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NC Farmers Get a Peek Into the Future of Farming

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The antenna atop a combine indicates satellite technology inside.
RALEIGH — The world agriculture market is a competitiveone, so American farmers are always looking for ways to be the best.Global positioning satellite technology is helping farmers do a better jobof growing crops and protecting the environment.

At a field day recently in eastern North Carolina farmers got a lookat 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 -- aclue to something new and different inside the cab. From an airconditioned seat inside a state-of-the-art combine a farmer can, by meansof satellite technology, calculate their yield and the moisture content oftheir land as a crop is being harvested. They can know exactly where theyare in the field through a system known as GPS, or Global PositioningSystems.

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

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

With other new technology, fertilizer can be blended as needed while itis 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 thenew technology. There is less chance, he says, of putting too muchnitrogen, phosphorus or potassium into the ground. That means less dangerto ground water and streams.

Reporter:Dan Wilkinson

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