Having received the soil, silage and dung sample results via email last week it got me thinking on technology in farming.
The uptake of agri-tech from a farmer’s perspective is usually on a need or want basis, with affordability and what actual benefit it will be, having the final say. In 2020, necessity saw many people adopt technology for the first time.
When it comes to the technology that I want, I’m conscious of the line dubiously attributed to Henry Ford.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
But I’ll fire off some of my thoughts regardless.
Affordable individual animal diagnostics would be near the top of the list. Heat and calving detection is readily available but with concerns growing over anthelmintic resistance, for example, how valuable would it be to have the level of worm or fluke burden of each animal?
The uptake of agri-tech from a farmer’s perspective is usually on a need or want basis, with affordability and what actual benefit it will be, having the final say
After discussing the faecal egg count (FEC) results with the vet, a decision was made to not dose the weanlings for worms this winter. The decision was based on three pooled samples from different groups that all had a low FEC. It’s a live-by-the-sword/die-by-the-sword experiment, but I have confidence in it because it’s not done on a whim and is the result of positive interaction with my vet. Blanket treatments are no longer standard practice and that is a major labour and cost-saver.
Soil diagnostic technology is already at an advanced stage and is filtering down to more farms and has shown its value. There’s a lot more scope in the use of DNA when it comes to animal breeding. However, as witnessed throughout the lifetime of the BDGP scheme there is resistance to its use.
It might sound farfetched, but imagine if there was a cellulose-based silage wrap or netting option that was edible. Pigs might fly on that one but sometimes you have to shoot for the stars.
On a positive note, development of biodegradable silage wrap or netting is progressing.
The diversity in your phone’s apps can be as random as the contents of a German discount supermarket
The evolution of the mobile phone has made it the most adapted and versatile bit of technology available to farmers. Smartphones are the Swiss Army knife of farming technology.
Flashlights, calving cameras, news apps, weather apps and dating apps (for humans and cows) are among the options at your fingertips. You can now even have the mart at home on your phone.
The diversity in your phone’s apps can be as random as the contents of a German discount supermarket.
The fly in the ointment is that you can only use it to its full potential if your broadband signal is up to scratch. If it isn’t, you can try ringing the network’s customer service, if you have phone reception. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to talk to someone. If you’re not, you’ll lose hours waiting, if you’re patient enough.
Social media and online sales platforms have opened a window into yards and farm practices like nothing before. There’s some fantastic farm ideas and practices on display but you also get to see the other end of the spectrum.