Advanced technology provides new opportunities for farmers | news

TIPPECANOE COUNTY (WLFI) — Technology continues to advance, which is presenting new opportunities for farmers.

In honor of the new technology, Purdue University held Tech Tuesday. It was a day dedicated to showcasing new technology in the agricultural industry.

“So we wanted to a new theme day where we could really promote that technology. We have drones out here, sprayer drones and all kinds of different things out here and we have our equipment here,” Drew Kelham, the Co-Director of Events for Ag-Week. “So there’s a lot of really neat technology that’s in agriculture right now that we want to showcase.”

This was the 11th year for Ag-Week on campus. However, it was the first year event organizers decided to have Tech Tuesday.

“A lot of our technology that we use worldwide starts in the ag industry,” Kelham said. “Some things such as auto-steer, that technology has been around for a long time and a lot of people don’t understand that.”

Ag-Week serves as an opportunity to promote, educate and showcase different aspects of the agricultural industry.

“The college of Agriculture at Purdue is a very big aspect of Purdue’s campus, but I think being able to showcase the rest of the students what agriculture is all about,” said Kelham. “A lot of students don’t understand and a perfect example is Tech Tuesday where we show what kind of technology and equipment that we use on a day to day in agriculture.”

A few of the items on display during Ag-Week were drones. Kelham says drones have gained popularity in the agricultural industry over the years.

“Drones are really starting to play a role in ag, so a lot of that is from cameras scanning fields or even using them as sprayers because that’s a new thing now,” said Kelham. “Sprayer drones allow farmers to get into smaller areas and to really spray from their phone.”

Purdue Extension Coordinator for Digital Agriculture, John Scott, says technology provides benefits for farmers through logistics.

“The big thing in farming, and a lot of businesses across the world, is logistics,” said Scott. “It (technology) helps farmers in a big way with their time and the logistics and making sure they get things done in a timely fashion by getting the pieces and parts where they need to be.”

Scott says he’s seen a lot of farmers, and leaders in the agricultural industry, incorporate new technology.

“In my experience when I’ve worked with folks, the younger farmers tend to adapt to technology a little sooner,” said Scott. “Also the larger scale farmers tend to adopt to it a little sooner.”

Scott says he’s also seen drones continue to be used for various purposes.

“It’s still brand new, but we are seeing some transition into using drones to spray and in some cases spread seed,” said Scott. “Honestly, that cutting-edge right now in this area but the cost are finally starting to slowly come down and it’s starting to make some sense.”

When drones were first incorporated in the agricultural industry, Scott says the main purpose was for imaging.

This allowed the farmers to take pictures of their field to use for multiple purposes.

“You could take all of that data and put it up into yield data and soil type data,” said Scott. “Then if we look at it from one season to the next as we rotate crops we can really start building a big picture of what’s across these acres all season long with different crops and within different years.”

Over the years, drones have been used to scout fields by providing pictures and videos.

“They’re great scouting machines,” said Scott. “Even if you don’t map it, you can pop the drone up and go over the top of the field and just look and see what’s going on.”

However, sprayer drones are starting to gain popularity in the agricultural industry. Scott says there are specific situations where a sprayer drone would be handy.

“We can go in and spray that one spot in the field that needs to be got without having to take the ground rig out and you can save a lot of time and a lot of money potentially,” said Scott. regulations around it still to be worked out and a lot of unknowns around it still but I see that kind of being maybe where the technology is going in some capacity.”

In order for a farmer to continue incorporating new technology, Scott says they have to see the ROI (Return on Investment).

“So if I go out and buy this or I give you money to do this for me, how is it going to help my bottom line?” said Scott. “If they start seeing some ROI then the adoption is very rapid, because if they can pay bills with it then they’re going to intergrade it into the system.”

Scott believes the ag industry will continue to see advancements in technology through the years.

“In some cases we’re adapting to technology that other industries have created and we find new and novel ways to uses for them here in ag,” said Scott. “As far as adoption, folks in the agriculture industry tend to be more open to trying things out.”

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