Folks who've been around agriculture for more than 10 years can appreciate the fundamental changes farmers have made as they attempt to compete in an increasingly volatile marketplace and against foreign producers who often offer goods prepared by labor paid a fraction of what U.S. workers make and under virtually no environmental or workplace restrictions.
Many U.S. farmers attribute their ability to maintain a presence in the global market to reducing production costs, cutting out non-essential practices and stretching labor and capital as far as possible.
Many also say that some of those production cost cuts are possible only because improved technology gives them flexibility to manage weeds, insects and diseases. They're making higher yields with fewer trips across the fields, fewer herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications and fewer man-hours to prepare land, plant seed and harvest crops.
They say advances from crop protection companies have allowed them to become more efficient.
Making the process even more complicated and even more necessary is the prediction that in the next 25 years the world's agricultural production system must double its output to meet needs of a population twice the size it is today.
The demand for water will play an equally crucial role in agricultural productivity as soon as the next 10 years and far into the future.
And those necessary changes will occur, according to three industry representatives who participated in a panel discussion at the Ag Technology Conference on the Texas A&M-Commerce campus last December.
Spokesmen for Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont accepted the challenge to take a “Crystal Ball Look” to 10 years out and talk about what's on the horizon to make agricultural production even more efficient and to discuss some advances that will improve the lot of consumers.