As economic woes hit rural communities, farmers are turning to technology to keep their land secure. In an instantly famous spot from this year’s Super Bowl, renowned Midwestern radio personality Paul Harvey intones, “On the 8th day… God made a farmer.” And on the 9th day, the farmer began worrying about his livelihood — and looking for innovative ways to protect it. In recent years, surveillance cameras have become fixtures on numerous farms across the country, due in no small part to the advancing technology that enables remote monitoring from miles away. “I can be driving down the road and pull
it up on my smartphone and see who is there and what they’re doing,” Ross Ringling, a farmer from Platte, South Dakota, told The Daily Republic. The rising cost of fuel, grain and equipment over the past decade, compounded with hard economic times, the rise in commercial farmland area and the plummeting cost of technology have forced farmers to turn to security cameras and GPS trackers for added protection. To add insult to an already injured industry, recent droughts have caused the price of hay to skyrocket, which is particularly difficult in winter, when farmers rely on hay as opposed to grass fields where cattle can graze. Not surprisingly, with a hay shortage and a dramatic price increase, there has been a spike in the number of hay thefts. Once again, the ever-resourceful farm communities have turned to modern tech to take on thieves. One sheriff, Bobby Whittington, employed the use of a GPS tracker in a bale of hay to nab suspects at a farm in Tillman County, Oklahoma. After concealing the tracker, Whittington received a text message generated by his GPS system that evening alerting him that the bale had been taken off the property. Following the tracker’s movements, the sheriff tailed the suspects, eventually leading him to a stash site for the hay. The thieves then returned to the scene of the crime and attempted to make off with another bale; at that point Whittington intervened, busting the farm felons. Bottom line: No matter where you are or what you’re attempting to steal, you may just want to think twice about who or what could be watching you. As a proud son of the Midwest, it warms my heart to see the resourcefulness of our farmers.