Can you imagine being a farmer in the turn of the 20th century?
Even though the notion of literally working the dirt with your hands may seem romantic, I certainly am grateful for the technology we have today in raising food. The hours it must have taken just to do a fraction of what we can do now is hard to imagine.
On my family’s ranch, we use electronic identification for our livestock. We have a wand that scans the cattle’s ear tags and we can gain information about that cow right on the spot. Yes, we still brand our cattle like they’ve done for years (it’s also the state law), but this new form of identification allows for us to know more about each animal and keep better records. This in turn creates healthier cattle and healthier food.
With the farmers that I work with, they have even more technology that is just amazing if you think about where we’ve come in 100 years! Just take irrigation as an example.
Farmers used to have to manually dig canals and open up flood gates on a daily basis to water their crops. Today, they have spans of pivot irrigation systems that they can remote start from their cell phones and monitor water output per nozzle. This is just one example of innovation in agriculture.
Another innovation not unique to agriculture, but used today by most all farmers is the use of hydraulics and fluid technology. My first exposure to hydraulics was when I was a kid, sitting on the arm of the tractor seat with my dad as he moved the loader bucket up and down, and tilted it back and forth to push snow and level sand.
I once thought of that as simply the “schpttt” of air that I thought moved the bucket up and down. But soon learned that the noise was the hydraulic pump that forces fluid through the line to extend the cylinder. Then when you want to retract the cylinder, the hydraulic pump pulls the fluid back into the hydraulic tank that pulls the cylinder to a closed position. Simply, the force of fluid through the hoses forces movement of the equipment.
This form of technology is also used on our ranch with our “squeeze” cattle chutes. When an animal walks through the chute, there are a number of hydraulic levers to open and close the head gate, tighten the sides to the animal and close the end gate. The use of these chutes have made the art of working cattle safer for both the animals and those working with them.
I could go on about how hydraulics are used in agriculture: discs, planters, chisels, rippers, balers, combine headers, augers, bale beds, hay forks – almost every piece of farm equipment uses hydraulics.