Posts Tagged With: technology

Super Simple Soil Experiment

If you didn’t see them last week, scroll down to Law of Supply and Demand Lesson Plan and check out the tires on the tractor, cart, and combine.

What do you think?  Pretty big, huh.  Well, today you will learn why farm equipment needs to have such large tires!

To begin, let’s try a super simple soil experiment.  You will need three things.

1.) Either some soil or sand

2.) Your finger

3.) Your hand

Like I said, super simple soil experiment.  Let’s start with the soil or sand.  All you need is a pile.  It can be in a pot, in the bag you bought it in, or in the sandbox, but you need a pile, not just the ground in your backyard.

Soil Science experiment

Next you need your finger.  Got it?  Good.  Poke your finger down into the soil.

soil experiment

Did your finger go down into the soil?  Unless your dirt is really a rock, your finger likely went in all the way.  Now, spread your fingers wide and place your whole hand on the soil.  Push down again.

soil experiment

Unless your soil is more like oozy mud, your hand probably made little more than a print.  Compare the two “holes” you made.  Do they look like mine?

soil experiment

Your finger made a much deeper hole, didn’t it.  And this hole was not made by taking soil out of the pile, but by pushing it in.  Soil being pushed down is called “compaction.”  Compacted soil is hard.  It has little room for air, water, or roots to grow.  Compaction is bad!

Unfortunately, compaction is also a reality.  Farmers must drive tractors, combines, sprayers, and other equipment over the ground.  So they have to do something about it.  Historically farmers have solved this problem by plowing their fields.  Horses pulled the first steel plows through the ground hundreds of years ago.  The metal knife cut into the ground, breaking the soil into pieces.  This helped with compaction, but can you guess what it hurt?  Erosion.  When the dark brown dirt was turned over and the seed bed was smooth even a small rain could wash away the soil into ditches, streams, and rivers.  Big rains could wash away entire portions of a field.

So today many farmers use a method called “no-till”.  Instead of plowing the ground farmers plant seeds into dirt that was left just as it was after last year’s crop was harvested.  Roots from the old plant hold the soil together, preventing erosion, BUT the soil was again compacted.

Engineers, Scientists, and others worked with equipment companies like Case IH and John Deere to make new tires that would cause less compaction.  They used the same idea you just did with your finger and hand.  Old tractor tires were small and thin, sort of like your finger.  New tractor tires are wide and gigantic, sort of like your open hand!  New tires were made of rubber, instead of steel and farmers often let some air out of the tires to make them squash even more, the way a balloon will squeeze flat when it is almost out of air.  Some tractors and combines even run on tracks, like a bulldozer, which lessens compaction even more.

Farmers care about the earth and the soil on it because they understand how important healthy soil is to happy eating!  And who knows?  Maybe one day you will become a scientist and help create new technologies that will allow farmers to take even better care of our world!

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Ride in Daddy’s Tractor

You’ve heard lots about farm life, but you haven’t been able to ride in Daddy’s tractor just yet!  Well hop on board as we plant field corn right in our own front yard!

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The Modern Farmer

a modern farmer

Is this what you think of when you picture a farmer?  Maybe a man wearing overalls and a baseball cap, mud boots and a trusty dog?  Does he have a straw hat and carry a pitch fork?  Is he riding a tractor or a horse?  Try drawing, painting, or sketching your own picture of what you see in your mind when you think of a “farmer.”

For many farmers mud boots will always be a fact of life, but the modern farmer might not be what you think.  This is a picture of Daddy in his tractor.

face of the modern farmer

Yes, he sometimes wears coveralls (mostly in the winter) but check out this tractor cab!  If the flashing screens and hands-free headset weren’t in your original drawing, you are not alone.  Most people don’t understand the technology involved in modern agriculture.

Did you know farmers use some of the most advanced technology on the planet?  In fact the level of research being done to help farmers feed the world is matched only by the military.  Have you ever seen a car driving without a person behind the wheel?  This technology is still a dream for the future, but today Daddy can sit in his tractor, watch his monitors, check the seed spacing, and control the planters functions and not even touch the steering wheel.

face of the modern farmer

In this picture you see the planter’s  Precision 20/20 monitor, which shows all kinds of information about how the seeds are going in the ground.  The GPS monitor shows a picture of the field, where he needs to plant, what has been planted, and how fast he is going.  You can also see the ipad, which records all of that information and allows Daddy to add in more data, like how much fertilizer was added to the field and what the yield turns out to be in the fall.  Using the apps on this ipad Daddy can see which kinds of seed did well, exactly where we need more fertilizer (preventing excess chemical use), what kind of fertilizer (making your food more nutritious), and lots more!  You can’t see it, but also in the cab is an ipod, where Daddy can listen to both music and pod casts of radio farm shows.  The smart phone hangs from the window, allowing Daddy to check the weather with a radar app or make a call to the person running the seed tender with his hands-free jaw bone.  And yes, he can also post to facebook if he wants!

So tell me– is this what you expected the modern farmer to look like?

*Painting from risingartist.com, Artshop 77

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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