A fifth-generation farmer from the Salina area says technology and data collection in agriculture is improving decision-making and operations.
The comments came during a U.S. Senate committee hearing last week on the utilization of data in farming.
Justin Knopf grows wheat, alfalfa, soybeans and other crops across a 4500-acre farm in Gypsum. He’s also the vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.
He testified about the increasing use of drones and satellite imagery to collect data from the farm.
"It’s just a better, more efficient precise way to collect data across a wide scale," he said.
Knopf uses equipment for seeding, spraying and harvesting that collects data on what’s being done or happening in the field.
He said the quality and the quantity of data in agriculture, and its importance, is driving the improvement of farming practices and its value will only continue to grow.
“It is vital that our stakeholders and collaborators work alongside our public research institutions, such as Kansas State University, to continue to develop the tools farmers need to be successful. Private industry is rapidly expanding in this space and the technology is changing by the day," Knopf said. "Competition for the 'digital acre' is increasing and it is rapidly driving innovation.”
Knopf told senators there’s a need to protect farmers’ ownership rights and privacy as new ways to collect and utilize data continue to develop.
He was one of five witnesses at the hearing who testified about the potential benefits of advancements in agricultural technology.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security.
“As our technological capabilities expand, we see more opportunities for the agricultural community to adopt tools such as field sensors, drones, satellite imagery, advanced machinery and many other similar pieces of technology as they work to increase crop yields and improve sustainable practices,” Moran said. “Not only can this technology make farming and ranching more efficient and successful, it has the potential to generate revenue for our ag community.”
Additional witnesses included Farmobile Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jason Tatge; Todd Janzen, president of Janzen Agricultural Law, LLC, and a former resident of south-central Kansas; Dr. Shannon Ferrell, associate professor at Oklahoma State University; and Dr. Dorota Haman, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida.
Moran left the hearing open for two weeks for lawmakers to submit additional questions.
Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.
To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.