|Then & Now Computers & the Internet
The information revolution that began in the 1940s, broadened and deepened in the late 20th Century as computers and the Internet brought the cost of distributing information to extremely low levels.
Computers, of course, are the guts of many other new technologies, like satellite communication and imagery, global positioning systems (GPS), microwave and other transmission systems. Coupled with the Internet, all this electronics created a second revolution in agricultural marketing.
Price quotes are now instantaneous and worldwide. News of a flood in Brazil may picked up by a farmer in Nebraska who realizes that the price of soybeans is going to be rising as worldwide supply goes down. Waiting for the price rise before marketing his crop could mean the difference between success and failure.
In addition, farmers now have instantaneous access to market analysis services services that were previously available only to brokers and traders in centralized markets.
The computer also made the analysis of information at the individual farm level possible. Cattle producers now track feed inputs and weight gains on individual cows on a daily basis. Crop producers track seed selection, irrigation rates, fertilizer use, pesticide applications and yields. Most recently, the addition of GPS systems on tractors and harvesters allow the farmer to track information on every foot of their land, adjusting application rates to match the needs of that specific piece of ground.
The information revolution has truly changed farming.