Farm Progress

With Technology, Believe In The Impossible

Greg Lamp

March 1, 2011

2 Min Read


After recently attending a couple of big ag events I have a newfound respect for how difficult it is to stay on top of changing ag technology. It’s especially challenging to even know what some of the new technology acronyms stand for, like CORS, GLONASS, CDMA, SBAS, DGPS, WAAS… They almost sound like old Russian spy terms that only James Bond could decipher.

But if you want to be successful and take advantage of what all the emerging technology has to offer, bone up. It’s likely to only get more complicated.

If global futurist Jack Uldrich is right, expect to see more progress in the next 25 years than in the last 100 years. “We’ve got to get used to the idea that we’ll see 1,000-fold increases, not 10-fold,” says the Minnesota-based speaker and author of “Jump The Curve.”

He says we’re seeing huge changes already. Google now has 25 billion searches a day. Data storage is doubling every six months. And the number of robots being employed is doubling every year. “Google is developing self-driving robotic cars and has already used them in California on 140,000 miles of driving,” he says.

In addition, computers that calculate to trillions will soon calculate to quadrillions, accelerating technology even more.

If you caught an episode of Jeopardy last month, they brought back two of the highest-scoring contestants and pitted them against a computer called Watson. You guessed it, Watson won.

The upshot of Uldrich’s prognostications is that we all need to be more aware of changes around us and be able to “unlearn” what we think we know.

RFID, or radio frequency identification, is an emerging technology that’s just finding its legs. Small RFID sensors called smart dust can be used to detect crop stressors like disease and water use, and all at a minimal cost, he says.

The result? “If we can grow crops on dryland, it will open the potential for new farmland around the world,” Uldrich says. “RFID could even be on products at a grocery store that would then tell consumers whether you grew that crop sustainably or with fewer inputs or less water.”

The future is all about “better, faster and cheaper,” the futurist says. “So believe in the impossible. We already have extraordinary technology tools available that impact our businesses. Now we have to keep open minds and be more aware of changes around us.” 

Guess I’d better be more vigilant when it comes to technology or risk having a robot edge me out as the new editor of this magazine. 

About the Author(s)

Greg Lamp

Greg grew up on a diversified crop and cattle operation in South Dakota, and has 22 years of experience covering the farming and livestock business. A graduate of South Dakota State University, he served as managing editor of BEEF magazine for five years, previously working for Farm Journal, Successful Farming and Feedlot Management magazines, as well as having served as an account executive with the Colle&McVoy advertising agency. Greg is the recipient of numerous writing and photography honors.

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