Farmfront Board Director

Elizabeth Nyman

They may feel misunderstood in their professions. Not that it is a surprise. There’s kind of a bubble around their industry. A gleam and a tarnish that makes their profession stand out. A group of them came together at one of their largest yearly gatherings.  They then gathered words like these to describe their procession. 

“challenge”, “break”, “creative”, “understand”

Defining a Profession

Speaking as someone who grew up with and around farmers, I’d say these are core to the farming experience. Probably throw in other words like “dirty” and maybe “dammit”, but otherwise this is farm life. Machines break. Economic and food systems get in the way and get things out of the way. Animals can act stupid. Resources are limited. There’s a job that’s got to finish up and it will be.

 

There’s just one wrinkle in this description. That group of professionals asked to describe their professions? Those were hackers.

Farming Has Always Been a Tech Industry

I was raised by and grew up with farmers. Barn smell and baling wire conjure up childhood for me. Now I live with a blockchain mining rig in my basement and a 3d printer in my spouse’s office. The people I now interact with who operate the most in technology are different than my farming friends and family. Yet, they are the same.

Farming wouldn’t exist without tools and farmers are expert tool users. It has been evolving over the centuries to handle new resources, new governments, new economies, new science. To be a successful farmer is to be a successful tool user.

In fact, technology and tools are fundamental to farming. Their basic survival demands it. That fact makes it a factor for tech’s struggle to “disrupt” agriculture. In a technology forum called Hacker News, a contributor created a blog to explain the true nature of agriculture for a tech audience. The point?

Folks, it isn’t that agriculture is so different from technology. It is just that technology has already been a fundamental part of agriculture this whole time.

 

Computer Hacking as just another Farmering Skill

This history conflicts most with the business movement in the past decade or so to insist of “unauthorized service providers.” Tesla, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, and even John Deere have moved longterm product maintenance to those who pay them for accept to replacement parts and supplies along with software tools to bypass any encryption locks that prevent others from doing the same thing.  Farmers though are so aligned with hacker mentality, it is only natural that this prompted a whole John Deer Black Market.

Farm Kids Ready to Keep It Going

So where to next for agriculture to keep up with technology as before? Farm kid, Luke Silinski, is already thinking of it. He founded Agtech Steam. He gave a neat interview with Tim Hammerich on The Future of Agriculture Podcast in May 2020. He wants fellow rural kids to get interested in coding. Agtech Steam aspires to help them get inspired and build skills so their keeping up with the technologies available to take agriculture to the next level.

 

Whether it’s with a raspberry pi or baling wire, you can be pretty confident a farmer will get the job done.

 

 

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