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The Farming + Fitbit Connection

You have one. Your mom has one. Your kids have them. The only one who doesn’t have one yet is the family dog. Fitbit® and other wearable activity trackers are everywhere you look, but what do they do besides count steps? We employ this technology to track our activity, collect data and provide advice about living healthier lives.

Similarly, farmers use all types of technology to gather data on the health of their farm and to make improvements for the future. Let’s take a look at how farm technology today is like your Fitbit.

Tracks Activity

Activity trackers have the capability to capture movement and categorize it into what it thinks you’re doing. Understanding your level of exercise gives you a more accurate depiction of the calories you burned and lets you know the types of exercise that give you the most bang for your buck. Pretty cool, huh?

In the same way, soybean farmers use yield data from harvest, along with field maps that monitor soil types and growing conditions, to evaluate which seed varieties performed the best. Once they know which seeds are the most productive and are best at resisting diseases, they can plant more of those during the next growing season and keep South Dakota in the top 10 soybean-producing states.

Monitors Rest

Activity trackers and even your smartphone track you while you sleep to evaluate the quality of your rest each night. Over time, the data shows when you’re sleeping best, when you’re not and suggests possible factors that may be affecting your sleep.

As it turns out, people are not the only ones who track times of rest and activity. Dairy farmers utilize activity trackers for their dairy cows. Cows wear activity trackers on their ankles that track steps, how much milk they’ve produced and how much they’ve rested. Cattle, like humans, are creatures of habit, so they generally walk the same amount and rest the same amount every day. If a cow is resting too much, she might be sick or hurt and in need of attention from a vet.

Analyzes Calories Burned

Tracking your activity is just the start. A Fitbit can also tell you how many calories you’ve burned. By monitoring your heart rate and analyzing the data you input about the food you eat, you get a good picture of your net caloric intake. This is great for those planning to shed a few pounds without sacrificing nutrition.

Just like us, crops need the right nutrition to be healthy. Plants require a steady diet of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for a bountiful harvest. To make sure they get the nutrients they need, trained crop scouts scour fields with iPads and GPS technology to tell farmers what’s missing. Then farmers sync their equipment with the same software to precisely apply nutrients at the right rates.

Bet you didn’t realize today’s farmers are potentially as tech savvy as your kids. The best part is farmers track all that data, year after year, so they can improve how they grow and raise food on their farms, making more food with less.

Get a closer look at the precision technology used on today’s farms by taking a trip out to Arlington to visit Craig Converse.