Published On: Tue, Jan 5th, 2016

Should Farmers Rely More On Technology To Remain Sustainable?

It seems that the days of traditional farming methods are almost over. Today, the agricultural industry has learnt to adapt to changing market conditions. Farmers, in particular, have had to make plenty of changes to run sustainable businesses. They’ve done so using a variety of different methods.

Farmer and tractor

One interesting trend about many farmers is their reliance on technology. Let’s face it; every single one of us relies on technology to help us be more productive in our lives. The thing is, not all farmers use technology to help them remain sustainable.

Nowadays it’s not a question of whether they should embrace technology but how. There is a strong case for technological reliance in the farming industry. Here are five examples of what today’s tech-savvy farmers use:

  1. State of the art machines

Farmers use all kinds of machines and equipment. Tractors and Combine Harvesters are just a couple of examples of what you’ll likely find on a farm. But, did you know that some farmers don’t use the latest models on offer?

As you can imagine, it’s often down to cost. What those farmers don’t realise is their total cost of ownership will be low. Newer models allow farmers to do more in less time. That means they can achieve higher yields and generate bigger profits. It also means fewer business overheads, such as human resources.

Some farmers are more entrepreneurial than others. The sad truth is that not all farmers have the right business acumen. They will seldom see past the initial cost of new machines and look at the bigger picture, so to speak.

As a farmer, it’s important to adopt the latest technology to remain sustainable. Using equipment that is older than you are just doesn’t cut it in today’s modern world! State of the art farming machines and equipment allow farmers to be more efficient at what they do. Productivity is also a crucial factor in running a successful farm.

  1. Drones

Airborne devices that are remote controlled are popular in many industries. Even companies like Amazon are looking to deliver goods using drones! You might not think it, but they are becoming an increasingly popular tech choice for farmers.

When you manage a farm that spans several acres, it can be time-consuming to manage them all in person. Sure, one could hire an army of workers to handle that. But, it works out cheaper and easier to just take to the skies!

There are plenty of devices on the market, and some can even get used with tablets like the Apple iPad. It’s possible to get drones and fit more than one camera to them. Some models even offer a live video feed.

  1. GPS tracking

Another brilliant way to use technology on a farm is with GPS tracking. Many people use GPS to track expensive sports cars, for example. What some folks don’t know is that some farmers use GPS technology to track the location of herds!

There are many ways to “GPS enable” animals on a farm. As you can imagine, it gives farmers an insight into where their livestock is on the farm. And it’s a necessary security option to help deal with the threat of cattle theft.

  1. Soil testing

All farmers know that they need good quality soil. After all; it’s needed for growing fruit and vegetables. And when animals graze on the land, good soil is crucial for keeping healthy livestock.

Today’s tech-savvy farmers get their soil tested on a regular basis. It’s a fundamental way to keep a farm healthy. Farmers need to know if there are any soil issues. Otherwise, they run the risk of problems going unnoticed.

For example, how would a farmer know if a nearby chemical spill has affected their soil? They can’t always rely on their eyes or nose to help them detect problems. Laboratory testing for soil is becoming commonplace in the farming industry.

  1. Robotics

Robots might sound futuristic, but they are becoming a familiar sight on many a modern farm these days. Dairy farms, for example, use robotics in their milk parlors.

They enable cows to decide when they wish to get milked and how often. The result? Happier cows and better quality milk. Farm robotics is also useful in other areas too. For example, they get used to automate certain tasks such as sorting or cleaning produce.

Is technology worth the added expense?

One thing many farmers will tell you is that their operating costs seem to increase each year. To run a “leaner” operation, farmers have to give thought to how technology can help. There are many tasks on a farm that traditionally get performed by hand.

It makes sense to spare the HR overheads and instead invest in technology. I’ve mentioned a few examples above, but there are plenty more used in the farming industry.

So, is technology a good investment for today’s farms? In a word, yes. Sure, there is the initial expense to bear. The good news is there are plenty of finance options available so that one doesn’t have to pay out a lot of money. Quite often, machines and other equipment can get leased rather than bought.

That means a lower investment from a farmer’s point of view. And it also means greater profit potential.

How today’s farmers adopt technology without breaking the bank

Cost is without a doubt a huge issue for farmers when it comes to getting new equipment. It’s actually quite easy to embrace technology without going broke, believe it or not!

For a start, many industry retailers offer flexible payment terms. It’s possible to spread the cost of new equipment over an extended period. That way, each machine’s operating costs are low, and cash flow gets kept healthy.

Another option for farmers is to lease new technology instead of buying it outright. It can also give farmers the chance to “upgrade” every few years without a big financial penalty. And depreciation isn’t an issue when leasing farm equipment.