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:

Celebrate National Dairy Month

June is National Dairy Month – a whole month dedicated to celebrating the dairy industry.

According to the International Diary Foods Association, National Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. It was initially created to stabilize the dairy demand when production was at a surplus, but has now transitioned into an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions that the dairy industry has made to the world.

In Ohio, we know a little something about dairy.

Ohio has nearly 3,100 dairy farms located throughout the state and is home to 268,000 dairy cows. In 2011, Ohio’s dairy cows produced more than 605 million gallons of milk, meaning that the average farm produced enough milk to provide dairy products to more than 2,500 people each year.

The American Dairy Association also credits Ohio’s dairy industry as an essential part of our state’s success, acknowledging that: 

  • Ohio ranks first in the nation in Swiss cheese production, fifth in the number of manufacturing plants, 10th in overall cheese production and 11th in overall milk production. 
  • The estimated economic impact of Ohio’s dairy industry is $4.2 billion with a total of 14,350 jobs created for Ohioans.
With nearly 51,000 dairy farms nationwide, 97 percent are family owned. These dairy farmers work incredibly hard to provide safe, wholesome and nutrient-rich milk to the public, while caring for their animals and land. It’s more than fitting that they deserve our thanks. 

Before June ends, be sure to celebrate National Dairy Month and thank a dairy farmer if you know one. It’s also a great time for you to enjoy an extra scoop of ice cream guilt-free! 

Photo obtained from: