Cell phones, iPads, and toys such as geocaching instruments all use the same technology that most of our modern farmers use; GPS. My first experience in the field, harvesting wheat last fall, was on a Combine, moving speedily through the field, while it’s ‘driver’ and I sat and visited. The machine is programed via its GPS, using field coordinates and altitude to harvest the specific crop using the satellite technology we take for granted. The amazing thing is that each of us had a cell phone in our possession on the machine and none of them interfered with the other. We were not the only Combine in the field either – there were at least two more Combines, two tractor drivers and several truck drivers.
GPS, as our current computers, is based on mid-twentieth century technology developed to help the US military during wartime. By the end of the century we saw the expansion of use from primarily military to general and the parallel expansion of uses within the civilian world. Thus, my ride on the Combine through the wheat field in fall 2010. Not surprisingly, there is already technology to eliminate the need for the ‘driver’ of the combine; Drones.
For me the excitement of riding in my first harvesting machine is put in perspective: that in another few years that may be a passe’ thing to do. To miss the rush of wheat beneath the machine as the water beneath the prow of a ship, the grain spilling into the waiting bin as the chafe floats up and over unneeded, will be an experience our next generation may not comprehend. It will be that much more separation from the food we eat and the land we live on.
I carry my phone and use it frequently, I appreciate the impeccably straight lines planted by the GPS-equipped planters as I drive through the Basin, but I am glad I do my small scale garden with a shovel and a rake where I can appreciate the earth and enjoy the flavors of the food I grow.