Local News

NC Farmers Get a Peek Into the Future of Farming

Posted September 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The world agriculture market is a competitive one, so American farmers are always looking for ways to be the best. Global positioning satellite technology is helping farmers do a better job of growing crops and protecting the environment.

At a field day recently in eastern North Carolina farmers got a look at some of the equipment that will help keep them on top of the world. What looks like a regular combine now sports a yellow antenna on top -- a clue to something new and different inside the cab. From an air conditioned seat inside a state-of-the-art combine a farmer can, by means of satellite technology, calculate their yield and the moisture content of their land as a crop is being harvested. They can know exactly where they are in the field through a system known as GPS, or Global Positioning Systems.

David Taliaferro has two years experience with this technology on his Virginia farm. He says it helps him troubleshoot with his production.

Also on display were All Terrain Vehicles, or ATV's, which have been converted for use on the farm to communicate with satellites. Farmers can create visual maps of their fields and add to them information about the soil at any given spot. Topsoil specialist Milton Vaughn says the technology enables farmers to stay on top of creating perfect conditions.

With other new technology, fertilizer can be blended as needed while it is being applied with soil information available in the onboard computer. Satellites show where to apply the right amount of nutrients. Vaughn says improved care of the environment is also a major side effect of the new technology. There is less chance, he says, of putting too much nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium into the ground. That means less danger to ground water and streams.

Reporter:Dan Wilkinson