GROWMARK Illinois 2020 Essay Contest Winner

Farmer of the Future
by Brooke Tompkins, Mulberry Grove FFA Chapter, Smithboro, Illinois

Agriculture is the world’s largest industry and is always evolving and changing. As the demand for agricultural products increase, farmers will have to continue being innovative. The FFA Creed begins with “I believe in the future of agriculture…” The farmer of the future must be adaptable; willing to embrace and utilize new technology available in order to be successful.

The two largest influences on food demand–population and income–will rise substantially over the next 30 years. The world population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050–an increase of 1.5 billion people from today’s 7.6 billion. Health-conscious populations of developed countries will increase the need for protein-rich crops and meat products, such as chicken, beef, and pork. The agricultural industry will need to expand production by 60% to satisfy the global consumers’ needs, while using the same farmland since most arable acreage is already in use.

With the many challenges facing today’s agricultural industry, it can be difficult to imagine what the future of farming may look like. However, countless hours of research have allowed scientific advancements to be made and have paved the way for many more in the future. To continue feeding the world, farmers across the nation will adopt new technology. With years of biotechnology research, a gene-editing program called CRISPR has been developed and is still being tested. When using CRISPR, unwanted genes in organisms are removed with natural enzymes. Not only does it resolve crops’ vulnerability to factors like drought and pests, but it is achieved naturally.

Sensors will be used in conjunction with gene-edited crops to provide specific, real-time data, like soil moisture content and pest proliferation. Monitoring systems’ utilization will allow farmers to make effective adjustments, therefore increasing yield. Plus, many equipment producers have introduced prototypes for autonomous farm equipment, which will reduce physical labor and save time. Moreover, robotic machines are typically smaller than the average farm equipment used currently, so the soil will not be compacted and overworked; therefore, they will conserve the longevity and health of the soil.

As farmers utilize technological advancements in years to come, one thing will remain constant–the strong relationship with their local cooperative, which also grows and changes along with farmers to continue their codependent partnership. On my fourth-generation family farm, we have kept a strong bond with our local FS Co-op for decades. Whether it’s applying pesticides or getting advice for the beef herd’s nutrition requirements, FS is always there.

Innovative agriculturists will adopt new technology and strategies to optimize yields, while displaying good stewardship for future generations. When their day begins, they will turn on equipment produced from countless hours of hard work and determination. They will monitor robotic machines working their fields and sensors that provide vital data to optimize production. Ultimately, the farmer of the future will adapt, as they always have. Through it all, farmers will continually work hand in hand with their local cooperatives to achieve their best levels of productivity.




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