Smart Farms and Smart Ranches Coming Soon


The smartphone has been a revolution in how we communicate and access information.
Now, advancing technology in agriculture means ‘smart farms’ and ‘smart ranches’ could soon be reality.

Jim Olson reports on how high tech is helping farmers and ranchers feed the world – by thinking small.

Imagine a farmer being able to target one specific weed that has developed a resistance to a standard herbicide – before it can spread and infest a field. It’s not science fiction.

(John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension Specialist) “With high resolution thermal imagery from a drone, we can pick out where those herbicide resistant weeds are, and then go back with a different chemical or maybe go out with another drone that would just spot-spray those specific weeds.”

That’s an example of precision agriculture. Using technology such as computer field mapping, variable rate spraying and planting, high resolution drone imagery and more to reduce input costs and increase yields, profits, and environmental stewardship.

(Blake Inman, Berthold Area Farmer) “It increases the sustainabilty. There’s no sense in putting something out there you don’t really need. It’s a budget issue and a quality issue.”

Blake Inman farms near Berthold and says precision ag has become a big part of his operation.

(Blake Inman, Berthold Area Farmer) “It’s changed a lot. It wasn’t that long ago that auto steer was new and now it’s not only steering itself, it’s conrolling what it’s doing depending on where you’re at in the field.”
(John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension Specialist) “The issue is managing that data. There’s so much data collected.”

NDSU’s John Nowatzki has spent years investigating technology applications for farmers and ranchers and says the improvements will be tested this summer. It’s called a ‘smart farm’ and will happen at research centers in Casselton and Minot.

(John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension Specialist) “We’re going to take all these technologies, everything that’s available, and collect the data and transfer it in real time and be able to analyze it and come back at the same time so we’re using all the data. Also incorporating agrinomics into it to make sure that what we’re doing has a return.”

For farmers like Blake Inman, that kind of research is golden. Why?

(Blake Inman, Berthold Area Farmer) “That’s better for the bottom line.”

So you can expect to see an expansion in precision farming in the coming years. Jim Olson, KX News.

Nowatzki says NDSU is also looking into setting up a ‘smart ranch’ research project in Dickinson in the near future.

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