, as well as farmers, use plant selection and various breeding techniques to improve crop yield. They work to improve germplasm which in turn develops the best seeds. These seeds have the best characteristics and deliver the best yield for specific soil and weather conditions. Modern-day plant breeders use modern and traditional methods in this practice. Modern methods utilize marker-assisted breeding. This helps seeds grow faster and into healthier plants. Genetic engineering technology can also improve plants insect resistance.

Livestock is raised in climate-controlled barns. This is to protect livestock from predators, terrible weather conditions, and various diseases. When livestock are raised inside barns, it enables farmers to use utilize technology. These barns are equipped with Wi-Fi, automated feed, and climate control settings. Farmers can monitor their animals from almost anywhere. Specialization is a big part of modern-day farms. Farms are more specialized at this point in time than they have ever been. Some farmers only raise one type of livestock. Some farms are so specialized that they only focus on one growth stage. For example, there are many pig farms in the United States that specialize only in farrowing or fishing. Beef cattle farmers generally have cow-calf herds and focus on breeding, calving, and weaning.

Finally, the most important technological advancement that differentiates contemporary farms from 19th-century farms is improved farm equipment. Farm equipment has had the most significant impact on how farmers raised livestock and care for them.

-Sanaa Dalvi

Author at STEMTalksNC

Sources:

Iowaagliteracy, /. “5 Ways Technology Has Changed Farming.” Iowa Agriculture Literacy, 3 June 2018, iowaagliteracy.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/5-ways-technology-has-changed-farming/.

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