The Pros and Cons of Agricultural Technology Advancement
Agricultural technology is a crucial approach that significantly supports global food production. However, every superior agricultural product seen today has a history of frequent redesigning or reinventing to provide the world with a better way of easing food productivity and increasing farm yields. Therefore, technology is recognized for developing the agricultural industry and guaranteeing the world a sustained future. Notably, agricultural technology has advanced animal breeding, genetic engineering, improved machinery, and irrigation farming sectors. Nonetheless, every change is accompanied with disadvantages, which range from environmental damage economic concerns and related social problems. It is important to note that the agricultural improvement exists amidst challenges; however, there is one realization that technology has considerably advanced the food production sector where more advantages emanate than disadvantages, as discussed.
Agriculture technology is acknowledged for revolutionizing the efficient farm machinery in the food production industry. In the current world, farmers no longer use the agrarian equipment as they have industrialized and adopted new farming tools that make work easier and less costly on a daily basis. As a result, people have experienced increased food productivity, as the superior machines available are efficient, thus resulting to productive outcomes (CEMA 1). Indigenous tools are no longer applicable as modernized machines like tractors, tillage equipment, harrows, wheeled tractors, mower, cultivators, drills, and plows are highly acknowledged for their efficiency. Notably, each device is specialized to undertake every farming activity where every machine either applies fertilizers, waters, harvests, or facilitates seed planting. With the immense assistance of farm machinery, farmers find it easier to produce the required amount of food crops, thus satisfying the needs and wants of their consumers globally (CEMA 1). Subsequently, most farmers enjoy economic independence due to increased productivity as they comfortably provide for their families or engage in other profitable investments.
Subsequently, agricultural technology also has tremendous advantages in the livestock production sector. The reason being that technology has made it easier for farm owners to efficiently manage and care for their animals, which in turn increase their products (Ramey 1). Besides advanced storage, machinery provides the farmer with a modernized way of storing their animal products for easy shipping to the required market, where they arrive clean, fresh, and well preserved. Efficient navigation of the livestock department is facilitated by superior products, including milk coolers, incubators, automated feeding, milking machines, egg handlers, loaders or haulers, and advanced watering systems for their animals. In fact, farmers and consumers require a timely and sufficient production process, which is quickly implemented through the technologically advanced machinery within the agricultural sector (Ramey 1). Technology is merited for advancing the crop production industry, allowing farmers to plant in time, nurture their crops or animal products appropriately, harvest in the required period, and timely delivery in stores.
Agricultural technology has assisted researchers in developing crops with improved genetic makeup. Indeed, genetic engineering is a scientific process where biotech professionals use modernized techniques to improve and modify an inferior plant species to match up with the nutritious and efficient contents of a superior consumption food crop. With such facilities, farmland productivity increases substantially. Thus, farmers enjoy good returns, while consumers take highly nutritious food on a daily basis. Genetically engineered crops are rapidly gaining popularity, considering that in 2007 over 12 million farmers planted these seeds on more than 111 million hectares of land (Motes 23). Notably, food production has improved since the crops produced through this approach are modified to resist drought and diseases. Moreover, genetically modified seeds are viable as they are adorned with protective genes that eliminate the possibility of pest infestation (The United Soybean Board 5). For that reason, farm owners spend a little amount of their resources fighting pest infection, which, if not controlled, can lead to lowered yields that severely affect the economic wellbeing of a farmer.
In addition, the genetically modified crops have high nutritional values as scientists have the opportunity to modify a plant’s texture, value, and flavor during breeding (The United Soybean Board 16). For instance, today, people enjoy soybeans, which have high protein levels, added starch in potatoes, while beans have increased amino acids, as well as the modified rice, which have the carotene element to prevent blindness. The environment also benefits from reduced exposure to pesticide sprays as GM crops have natural pest control elements, which leave the atmosphere clear and free from hazards that are harmful to workers or the owner (Motes 24). The immense benefits of the genetically modified crops have grown astronomically due to globalization reaching as far as China, Mexico, and South Africa.
