In this video adapted from Pathways to Technology, learn why, to be a successful farmer today, you need the latest computer technology. Community college student Adam Sheppard’s family has been farming the same land for seven generations. The geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) technology he is studying in school can help farmers know how much seed to buy, where to plant, and how much compost or fertilizer to use. Adam's internship at a co-op farm allows him to apply what he's learned in the classroom. When finished with school, he plans to bring his knowledge back home to his family's farm.
This media asset is adapted from Pathways to Technology: "Precision Agriculture Student Profile: Adam Sheppard."
When a family has been farming the same land for seven generations, they know exactly what to do to raise the best crops. By studying agricultural technology, seventh-generation farmer Adam Sheppard is learning to use new tools that'll help the farm be even more successful.
In his community college classes, Adam is learning how to use GPS/GIS mapping for precision farming. Geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) provide detailed information about land and water, creating layered maps of ground soil and water systems. Farmers use this information to analyze water and soil, and to decide which crops will grow best on their land. They can also assess water purity and contamination levels, enhance nutritional impact, and determine pest control. The result: precision farming that boosts food production, builds alternative crop and livestock systems, manages pollutant runoff, and strengthens natural resources.
By using GPS/GIS technology for precision farming, Adam can see information about each crop at a glance: what the crop is, how many acres it’s planted on, the average yield of that crop, and the health of the final product.
“Some of the benefits of GPS are using less product and preventing waste and runoff,” says Adam. (Runoff is when manure, chemical fertilizer, and/or pesticides put on crops are washed away by rain, and enter the water system.) “Before, you just went out to the field and put the same amount of fertilizer or pesticide everywhere; now with GPS you can find spots that need it the most and put more fertilizer there.” The ability of GPS to track moisture levels and crop density helps farmers understand where they need to use more water, fertilizer, or pesticide.
“Technology is a must in farming,” Adam says. “There’s no way we could live without it. It helps us increase our operation and livestock, and build up equity. That’s what we have to do to survive.”
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