B- FIELDS OF TECHNOLOGY
Subject, itemizing the major breakthroughs as well as the future trends of the related technology, will explore some different fields that experienced technological advancement. These fields did not flourish alone, as many technology fields helped in the advancement of other technology fields, contributing to the global technology development.
Sustainable agriculture can be defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, target the following goals:
To Satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends; make the most use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources, and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and ranchers, and society as a whole.
Sustainable Agriculture is a way of farming that can be carried out for generations to come. This long-term approach to agriculture combines efficient production with the wise stewardship of the earth's resources.
B-1-a- EQUIPMENT USED IN AGRICULTURE
Equipment such as ploughs, hoes, and sickles have aided the development of agriculture. Modern equipment such as tractors combines, crop planters, and irrigation systems have also helped in the growing agricultural needs.
In the middle of the 18th century, advances in technology began to make a great difference to agriculture.
One of the first areas of improvement was the plough design. Although ancient Egyptians invented the plough with an iron coulter, the plough was improved several times in the middle of the 18th century.
In 1771 James Arbuthnot introduced the use of a mould-board which was much more efficient.
James Anderson (1739-1808) invented the Scotch plough for use on heavy ground, and James Smith (1789-1850) invented the subsoil plough for use on land with poor drainage.
One of the best inventions to help agriculture was the self-sharpening plough, created by Robert Ransome (1753-1830). This plough was designed to dismantle, therefore making it easy for small farmers to have fewer pieces of equipment.
Until 1837 however, most farm production was limited by the plodding speed of the oxen. Planting, cultivation, harvesting, and threshing were mainly hand operations that made production slow and tedious.
Two men and eight oxen could do a full day's work, only covering less that one acre. Between dawn and dusk, one man could only cover ten acres of seeding small grain by hand.
Before the metal plow was introduced to farming, farmers used wooden plows that would often break and require much maintenance. Farmers believed that the steel would poison the soil. In 1837 John Deere demonstrated the first steel plough on a farm near Grand Detour. His plow was making of a broken saw blade that was curved. Later Deere ordered his first shipment of special rolled steel from England to go into production of steel plows.
Many types of agricultural equipment have been invented to aid in the growing agricultural needs of the world. If it weren't for these different types of equipment, farming would be much slower and tiresome. Jethro Tull invented the seed drill in 1701, and the horse shoe a few years afterwards. The effect of these two inventions helped tremendously in the cultivation of grain and other types of seeds.
James Meikle (1690-1717) produced a winnowing machine around 1720, and his son Andrew Meikle, besides inventing the fantail which allowed windmills to turn into the wind automatically and thus to work more efficiently, also invented the first effective threshing drum. His design, which used a revolving drum and longitudinal beater bars, is essentially the same as that used in mocombine harvesters.
Steam power was coming into use on the farm around 1720, following the inventions of James Watt.
John Wilkinson introduced steam threshing in the 1798, and soon after, the use of steam power rapidly spread.
Steam plugging came into use during the 1850s in places where the fields were long and flat enough to make it economic, and continued until steam power was superseded by the diesel engine and by the tractors produced by such manufactures as Harry George Ferguson and Henry Ford.
Natural horsepower was still an important factor in farming, however other inventions improved productivity.
James Smith's experimental reaper of 1811 did not work because the speed of the horses affected the action of the gathering drum, but Patrick Bell designed an effective reaper in 1827. When sent to America, this machine enabled the production of the first commercially successful reaping machines by Obed Hussey (1833) and Cyrus Hall McCormick (1834).
Mechanical reapers caught on very quickly thereafter, and by 1870, a quarter of all the harvest in Britain was being done mechanically.
In the 20th century, the development of diesel and electric power, and machinery in general, came together with the production of ever more complex and efficient pieces of equipment, such as the combine harvester and the electric milking machine. As in other areas, however, these were the products of research teams and commercial companies rather than individual pioneers.
Many changes have been made over the years of agriculture. Tractors today have far replaced the plough and horse. The automatic, air-conditioned cab, and radio/CD's, that are found in the tractors of today, are far superior to the kerosene powered, two cylinder, cabless, Waterloo Boy tractors with top speed of three miles per hour.
Day tractors have up to 24 pistons, 425 horsepower engines.
B-1-b- NEW TECHNOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF AGRICULTURE
New technology in all areas has improved agricultural production, thus its sustainability. Today's Agriculture is using best management practices (BMP's), by targeting many of its applications, and not broadcasting as was done in the past.
New disease resistant hybrids, biological pest control, reduced pesticide use; cultural practices that reduce the incidence of pests and diseases, better placement and reduced amounts of fertilizers are all being employed.
Insect specific chemicals and biological insect controls are now being utilized, instead of broad-spectrum pesticides, the thing that actually reduces the number of sprays needed along with costs. Micro-sprinkler water is now being applied directly to the roots, not overhead or flooding of the entire block as was done in the past.
Agriculture manages land today for both farming and wildlife. In many SW Florida citrus groves, water retention areas and woodland corridors allow animals and birds to flourish.
In citrus, technology has helped growers in many areas to reduce costs and improve production. Growers use disease resistant varieties where possible. Research and biotechnology have given growers new plant varieties that produce more and require fewer treatments.
IPM or integrated pest management is being utilized in production programs and have greatly reduced the applications of pesticides and the costs associated with sprays.
Fertilizers are often placed directly to the root zone using under-tree booms and/or through irrigation systems with computer control.
Herbicides are used under the tree to control weeds that compete for water and fertilizer. Irrigation is only applied when the root zone moisture is depleted to a critical level.
Much of the drainage water is retained onsite, thus recharging the aquifer. The water that does go off-site is cleaned through retention reservoirs.
Precision Agriculture is now coming to citrus production. Research scientists are developing an expert system called DISC, Decision Information Systems for Citrus. It is a computer tool where disease models loaded on a CD-ROM will interact with localized weather data from the Internet and grower inputs to help predict if and when disease conditions will be great enough to warrant a spray application. Knowing what moisture and temperature conditions favor certain fungus diseases, real time weather data from a nearby weather station can automatically be imported into a model to predict the disease pressure and tell whether it is economically feasible to spray or not.
These models will be based on GPS, Global Positioning Systems, using satellites and soil maps plus the knowledge of citrus scientists and growers. GPS-GIS, Global Positioning Systems - Graphical Information Systems, will help growers utilize Precision Agriculture by matching inputs based on actual yields of different portions on the field or grove.
If the soils on a particular area only yield so much, a cut back on fertilizers takes place in that area, thus saving money and the leaching of excess fertilizer into the surface water. Where soils are low in organic matter, less herbicide can be applied.
Equipment capable of varying applications of fertilizers and chemicals need to be developed with GPS systems and groves need to be mapped to identify the needs of specific areas. These have to be, and will be, cost beneficial to be able to utilize this new technology.
Already, many growers use sprayers that turn nozzles off and on depending on tree size using special image processing sensors. For a large tree, all of the nozzles are open. For a small tree, only the lower nozzles are activated. If there is a dead or missing tree, all of the nozzles are turned off. This alone has saved some growers in excess of 30% of spray material costs and has reduced the amount of chemicals being applied.
By using the best hybrids, specialized applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, maximum economical production per acre can be realized. Without these inputs, more acreage would need to be cleared and farmed in the future to be able to provide the world's growing population with safe, high-quality, and affordable supply of food and fiber.