n Farmer’s Weekly - Too many new toys and not enough profit? : global farming




Technology can be highly seductive, as any parent of a teenager will know. It is very easy to get so involved with technology that you neglect the other important aspects of managing a farm business. New technology usually follows what is known as the Gartner hype cycle. First, there is the trigger ' the announcement of some new advance. Then there's the hype, leading to inflated expectations about the benefits of the technology. This is followed by a period of disillusionment, when it becomes clear that the claims were vastly exaggerated. As practical ways of implementing the technology become clear and second- and third generation products appear, users begin to understand and apply the technology properly. This is followed by a plateau of productivity when the technology becomes generally accepted and starts to pay off. Precision crop farming technology and the use of GM seed have probably reached this stage. Both enable farmers to produce more efficiently. A USDA study shows savings of about R740/ha are common where yield mapping and the variable application of fertiliser and seed (variable rate technology) are used. Similar savings are found with precision feeding in intensive and pasture-based dairy herds.


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