“The Costco Connection” magazine Helps Tell the Farmer’s Story
I recently read an article entitled “Food 2.0” by Hana Medina in a somewhat unlikely magazine, “The Costco Connection”. Perhaps it should not be such a surprise, as Costco highly promotes a “Farm to Table, the Costco Way” program. On many products, they identify the farm producing the product, as well as promote their brands and provide useful recipes.
The article explains and illustrates the vast amount of technology that is used in farming today. Starting with a Nebraska farmer using GPS tracking and having seven different screens in the combine to collect crop and field data. It goes on to explain that the harvest data is the end of the data collection for the year, with the starting point being soil fertility tests prior to planting. Further describing variable rate fertilizer applications, beneficial value of cover crops, and efficient use of water and all inputs; this article provides an accurate and concise explanation of technology use on a Midwestern farm.
A little further from the Midwest, the article goes to California and talks about a “bug vacuum”, capable of vacuuming harmful insects from strawberry plants. While that does not sound high-tech to me, it is innovative and greatly reduces pesticide use in both conventional and organic strawberries. The strawberry farmers also use a self-driving “mercado” machine that straddles the rows, carrying containers and boxes, allowing the hand-picked strawberries to be loaded directly on the Mercado eliminating excessive walking to transport berries to field edges.
Still further from a Midwestern farm field, the article goes into a 6-acre greenhouse filled with butter lettuce. Much of the work being done in the greenhouse is by robots. From creating soil pots, planting seeds in the pots, watering, and applying a garlic-extract for insect control; robots have replaced humans on many of the repetitive and undesirable jobs. Plus, all operations are monitored and controlled by a cloud-based program that tells the staff what needs to be accomplished each day. The result: a greenhouse operation capable of producing 20-times the annual yield of a field operation.
Still more advanced, is a 168-acre greenhouse operation, producing a variety of fruits and vegetables hydroponically. Water use is up to 10-times more efficient than land farming, and control of all growing factors is expanded.
I salute and highly commend Hana Medina and Costco for helping to tell the farmer’s stories. We all know that technology is highly present in our farming operations. But, the typical consumer likely has no idea of how much technology is used and how effective it is in the continued effort to increase yields to “feed the world”. American farmers continue to be the backbone of food and feed production globally. So, it is great to have people like Costco telling the farmer’s story.
If you have a chance, check it out! The American farmer’s story is a great story and one that all of us should tell and share with others.