Q6. [SOLVED] How is science interwoven deeply with our lives? What are the striking changes in agriculture triggered off by the science-based technologies? UPSC GS-3 mains 2020)

A common belief is that science and technology relate to fields such as physics, engineering, and computer science. All of these are fantastic ideas, but the role of technology in our lives is much more far-reaching.

  • At the moment, we are used to the technological development which is happening rapidly. However, this advancement also causes negative consequences. Many impacts are left on our world and it is being damaged gradually.
  • Throughout history, scientific and technological advances have greatly impacted the agriculture industry.
  • Early farmers improved their crop production by inventing the first hoes. Today, farmers improve crop production through the use of hi-tech methods.

New Ideas and Inventions

  • One milestone in the evolution of technology in Iowa occurred with the completion of rail lines across the state. By 1870 transportation had been greatly expanded—which made it easier for farmers to market their products outside the Midwest.
  • Transportation advances greatly impacted the life of an Iowa farmer. Another event that affected farm life was the commercial production of barbed wire.
  • As the land became more settled and there were fewer and fewer acres of open prairie, farmers needed a way to keep their own cattle at home.
  • Barbed wire was the answer. Instead of grazing on open prairie, cattle were fenced in the farmer’s own field and fed with corn. This allowed Iowa farmers to transition from cattle grazing to cattle raising.

New Ways of Farming

  • By the latter part of the 19th century farmers had learned to diversify their crop production and to raise livestock for profit. Iowa farmers had learned the value in planting corn and feeding it to fatten their livestock.
  • Advances in farm machinery production changed the way farmers worked. They were able to cover more land at a faster pace; and as manufacturers added seats to farm machinery, farmers found some relief from their backbreaking labors.
  • The development of better corn seed is one of the biggest improvements in the past 100 years. Farmers once shelled the kernels from the longest and best looking ears from the harvest and planted those kernels the next spring.
  • However, plant scientists like Henry A. Wallace began experimenting with ways to produce even better seed. They learned how to use the pollen from one variety of corn to fertilize another variety to produce a hybrid. The new variety grew ears that were better than either of its “parents.” In the 1930s many farmers began buying hybrid corn seed.
  •  Today nearly all corn planted in the United States and much of the rest of the world is some hybrid variety.

Science and technology Spreading New Ideas

  • Early in Iowa’s settlement by European farmers, a number of institutions were established to encourage agricultural advances.
  • State and county fairs were held and became show places for the best in all areas of agriculture. They helped spread the news about new ideas and methods.
  • And they encouraged farmers to develop new products and new ways of doing their work.
  • Interests in agricultural advancement also was reflected in the early provision for a state agricultural college and model farm to promote better farming techniques.
  • The formal program of instruction began at Ames in 1869, and the college eventually developed into a nationally recognized leader in scientific agricultural advancement.
  • The college developed extension services, education for people who are not enrolled as students, to provide up-to-date assistance for women and men on Iowa’s farms.
  • They learned about soil conservation, corn seed selection and cultivation, crop rotation and manure management.
  • The invention of radio and television made it possible for farm families to learn about new ideas. They learned about new kinds of technologies such as food-freezing processes that revolutionized food storage.
  • They also learned about hybrid seed that boosted crop production, and soybeans that became a major crop addition.
  • New ways of spreading information allowed farm families to hear about soil conservation programs also. They learned about cattle and hog breeding which in turn improved the livestock industry.

Science and technology :Conserving Resources

  • Over the years farmers have become more aware of conservation methods to prevent erosion and to protect the water.
  • Some farmers have planted buffer strips—wide strips of grass—along waterways. These grassy strips trap soil and chemicals before they reach the water.
  • Many farmers have changed plowing practices—plowing their fields less often and not as deep. This helps to keep soil from blowing away.
  • All these advances in the area of science and technology have resulted in fewer farmers working bigger farms. They have also meant Iowa’s farm families are producing more than in the past.
  • Some of the changes that have occurred as a result of scientific advances have been good for Iowa; some have caused problems for Iowans. Many farmers use global positioning systems and agree that it is a new form of technology that benefits farmers.
  • But advances in biotechnology and crop production has caused controversy. Iowa’s farmers continue to adapt to the changing technologies. And they continue to contribute to the science of agriculture.

Science and technology ::Impact of Science-Based Technologies on Agriculture

  • Green Revolution: During the Green Revolution in the 1960s, India could achieve self-sufficiency in food grain production by using modern methods of agriculture like better quality of seeds, proper irrigation, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • GM Crops: Genetically modified (GM) crops are believed to be one of the many S&T innovations for increasing productivity and food security.
  • Precision Agriculture: Information and communication technologies and mobile technology is playing an important role in monitoring and controlling crop irrigation systems.
  • If modern agriculture is applied widely in the near future, millions of farmers will be able to benefit from the acquisition of real-time farm information.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Commercialization of Agriculture, all across the world, has led to the increasing use of chemical fertilizers, widespread mechanization, etc. This has led to environmental detrimental agriculture.
  • The ongoing research in agriculture sciences can make agriculture more sustainable.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are considered to be one of the many S&T innovations for supporting sustainable agriculture. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have increased precision agriculture and efficient use of resources. Covering more land at a faster pace, hybrid varieties to boost crop production, soil conservation, crop rotation, manure management, irrigation ease are some other prominent changes that happened. Though excessive use of chemical fertilizers and additives, inputs leading to high-carbon agriculture, impacts of widespread mechanization, and growing artificiality of the natural environment driven by technologies could industrialize agriculture, hence the reason for “industrialization of nature”.

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