Crop production has changed immensely in the past century.
Farmers didn’t have the knowledge and technology to know that organic matter was declining due to lack of crop rotation.
Nor did they know that cultivating their lands up to four times over a growing season also caused a decline in the fertility and physical quality of the soils that the crops were being grown in.
Agronomist Ross McKenzie says that one of the biggest movements in history that technology brought us for crop production was zero till, also known as minimum till.
“From the early 1980s to the mid 1990s, there was a real shift from conventional tillage to minimum till and direct seed on dryland, by the mid 1990s, the vast majority of all our dryland was being direct seeded,” says McKenzie.
McKenzie adds that in the past couple of decades some of the other big movements were that more fertilizer was used by farmers to replace nutrients in the soil, they moved to continuous cropping, more diverse crop rotations, weed control, and the science of plant breeding.
Adrian Moens, owner of AJM Seeds, says that the newest movement in technology with crop production is the use of drones.
With camera lenses that can give you different crop stresses, variances within the crop, and even different soil types – drones give you the “birds eye view” in seconds, and really allows you to see your crop in a different perspective.
“I’ve used it in a number of places, a couple of times this fall, to locate different crop divisions,” says Moens. “Just to help out a customer, and stuff like that, twice over. That way we are able to see what was in one case, the different hybrids. In another case, it was a problem portion of the field.”
Moens adds that although still a fairly new technology, drones are getting more and more advanced every year, and are bringing a whole new perspective to agriculture.