On the other hand, the agriculture technology has modified superior livestock breeds that are highly productive and resilient to harsh climatic conditions. The world has a variety of animal species, which have been produced and genetically to improve their productivity and resistance traits (Neeteson et al. 12). Biotech researchers in agriculture are greatly attributed for measuring desirable characteristics in each breed and choosing the best livestock to parent beneficial animals in each era. Due to the vast number of animals, technological advancement in agriculture has assured the world of food security from the meat and dairy product perspective. Notably, by 2050, the world population will range from 7.8-10 billion people (Houses of Parliament 1). With such a figure, people’s income will increase alongside the high demand for quality foodstuff. That is why the livestock industry continually breeds a new type of animal to meet the needs of eggs, fish, meat, and other dairy products for continued development (Neeteson et al. 16). In essence, through genetic modification, farm animals can produce twice the amount expected from average livestock.
In addition, it is crucial to note that genetic engineering in animals has other significant effects in the medical industry. Doctors now lean on genetically modified animals to produce antibodies in large amounts for critical medical procedures. With the attained medicinal products, it becomes easier to cure some existing human conditions, which are challenging to treat due to the inadequacy of organ donor (Neeteson et al. 12). In essence, sheep and goats are the most modified livestock as their products are not harmful to human bodies instead they treat existing conditions that have inadequate medicinal elements to deal with various conditions.
Technology in agriculture has revolutionized irrigation farming methods to serve the needs of the farmers effectively. Farmers have adopted irrigation schemes in dry regions, which best assist their farming resources and empower them economically. In the US, irrigation is purposely developed for social and economic value, where the government feeds its bulging population and that of the world with adequate food and fiber content (Colback and Oksana 1). Irrigation farming methods are useful in that the crops cultivated provide high yields while they are protected from pest exposure, have high-quality agricultural products, are nutritious, and are delivered on time. Also, irrigation schemes competently meet the water demands of the desert and semi-desert regions. The technology applied in these farmlands effectively controls and accounts for the supplied water. For that reason, irrigation farms use very little amount of water to grow various crops.
Irrigation further allows farmers to cultivate and plant vast areas of land using the same amount of water, thus increasing productivity. Moreover, irrigated farmlands grow highly valuable water intensive crops that substantially satisfy their consumers’ wellbeing (Colback and Oksana 2). It is also imperative to note that irrigation technology allows the farmer to apply uniformly fertilizers, which are absorbed at the same rate by all the crops planted. Therefore, no fertilizer or pesticides are wasted as every plant absorbs these contents at an equal rate and at the same time. Irrigation also conserves energy as water is pumped automatically out on the land at the same rate and on gradual instances, especially if there are no power disruptions. Indeed, advanced irrigation methods reduce labor output as little time is used during weeding or fertilizer application processes (Colback and Oksana 2). The importance of irrigation technology is paramount as farm owners in vulnerable regions adapt to a resilient farming approaches that guarantee food security and economic empowerment.
Technology advancement in agriculture has many merits, but there are also disadvantages that come in the form of labor market economic concerns, social issues, and environmental problems. For instance, there are adverse impacts to the environment, including direct bearing on the ground and other water basins in quantity and quality. Natural water bodies are affected by the constant withdrawing of water, which eventually deteriorates the physical and chemical composition of such sources (Baldock et al. 40). As a result, wetlands and aquatic creatures suffer intensely to the extent of drying out or increasing temperature that lower the flow of water.
