At the end of a long weekend without any kids, my husband and I decided to watch the movie, Interstellar. In the flick, Matthew McConaughey is a farmer/engineer/NASA pilot who must go off into space and try to save the future of our species. Like most movies that include something about farming, there were more than a few errors.
First, combines were out in fields of completely green corn. Any corn farmer knows that you don’t need your combine in the field until well past the green stage of growth. The corn stalks are very dry, tan and brittle for harvest when the time comes. Anyone trying to run a combine through green corn will have more than just yield problems.
Second, and perhaps the most infuriating, was the assumption that the protagonist’s son wasn’t smart enough for college, so he should plan on a life of farming. This not only suggests that farmers aren’t educated; it also suggests that their line of work requires very little intellect to do or do well. If you haven’t set foot on a farm or in farm equipment, you might be surprised at how technologically advanced this industry has become.
As a result of this progress and innovation, a newly formed Senate Broadband Caucus is asking the Federal Communications Commission to prioritize mobile broadband development in agricultural areas. Why? Farmers are increasingly relying on apps to get the weather, calculate yields, assess moisture content and so much more. The machinery they use is more advanced than we could have imagined just a few years ago, submitting key information back to web-scale networking servers to determine best approaches to the activities that contribute to successful crops.
According to a Fox News report, the caucus was formed by five senators from states that are primarily rural. The group sent a letter to FCC (News - Alert) Chairman, Tom Wheeler, asking him to lean on the Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund in an effort to provide new mobile broadband in agricultural areas. They also asked that areas where mobile broadband is currently available be preserved and updated.
“More than ever before, U.S. farmers and ranchers are demanding reliable, high-speed mobile broadband services. Mobility is essential for new precision agriculture technologies to deliver productivity gains and environmental sustainability,” the senators wrote in the letter. “These technologies are transforming U.S. agriculture as American farmers and ranchers seek to feed, fuel, and clothe an ever-increasing global population using limited land, water, and other resources.”
The reality is that farmers need web-scale networking and mobile broadband to be successful as they are relying on technology, just like you and I do, to do their jobs well and make a decent living.
So how does a technology writer know so much about farming? I happened to marry into a farming family. My husband farms, has a college degree and is one of the smartest people I know. I am constantly amazed at the problems he must figure out on a daily basis to be profitable – and he does it well. Sorry, Matthew McConaughey – next time you play the farmer, do a little more research.
Edited by Maurice Nagle