Ankeny, Iowa — Sidney, Iowa farmer Jeff Jorgenson spoke at the nation’s Capitol on Sept. 12 on the importance and necessity of precision-based technology in agriculture.
“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.”
Not funded by the soybean checkoff
The Iowa Soybean Association (www.iasoybeans.com) develops policies and programs that help Iowa’s more than 40,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 22 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaborations and partnerships.