Iowa farmer touts benefits of ag technology09/13/2019 | Crop Production Research, Soil Health, Water Quality, Economics, Weed Issues
By Aaron Putze, APR, ISA communications director
Precision-based technology used for growing food was once deemed a luxury and at work on just a handful of farms. But its proven ability to enhance on-farm agronomics and conservation practices have quickly made it a necessity, said a southwest Iowa farmer speaking Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C.
Jeff Jorgenson of Sidney, a self-described “first adopter” of precision and global-position-system (GPS) technologies, says the tools have been a game-changer for many industries like farming.
“Twenty years from now, the most important tool for putting food on your table won’t be a tractor, planter or even a combine,” he predicted during a briefing for Senate GPS Caucus members. “It will be a satellite and a piece of software.”
Hosted by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, the briefing offered a platform for sharing practical, real-world insights into the role of precision agriculture in feeding the world.
Flanked by peers in manufacturing and animal agriculture, Jorgenson said precision ag was born in the early 1990s with the introduction of GPS guidance for tractors. It’s evolved ever since to include variable-rate technology, GPS-based soil sampling, drones and software.
“Today, drones and satellites are giving farmers an unprecedented overview of crop health while ground-level sensors provide real-time data on soil and climate,” he said. “On the farm, more information – more accurate information – leads to better decisions, which help us grow more from less. GPS and precision technologies deliver that critical information in real-time.”
The need for such sophisticated tools and technology are growing given today’s unpredictable weather and market volatility.
Jorgenson knows this all too well. As president-elect of the Iowa Soybean Association, the southwest Iowa farmer raises soybeans, corn and cattle with his family adjacent the Missouri River. Persistent flooding creates additional challenges for farmers needing to be productive and profitable.
“It takes the right tools to get the job done – and done right,” he said. “Farming is highly land and labor-intensive. Farmers, like myself, are driven to use precision tools to increase efficiency, boost production, and to not only manage costs, but also nutrients.”
Precision technology helps push far below the soil surface, allowing farmers like Jorgenson to leave the soil in better shape than he found it.
“My livelihood depends on it,” he said.
The future of precision ag is trending toward cloud-based information sharing, Jorgenson said. That means farmers can work together to identify growing-condition patterns in their area and solve community-wide farming challenges more effectively.
“This underscores the importance of GPS and other precision technologies for the future of agriculture and feeding a growing population,” he added.
“GPS and precision technologies are the key to growing better, high-yielding crops, all while taking better care of the land,” Jorgenson said. “Technology on the farm isn’t just an advantage anymore, it’s a necessity.”
Contact Aaron Putze at email@example.com.
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