Agricultural technology is rapidly growing and improving as farmers across the nation look for ways to increase profits. Keeping up with all the advances can be time consuming and costly, but many farmers who use the technology believe it's well worth the investment.
Representatives from three Trigg County farms discussed the benefits of different agricultural technologies in their operations during the recent county farm tour organized by the Trigg County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
"If you can use a computer, you can relate to this, and actually, the younger generation is picking it up really fast," said Michael Oliver, of Seven Springs Farm in Wallonia.
Seven Springs uses precision agriculture technology, such as swath control, mapping systems, auto steer and global positioning systems, to improve the efficiency of their equipment in the field. The farm has won the National Corn Growers Yield Contest five times.
While it is a costly initial investment, Oliver said the technology used at Seven Springs has more than paid for itself since they upgraded three years ago.
David Fourqurean, Trigg County agriculture and natural resources agent, said many county farms like Seven Springs could see cost savings from precision agriculture. In Trigg County, many soil types are present; some of which are not naturally suited for growing row crops.
"If the planter cuts off at the end rows when it's supposed to, instead of planting all the way through, you can see cost savings," he said. "If the sprayer cuts off in an area that's already been sprayed, it's a chemical savings. It's just a large amount of savings."
At Cundiff Farms in Wallonia, owner Ben Cundiff talked about the benefits of owning compared to renting land, improved seed genetics and international grain markets. Jason Sarver, UK soybean field agronomist, and Chad Lee, UK grain crops Extension specialist, talked about current soybean research at Cundiff Farms and other west Kentucky farms.
While it may not seem like many technology advances have occurred as rapidly in tobacco production as in other areas of agriculture, Mike Hyde and Bob Lawrence, owners of L & H Farms in Cadiz, have been using innovative techniques to improve their productivity. They worked to centralize their operation to cut down on labor and transportation costs. The pair grows mainly dark-air and dark-fire cured tobacco, but has some burley. None of their fields are more than two miles in distance from a barn. Some of their dark-fire tobacco is double-crop cured, which requires fewer barns. Double-cropping may require more time management, but Lawrence said it's been beneficial to their operation.
"We're probably seeing better yields on the second crop of our double-cropped tobacco," Lawrence said.