National Geographic : 1970 Feb
PAINTEDFORTHE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETYDYDAVISMELTZER similar device waters neighboring strips of soybeans as a jet-powered helicopter sprays insecticides. Across a service road, conical mills blend feed for beef cattle, fattening in multilevel pens that conserve ground space. Tubes carry the feed to be mechanically distributed. A central elevator transports the cattle up and down, while a tubular side drain flushes wastes to be broken down for fertilizer. Beside the farther pen, a processing plant packs beef into cylinders for shipment to market by helicopter and monorail. Illuminated plastic domes provide controlled environments for growing high-value crops such as strawberries, tomatoes, and celery. Near a distant lake and recreation area, a pumping plant supplies water for the vast operation. on tracks or paved runways, swinging around at the end to work the adjacent plot without a wheel-touch compacting the soil in the cul tivated areas. "Weather control may tame hailstorm and tornado dangers," Dr. Irving added. "Atomic energy may supply power to level hills or provide irrigation water from the sea. Satel lites and airplanes overhead will transmit readings enabling a farmer to spot diseases breaking out in his crops more surely than he could by walking through the fields.* "Sensors buried in the soil will tell him when his plants need water, and automated *See "Remote Sensing: New Eyes to See the World," by Kenneth F. Weaver, GEOGRAPHIC, January 1969. irrigation systems will bring it to them. He may have at hand chemical means of speed ing or slowing crop growth to bring harvests to market at optimum times. Such things sound fantastic, but already they exist in pilot form or in the research stage." My mind churned with the implications of such developments building on the progress of the past. And a remark that I had chanced to overhear in my travels came into focus. It was voiced by an official of the Brazilian Gov ernment who had come to the United States to study our farming methods. "We are concerned about the future of agri culture in Brazil," he said. "In your country, you are in the future." THE END 185 N.G.S .