Editorial: Science pushes change in ag production methods

As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for food. As the demand for food grows, so does the demand for farmers to increase yields. To increase their efficiency and productivity, farmers are embracing technology to help maximize yields for their customers and profits for their pocketbooks.

Being a farm kid myself, I have learned there is always more than one way to do a task — and there is more than one way to farm. ­In ­modern agriculture, technology provides almost endless possibilities.

Some modern farming practices are controversial. Many people do not like the idea of having their food sprayed with chemicals, eating genetically modified organisms, or having cows that produce milk injected with rBST, a milk-producing hormone. I can understand why many people may feel this way. I personally do not like the use of Roundup Ready herbicide.

If you walk down the aisles of your local grocery store, you can find milk jugs such as Dean’s, Prairie Farms, and Highland Dairy products with labels that state: “Our farmers pledge not to use artificial growth hormones.” The rBST that some farmers use increases milk production in the cows. Some people don’t like this because they think it hurts the cows to make more milk.

I grew up on a large beef cattle operation where I have seen my dad use Ralgro, a growth enhancer in our cattle. I am not particularly fond of using that product; however, it did help increase the calves’ weights — and also increased our paychecks. I know, as a producer, people do not like the idea of chemicals in their food supply, but safe use of chemicals has allowed us to keep up with the demand for food in the world.

Farmers have embraced new ways to produce food and crops. If not for science and technology we would not have enough food to sustain the already high demand that exists. University studies show there are better techniques for raising cattle. Science has had a positive effect on modern agriculture through research that shows farmers how strip grazing cattle is better than traditional grazing. Science has also brought about positive changes to the crop industry. From GMOs to crop rotation, and from irrigation practices to fuel efficient tractors, science is pushing change in food production methods. If Monsanto did not create the GMO crops, farmers would not be able to feed today’s population. A GMO corn plant can produce more kernels per ear, more ears per plant, more plants per acre and then more bushels of corn for the farmer.

Not all “modern” practices involve the use of GMOs, chemicals or confined animals. For instance, if I had not been researching modern agriculture innovations, I would not have been able to tell my dad about new grazing practices for beef cattle. Now my dad is a full-time farmer and he uses the practice of strip grazing on a daily basis. I have noticed a huge difference in the cattle, the cows are fatter by just eating grass. We have eliminated our use of grain, and the calves have larger weaning weights. This grazing is a part of modern agriculture, and by using this we have been able to feed more people.

Maybe you don’t like GMO’s or animal agriculture, but one thing is for sure, you probably eat. I am a true believer in the statement, “If you eat, you are involved with agriculture.” By consuming an animal or plant product, you are supporting a farmer or rancher somewhere in the world who has used modern agricultural practices in some way. I know one thing for sure, years of science and technology have helped get that food product to where it is today

Laura Bardot

About the Author Laura Bardot

I knew how to drive a tractor in a field long before I knew how to drive a vehicle on the road. I hail from a century farm in Lonedell, Missouri, and have always had a deep-rooted passion for agriculture. I grew-up on my family’s large commercial beef cattle operation and was active in the local 4-H club and FFA chapter during my youth. I am excited to be writing for Corner Post for my third semester. Corner Post has provided me with several great writing opportunities for stories in the past and I look forward to the stories that come from this semester.