Advancing agriculture

May’s edition of Farm Industry News featured it’s first A to Z index of technologies affecting agriculture since 2008. Much has changed since then in ag technology and I wanted to share a few advances that impress me most.

Autonomous tractors
Outfitted with sensors, cameras, radar, GPS and guidance equipment to navigate fields safely, these tractors run between the combine and unloading site without an operator. 

The picture below is of a cab-less Spirit tractor from Autonomous Tractor Corp.

Photo: Mike Krivit

Nutrient sensors
Precise nutrient application to farm fields has never been more important. Now, nitrogen fertilizer is being applied with a level of accuracy not seen before.

Sophisticated sensors are used to detect nutrient levels in crops by emitting light onto the crop canopy, measuring the amount of light reflected. This information is then used to determine the crop’s nitrogen needs.

Agriculture’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as drones, hit the news cycle earlier this year for the potential to become a low-cost precision ag scouting tool.

Beyond ag trade publications, even the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and MSN touted the benefits of drones programmed to follow designated flight paths, monitoring crops and spraying pesticides.

Commercial use of drones is currently prohibited in the U.S. unless they are participants in a university study, according to the WSJ.

Which advancements in agriculture have impressed you most lately?

Photos obtained from: Farm Industry News (hyperlink to:
Portland State University (hyperlink to:

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