The urban resident sees a farmer as a man with a straw hat sitting on a tractor driving mindlessly up and down a field of dirt.
Sometimes on a Sunday morning drive the same urban resident sees a farmer as the man on the tractor who is driving slowly in front of them on a quiet county road.
The reality is that a modern day Ontario farmer is just as likely to be a women instead of a man and that field of dirt is being driven over by machines that rival many science fiction novels in their incredible designs.
When it comes to agricultural commerce progressive science is the driving force behind it.
You often here the expression, “From the field to the table”, as a catch phrase to describe a hundred years of innovation, trial and error, disaster and triumph, toil and education, reinvention and thoughtful business strategies.
What began as a plan to feed your own family with a few acres of food, hand sown and harvested, has evolved into a multi-million dollar industry that has connections all around the world.
The original farmers, who archeologists believe started things off more than 8,000 years ago in the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin, only has their own hands and some stout sticks as farm implements. No big agricultural industry happening back then, just people learning to tame the environment around them so that they could survive.
Speeding things up to today – and we have engineers designing planters that are able to drop seeds into a field at a fantastic rate and an almost guaranteed harvest for the farmer, thanks to science.
It is just a matter of time before some enterprising engineer comes up with a way to drop a corn seed with its tip straight down into a hole dug by a planter being pulled at ten miles per hour at exactly the right depth to maximize the moisture content of the hole around the seed while adding just the perfect amount of nitrogen to guarantee exceptional growth; and then pulling off the same seed drop a few seconds later in another perfect hole with perfect conditions.
The experts already know how to measure just about everything from how much sunlight a plant needs to how to get existing plants to produce more.
Eventually no one should be at all surprised to see a combine that can harvest potatoes at its front end and pop out a bag of potatoes chips out the back.
All kidding aside, what is being done these days to increase the effectiveness of an acre of land is nothing short of amazing.
Our ancestors would believe that all of this modern technology and especially the positive results were the result of witchcraft. Even more amazing will be the day when the weather is tamed and then the final piece of the puzzle will have been put in place.
That bowl of cereal or glass of beer looks and tastes simple enough and familiar, but how it sprung from a bag of seed into a piece of dirt into your local grocery store, and then to your kitchen table is an amazing journey all made possible by innovative engineering, out of the box imagination and hard won science.
Those early farmers would be impressed.