Technology is creeping in all the time and sometimes we don't even notice it or think about it. Such as warnings on our bulk tank or maximising use of solar power all linked to the Internet. Weigh cells under our cake bins connected to our supplier so that they know when we will run out, the same with fuel. Lights that are timed to ensure maximum lux and daylight for our cows to optimise milk production. It is everywhere.
Low tech is a piece of string, high tech is a timed gate that releases automatically to let the milkers head for the parlour.
Low tech is letting the cows into a field of grass that looks about the right amount for the day, high tech is going out with the plate meter on a weekly basis and reporting the measurements onto the Agrinet programme in order to maximise grass production and be super efficient.
Everything can be done through an app these days, the trouble is you either need a bigger screen, good glasses or a teenager to get the best out of it.
Rural connectivity is still a challenge but the more it improves the better use of technical innovations occurs.
Tractors still have CB's for communication but WhatsApp works well for group information and ensures things get written down. The radios have all been upgraded to bluetooth so not only can you listen to the latest podcasts but you won't be done for using your phone while driving, still too often seen in the farming community. I don't know why a tractor driver thinks they are invisible sat up in their tractor!
Fertiliser spreading and spraying is no longer done by eye - the GPS is connected, the field records are uploaded and all the information is kept on the cloud. Drills and sprayers have section control to ensure accurate use and prevent overlap. Waste is reduced and any design or pattern can be drilled into a field.
What about checking calving cows at night, no problem, check the CCTV upload on your phone or PC or get an alarm from the tailhead sensor to tell you that things have started happening. Checking for bulling cows - low tech is walking around them, medium tech is scratch cards stuck on their rump with the aid of carpet glue, high tech is the use of activity meters. All have their place on the farm, all cost money but all can save you more than they cost, if used properly.
The white board and pen is still useful in the calf pens to let others know the treatments being used but WhatsApp is taking up the slack.
Everyone has different ideas of farm tech. Share your thoughts on what Agritech means to you at https://readingagriculture.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8BrvrGWnHrwZrUi
Thanks in advance!
Written by David Cotton of Bridge Farm in Somerset, an AHDB Dairy Strategic dairy farm.