Technology in Farming

This is going to become a larger topic for me as time goes on, but I thought I’d briefly speak on what things are changing on the family farm in regards to adding little bits of technology and software to areas of the operation we have not done in the past.

My family’s current farming operation is decidedly “old fashioned” compared to the large farms around the country. There is no GPS guiding the machinery down the field, no scales telling you how much you have on the wagon currently, no sensors and displays telling you how much crop is coming through the combine or seed is going into the ground … it is operating, for the most part, the same way it was when I was born 25 years ago.

This year I was able to help out some more with harvest in two ways:

  1. increase electronic record keeping
  2. helping take the crop out of the field

You should ask my younger brother how often I helped with the latter growing up (not much), but the first one is my idea. Instead of having to try and keep track of all of the paper sheets the local cooperative gives us when we sell our crop, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of them for us along with some metrics throughout the season (average test weight, average moisture content, total bushels, total gross income, etc.). The idea is to streamline tax time by having all of our records ready ahead of time.

They keep track of most expenses for the farm in Quicken, but the idea is to begin to move to more granular electronic records there as well. I will have more on that in the future.

The second part, helping take the crop out, had me driving this setup:

Brother's 4430 pulling J&M grain cart

To say I had fun would be an extreme understatement. The big change for me was the use of our cell phones to keep in constant contact while working. My brother drove the semi, taking loads to the cooperatives while my dad was in the combine taking out the corn. I was on my cell phone keeping in contact with both to know when I could dump what was in the grain cart and when I needed to come out and pick up what was in the hopper on the combine.

It was invaluable.

Technology changed the entire game this year because we never had to stop working in order to stay in contact. We could call each other up if we had questions or needed to know something.

These are just little, tiny things that are helping to improve the efficiency of my family’s small operation in Minnesota. I hope to find more ways to help out in the future.

2 Replies to “Technology in Farming”

  1. That’s awesome to see how just a little bit of technology created a better and probably more profitable situation for your family farm. I’m sure that your new spreadsheet will be extremely helpful come tax time and even made the daily or harvest accounting amazingly more efficient.

    1. I hope so.

      I think I’m moving my spreadsheet over to a database because the interaction between weigh tickets and settlements is more complex than I would want to keep in a simple spreadsheet. We will see how it goes.

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