What is Agricultural Technology?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
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Agricultural technology is the tools and machinery that are used primarily or entirely in order to support agricultural enterprise. Examples include plows, threshers, and irrigation systems. These forms of technology, which are all regularly used in modern agricultural settings, have a long history in farming and have been reinvented and redesigned many times over. Plows, for example, were originally pulled by animals but now are usually powered by engines. For people who are interested in the history of agricultural technology, there are a number of museums that have preserved old or outdated pieces of machinery and have staff on hand to explain how they worked and why they have been replaced.

In the course of agricultural history, there have been improvements to technology that have greatly changed the ways in which certain types of crops were grown or harvested. The cotton gin is a good example of this. Before Eli Whitney invented the modern cotton gin in the late 18th century, cotton fibers were separated from cotton seeds either by hand or by using much more antiquated technology. Because of the effectiveness of the cotton gin, the production of cotton in the United States soared after this new piece of technology became available.


There are different types of agricultural technology for different kinds of farms. For example, the machinery required to successfully run a large-scale dairy farm is much different than that required to run a small winery. There are regular innovations, alterations, and improvements to the technology that is available to farmers. In some cases, the changes just slightly alter or improve farming techniques, but in others, such as with the cotton gin, it can entirely change a certain aspect of agriculture.

As progress marches on, there are more and more changes to agricultural technology. The technology that is available is regularly being altered so that it can be more precise in its functions and can perform more complex functions. For example, some people in the field of agriculture believe that, in the not- too-distant future, many agricultural machines that are currently manned or driven by humans will be able to operate on their own. In the future, there may be agricultural robots that do a great deal of the work that, a century or so ago, was done by people.


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Post 8

I work at an auto parts store that is across the street from a huge agricultural equipment lot and they have some amazing machines over there. I am am talking about the serious combines, harvesters, and irrigation systems that they use to maintain the most massive farms.

I have talked to the guys over there a few times and it is serious stuff. It makes a car look like a little toy. I would love to give one of the big combines a test drive, but for obvious reasons they won't let me.

Post 4

@SkyWhisperer - I lived in Indonesia for a number of years and was present when Jakarta held an international conference on agriculture technology. As you know, Indonesia produces a lot of rice—lots and lots of rice. However, there are still regions of the country that are deluged with swamp land and so these are not ideal conditions for planting crop of any kind.

One of the themes of the conference was how to use modern farming technology to dredge some of these areas and make them suitable for farming. I think it will take a lot of foreign investment, but Indonesia is poised for substantial development of its agriculture which will pull many more people out of poverty.

Post 3

One of the things that I think is worth mentioning in this discussion of technology in agriculture is the use of biotechnology. The main purpose of biotechnology is to increase crop yields and produce crops that are resistant to insects and disease.

These would be the genetically engineered approaches to agriculture, although I know that some people oppose these methods on the grounds that that it doesn’t represent truly organic farming. I say anything that helps us to produce more from what we have is worth having.

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