County Ag Report: Advancements in Farming Tech

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:21 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - One of the oldest trades is moving with the times.

“I can put you in this tractor, if we type it in the computer two minutes, I could put you in this tractor, I could have you drive a straighter row than your grandfather could in three minutes,” said Gary Nadeau, solutions specialist and salesman for Theriault equiment.

Nadeau visited UMPI this week to chat with students about developments in farming technology.

“Our father is using GPS,” said Grant Hemphill, of the multigenerational Hemphill Farm. He and his brother attend UMPI’s Agricultural Technology, Operations, and Safety course. “But when he started farming there was no GPS then, so we’re the first generation to really start out using it.”

Students of the Agricultural technology operations and safety class at UMPI learned tractor basics on Monday, and simulated a farm and farming task on Wednesday. Later this month, they’ll put the UMPI tractor to work, programming it to complete a variety of jobs—virtually.

“All this technology is already out there and all students have to do is keep updated on what is out there,” said Bee Chim, a professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The tractor will complete tasks without necessarily needing an experienced operator behind the wheel

“It’s gonna save you fuel, its gonna save you time its gonna save you money,” said Nadeau. “And the answer was always, well I still gotta put a guy in the tractor what is he gonna do? That’s not the answer anymore. Now the answer is “Oh my gosh, we’re shutting the tractors off three hours earlier a day, we’re saving 20-25-30 gallons of fuel a day”.”

While the tractors still require a driver in the field, troubleshooting can be done remotely and things like spraying can be precision-programmed.

“You’ll be able to save time, save money, save energy,” said Richard Brzozowski, a professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “It’s an investment, but it’s also a payback.”

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