Modern Agriculture

So how are Minnesota soybean farmers continuing to improve?

Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture allows farmers to use technology to create management systems based on site-specific data on soils, crops, nutrients, pests moisture or yield.

Precision agriculture allows farmers to be more accurate and controlled when it comes to growing crops and raising livestock. Instead of treating a field as one, this technology is site-specific, reducing the need for over application or misapplication of products.

Other examples of precision agriculture include the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and GPS-computer guided machinery. Using GPS technology results in more accurate and efficient use of resources.

Nearly 50 percent of U.S. farmers use precision technology for increased farm conservation.

Use of technology for healthier soils

Reduced tillage

Reduced tillage provides important benefits to the soil including reduced soil erosion, improved water infiltration, increased organic matter and improved overall soil health. In the U.S., 70 percent of soybean acres use reduced tillage, including no-till.

Tile drainage

Many Minnesota soybean farmers use tile drainage to help improve water quality and reduce soil erosion. Other advantages include more consistent yield, less plant stress, fewer plant diseases and less soil compaction. Another large benefit is the decrease of total surface runoff, protecting water quality.

Crop rotation

Eighty percent of soybean acres are used in crop rotation, improving soil health and reducing pest and weed issues. Many Minnesota farmers use a corn-soybean crop rotation.

Cover crops

A cover crop is a crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil. Today’s soybean farmers may use cover crops to reduce nutrient loss by taking up nutrients left over from the previous crop. The benefits are endless – including increased soil organic matter, reduced soil erosion and compaction, improved soil health and increased biological activity.

Today’s farming practices to protect water quality

Farmers today use a number of conservation methods to protect water quality. These conservation methods are used to slow water runoff and trap sediment and nutrients.

One example that farmers use are buffer strips. Buffer strips remove 50 percent of nutrients and pesticides and 75 percent of sediment. They also allow more time for infiltration within the buffer.

Buffers also serve as a food source, nesting cover and shelter for many wildlife specifies.

Other examples are terraces and grass waterways.

Minnesota soybean farmers also participate in statewide, voluntary water quality protection programs to take the lead in implementing conservation practices on their farms. These programs assist farmers with making the best decisions for their farm.

Digital technology tools

Technology is an important part of farming today. Farmers use interactive, online tools and services to continue improving their productivity and efficiency. Examples of this include:

UAV Imagery – Farmers are utilizing UAV imagery to monitor crop health the entire growing season, as well as gaining a better understanding of the hydrology of soil, nutrients within the soil, yield loss and gain, and soil temperature.

UAV technology is currently being developed to spot spray specific weeds and to identify certain crop diseases before they appear on the plant.

Data and Technology Services – Data and technology services map and apply crop nutrients precisely where needed and continually change based on soil type and location in the field. Technology platforms are utilized to overlap multiple field informational maps so farmers can make the best possible decisions on items like seed selection, crop nutrients, chemical application and more.

Biotechnology and GMOs

Scientists have been using plant breeding techniques to improve our crop production for thousands of years. In the 1980s, scientists began using biotechnology, or the method of transferring desired genes directly into a plant, to create plants with beneficial characteristics. These products are called genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Each new GMO undergoes years of testing to ensure it is as safe as the non-GMO counterpart. On average, it takes 13 years and costs $130 million to bring a GMO to market.

Why do farmers use GMOs?
Every region, field and environment is different, causing specific challenges and setbacks for farmers. GMOs allow farmers to address those challenges and choose the right seed, specific to their needs.

Top reasons farmers use biotechnology:

1. Limited resources (water-limited conditions – drought resistant)

2. Pest and weed management

3. Optimizing existing farmland (allows farmers to farm existing arable land and preserve nearby habitats)

Questions on GMOs? Visit https://gmoanswers.com/.