Chad Yagow 2016-10-25 00:16:22
After two decades of ASABE membership, there are some who still consider me young. One of those people is my mom. However, she would also tell you that I was probably born a couple of generations too late. You see, although I’ve worked as an engineer helping to develop some of the most advanced agricultural equipment of our time, I still enjoy using the machines of yesteryear—machines like a husking peg to harvest corn and a pitchfork to clean manure from a livestock pen. In its most basic form, a “machine” is defined as an instrument designed to transmit or modify the application of power, force, or motion, so my examples are indeed machines. In some parts of the world, this is “machine” state-of-the-art. In the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, a “machine” has for decades been known as an assemblage of parts that transmit force, motion, and energy from one to another in a predetermined manner, or as a piece of equipment with moving parts that does work when it’s given power from electricity or a combustible fuel source. This would be the “machine” that likely comes to mind for most of you. Consider the image above. Would you consider this example of using a “machine” something from the past, from the present, or from the future? In some areas of the globe, and in some food and fiber production systems, mechanically applying pesticides or fertilizer is alien. In other areas, this form of application would be considered not only archaic but also unsafe. When thinking about the frontiers of agricultural machinery, many would like to conjure up images similar to that shown on the cover of Resource almost six years ago, in “The Farm of the Future” special issue of January/February 2011, where robotic machines were operating autonomously in a cornfield. However, autonomy is only one of many frontiers to consider. With the gracious contributions of many ASABE members, I have attempted to gather articles to allow you, the reader, to consider the myriad of agricultural machine frontiers that we as agricultural and biological engineers need to consider. I have tried to cover the gamut from smallholder production to broad-acre production, from specialty crops to commodity crops, and from traditional horsepower to renewable horsepower. These articles tell of global efforts you might not have heard of before, and of regional efforts that could have global implications. Hopefully, some of the frontiers that our authors have highlighted will seem like old news, and others will surprise you. If so, then I’ve completed my task well, as old frontiers for some will be new frontiers for others. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your guest editor for this issue. By the way, if you don’t remember “The Farm of the Future” special issue, pull it out of your stack of old magazines or download it from the ASABE website (http://www.asabe.org/media/222755/resource18-01janfeb2011.pdf). Compare the views on agricultural machinery from back then to the views expressed in this issue. You may be surprised by what has changed, and what hasn’t.
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