Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lee Pitts: Can new farm technologies help farmers and ranchers?

Computers and the Internet have turned many businesses upside down and in many cases, eliminated them entirely. In this technological movement for improvement farmers seem to be ahead of ranchers. Go to any farm show these days and you’d think you were at a big computer convention in Las Vegas. 

Farmers use everything from mechanical pickers and thinners to soil probes that tell them where to deliver a few drops of water. Half million dollar combines crawl all over fields that before were only good for skiing on. When I first heard of Autosteer® I thought it was some kind of castrated robot, only later to learn that it was technology that allowed tractors to drive themselves.

Oh sure, ranchers got excited about cattle implants that could be barcoded and read with a scanner until it was discovered that consumers could end up with a cow chip on their plate. Not that kind of chip. I’m talking about a computer chip. Personally, I got real excited about the possibility of using drones to find where cattle were hiding until the FAA got involved and started making all sorts of rules and regulations concerning their use. I’m sure some day you’ll have to have a commercial pilot’s license to operate a $50 drone.

So far the cow/calf business hasn’t exactly been swamped with new products utilizing cutting edge computer technology but that could be about to change. Unfortunately it’s the same old story. I have both good news and bad news for cowboys. First, the good news.


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