Abstraction of irrigation water for farming directly impacts the quality and quantity of the soil. Contamination affects its quality On the other hand, soil volume is affected by erosion in sloppy areas, which often leads to siltation and eventual desertification of once semiarid areas. Moreover, irrigation affects the biodiversity of a region and its landscapes (Baldock et al. 41). Mostly, these schemes displace existing habitats and design new ones, which mainly degrade the landscape composition and diversity of a region. In this case, wildlife becomes the most affected entity due to a changed habitat as wetlands turn into deserts, while over usage of pesticides affects the atmosphere making it impossible for birds and animals to exist. Lastly, irrigation indirectly affects the environment through fertilizer pollution in a bid to increase agricultural productivity. Notably, the pesticides and nutrients applied infiltrate into the water that later drains into water bodies and affects their aquatic life (Baldock et al. 41). Apparently, the advanced methods of irrigation pose a significant number of both direct and indirect adverse impacts on the environment.
Biotechnology is also associated with health-related risks, environmental issues, and related social problems. Health concerns arise from toxins and allergens that come from genetically modified foods that pose serious repercussions for people allergic to protein contents. On the environmental perspective, genetically modified crops are seen as potential weed pollinators resulting in the uncontrollable occurrence of insect resistant weeds on farms, leading to crops’ low-level productivity (Wieczorek 4). Moreover, transgenic plants are not pest resistant, as studies suggest. Instead, these creatures quickly adapt to their repellent elements and cause them to face significant infestation.
On the other hand, consumers label these foods as different from the traditional ones, thus lacking nutritious credibility (Wieczorek 5). Genetically modified foods are seen as eliminators of the original plant breeds as every generation evolves a new type of plant with the different genetic constitution from the parent seed. Machinery in agriculture technology is also associated with significant economic constraints as more people are unemployed due to the efficiency of these tools. Poor jobs often affect people in the rural areas as most individuals depend on farming. However, when machines are introduced, they replace human labor since the equipment is specialised for every farm task. Therefore, technological advancement in farm machinery leads to loss of livelihood in rural areas as more farmlands depend on the machinery at the expense of the human labor.
Technological progress poses various challenges on the existing workforce and the environment. On the other hand, the world has ethical concerns about the credibility of genetically modified foods. Therefore, the issues raised can be corrected by training workers on how to operate farm machinery, ensuring that irrigation water is treated before it is released into water sources, and creating awareness on the moral credibility of genetically modified foods. For that reason, technology in agriculture should be encouraged since it has many advantages on people and environments globally. Due to technology, people now enjoy nutritious genetically modified foods that are easy to grow and are resistant to different climatic conditions. Moreover, people are assured of food security, increased productivity, superior breeds, and economically empowered individuals.
Baldock, David, et al. “The Environmental Impacts of Irrigation in the European Union: A Report to the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission.” Institute for European Environmental Policy, London, 2000, pp. 1-147.
CEMA. “European Agricultural Machinery: Advancing Agricultural Mechanization (AM) to Promote Farming & Rural Development in Africa.” Cema European Association, 2014, pp. 1-6.
Colback,Richard and Oksana Nagayets. “Impact of Efficient Irrigation Technology on Small Farmers: International Finance Corporation.” World Bank Group, 2015, pp. 1-6.
Houses of Parliament. “Post Note: Improving livestock.” Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, vol. 393, 2011, pp. 1-4.
Motes, William. “Modern Agriculture and Its Benefits–Trends, Implications, and Outlook.” Global Harvest Initiative, vol. 12, 2011, pp. 1-32.
Neeteson, Anne Marie, et al. “Sustainable Farm Animal Breeding and Reproduction: A Vision for 2025″. Fabre Technology Platform, 2006, pp. 1-30.
Ramey, Karehka. Use of Technology in Agriculture. Use of Technology, http://www.useoftechnology.com/technology-agriculture/. Accessed November 26, 2016.
The United Soybean Board. “The Benefits of Biotechnology: Scientific Assessment of Agricultural Biotechnology’s Role in a Safer, Healthier World.” The American Soybean Association, 2015, pp. 1-28.
Wieczorek, Ania. “Use of Biotechnology in Agriculture: Benefits and Risks.” Cooperative Extension Service, vol. 3, 2003, pp. 1-6.