The Modern-Day Tech That Keeps Farms Working

Image from Wikimedia Commons

In the Digital Age, most businesses use technology to help in their day-to-day tasks. Whether it’s automated processes or simple time-savers, businesses everywhere have vast computing power. And, farms are no different. Modern farms use a host of different technologies to keep themselves running. In extremes, tech is used to keep operations going for 24 hours a day. Or, in less severe cases, it may just be to save a little bit of effort. This post will take you through some of the ways that modern farms will operate with technology.

Renewable Energy

In our modern world, there is growing pressure on everyone to start making their lives as sustainable as possible. A big part of this is finding ways to renew our resources, instead of simple spending them. Power is a key example of something that humans need to work together to improve. Renewable energy is power that is generated from a natural resource that won’t run out. Wind power is a great example. The wind is created by many different aspects, very few of which can actually be affected by human activity. This means that as far as we’re concerned, there will always be the wind. And, anything that can make something move can generate energy. The big, modern-looking windmills that you see are actually generating wind-power.

Farms can take advantage of these resources, simply because they usually have more space than other types of businesses. This space can be filled with wind turbines, solar panels, and even hydro-turbines. A lot of farms were established near running rivers, to provide easy access to water. With gravity powering the water, a farm can take some of the power for themselves. Farms will usually use a large amount of power, because of their size. So, being able to source it sustainably is important.

A lot of farms have started looking for new ways to solve their power-problems, as well. A good example of this is bio-fuel. Bio-fuel is created using animal waste. The waste is concentrated, with the chemicals required to power a vehicle being extracted. This fuel can power a vehicle that’s designed for it, much like regular fuel. Not only will this make a farm more responsible, but it will also lower their running costs.

GPS (Satellite Navigation)

Everyone knows what Sat Nav and GPS are. But, how do they work? There are dozens of satellites in orbit of earth, all dedicated to sending and receiving details regarding location. A GPS unit on the ground will broadcast data in the form of radio waves up into space. The first satellite to receive the signal will send data back, with the GPS unit’s location included. This enables us to find our exact location, without having to use a map or compass.

Farms will use GPS to make life much easier and to allow for work to continue into the night. When you see tractors sowing seeds or plowing fields, the driver isn’t usually doing much. They are guided by a Sat Nav, which will tell them exactly which route to take. This means that they driver doesn’t even need to keep their eyes on the field, they can just look at a screen and follow the line. This, of course, means that it doesn’t matter if it’s too dark to see the field that the farmer is working in. It also doesn’t rely on the operator being free from fatigue because the job is made so simple.

On larger farms, GPS will be used to track livestock. Some farms are thousands of acres in size, which can equate to the size of a city or town. With livestock being able to roam free, it’s hard to find them when they need to be sold or checked. So, farms will track a few members of the hard, to make sure that they can always find them. As cows will almost always herd together, only a handful of them need the trackers. The others are likely to be close by when you find one cow, no matter how many animals there are.

Extreme Herding

Throughout the year, farmers need to bring their livestock in to perform certain checks. They may need a vet visit, or they may want to check for pregnant animals. Unfortunately, these events are unavoidable, unless the farm wants to take large risks. This means that all of the animals on the farm need to be gathered up. But, for large farms, this can be a challenge. For farms in Australia, which can be more than one thousand square miles, some technology is required.

Instead of using man power to move their livestock, Australian farms will often use helicopters. Helicopters are flying vehicles, which can be maneuvered through most tight spots. They can also hover in one position, and change direction at the drop of a hat. This makes them absolutely perfect for farms to move large amounts of animals at the same time. They don’t risk hurting the livestock because they’re in the air. But, they can also hassle them enough to move them.

This sort of practice is very dangerous, claiming the lives of several pilots each year. It involves flying as a team of three or more vehicles, through trees and very close to the ground. The pilots that perform this task, though, are very experiences. Some pilots can even move livestock by physically pushing them with the helicopter. It takes guts, but it’s the only way to move tens of thousands of cows!

Image from Geograph

Image from Geograph

Stock Checking

Livestock only counts for small portion of farm work. A lot of modern farms rely more on their plant’s produce than that of their livestock. Of course, this presents certain problems. When you have hundreds of tons of a plant, it’s very difficult to measure the actual amount. It would take far too long to separate manageable chunks to be weighed or counted.

To solve this problem, most farms will rely on a simple solution; bigger scales for weighing. Once you know the weight of the vehicle and container, you can simply weigh the whole thing. This is done on a large set of scales, called farm truck scales; that use hydraulic gauges to measure the amount of force being applied by the load. To make life easier, some of these scales will allow a farmer to dump their load, weighing it and sending it to the right part of the farm.

Knowing how much stock they hold is important to a farm. It gives them a way to predict their earnings so that they can make an effort to improve them if they need to. It also gives farms a chance to monitor their yield. If a crop does well one year, and then fails in future, something must be different. A lot of the time, it’s natural conditions that affect this. But, farmers can often still come up with a way to make the situation better, for the next year.

Software Planning

The Internet is, of course, the best source of information that anyone has access to. With the information it holds, most work can be made easier. And, the same can apply to farms. Most farms will use computers to plan their entire year. They can check long range weather forecasts, to make informed decisions about the food they grow. Or, they can find the best seeds to grow where they are. The options are nearly endless.

Farms will collaborate with each other, with the help of the Internet. It can be used to find information about the newest methods that other farmers have found to be successful. They will also share advice for farms getting into new crops, to help them make a good start. Because farming isn’t a competitive market, it means that farms can afford to help each other, without hurting their own business.

Most farms occupy a large area of land. So, planning what needs to be done to the land is very important. Using a satellite view of the farm, most farms will plan each field out and set deadlines. They will be able to see the stage that each area is in, and exactly what still needs to be done to it. As farming is so reliant on timing, it’s important for farmers to know exactly what still needs to be done to throughout the year.

The technology that a farm uses is heavily based on what they have to do. Some farms will use very little tech, as they simply don’t need it. But, the larger a farm gets, the harder it gets to manage without any help. Technology can handle tasks that would otherwise have to be dealt with by a human. And, in the long run, tech is usually cheaper than staff. It’s also much more reliable than staff. So, it makes sense to use it instead.

Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what farms use to get through the year. If you want to find out about technology related to your own farm, you will have to do some research. Before employing any new technique, make sure that the old one can’t be fixed more easily.