SciFi in Ag: What do North Dakota, Peru, and Mars Have in Common? Farming, of Course

Matt Damon farming potatoes on Mars in “The Martian”

In early 2016, I was lucky enough to hike the Salkantay Mountain range in Peru. It’s about a 50 mile hike at elevations up to 15,000 feet. Our hike brought us to the base of Machu Picchu, and then from there we climbed 1,400 stairs (that are also a thousand years old) into the Inca-like resort.

The Incan Empire carved flat spots on the mountainside, which we now call terraces. The Incan culture invented the concept of terrace farming. (They were also the first people to grow potatoes!) Each terrace is probably no more than 20 feet wide with a 10 foot drop off the edge down to the next one. Terrace farming is likely the only way they could get enough soil space to reasonably grow their crops in the mountains. A brilliant design by a thousand year old culture, no doubt.

The agricultural landscape in Peru felt so foreign to my Red River Valley childhood, where the largest hills were the interstate highway’s on and off ramps. I was utterly impressed by the ingenuity of the human species to grow and farm in all kinds of environments.

Which brings me to Mars. If humanity is going to take a run at colonizing another planet, we will need a lot of help. Hollywood has cinematized astronauts being backed into a figurative corner where they are given a “farm or die” proposition. Humans have an amazing ability to solve problems when it’s life or death. Especially in the movies.

Ryan Raguse, Co-Founder & Chairman, Myriad Mobile.

But I think it would be better to figure things out before we get there.

I know of no other group of people than those in the United States’ agriculture system to take part in that challenge. Certainly people, like Elon Musk, who want to get to Mars in the next 15 years are working on creating a sustained ecosystem for survival.

The U.S. agriculture system is well-positioned to take a run at colonizing another planet. We’ve been prepping for this journey for generations. We have hundreds of years of knowledge about opening up and farming new land, we’re collecting mountains of agricultural data every day, we have scientists and universities working on crop genetics, and we’re constantly improving robotics engineering.

If more people around the country step-up and throw their hat in the ring to figure this out, it’s not at all outside the realm of possibility. We were the first country to land on the moon. There’s no reason to think we won’t be the first country to put a person on Mars.

Leave a Reply

Regions Stories
AmericasMFA Precision Head Talks Precision Ag, Cover Crops at 2018 4R Summit
June 18, 2018
Although implicit to anyone that spends a good chunk of their career in agriculture, the link between advanced precision technology Read More
David-Perry-featured-image
AmericasIndigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&D’
June 13, 2018
Indigo, the Boston-based microbial crop technology startup that has raised more than $400 million, announced it is expanding its research Read More
Munckhof Machinefabriek equipment
EuropeEurope: Precision Farming at Heart of Munckhof Deal
June 11, 2018
One of Europe’s oldest suppliers of machinery used in fruit production, the Dutch firm Munckhof Machinefabriek, has been purchased by Read More
Australian-Farmers
Australia/New ZealandCrunching the Ag-Tech Numbers Saves Time for Australian Farm
June 5, 2018
Time management is key on the Walker family’s farm, where a mix between cropping, commercial sheep and two studs means Read More
Trending Articles
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportunities
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key to Transforming Global Agriculture
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
InfoAg ConferenceThe InfoAg Conference Offers Early Bird Registration Discount
May 24, 2018
Since 1995, The InfoAg Conference has been the premier event for discussion and advancement of precision agriculture. The event, organized Read More
Ernie-Chappell-Screenshot
EventsEFC Systems Sponsorship Demonstrates Commitment to Continuing Education for Retail Dealerships
May 16, 2018
Enterprise software manufacturer EFC Systems, scholarship sponsor of the inaugural PrecisionAg® Professional Accelerator professional development conference this June in Brookings, Read More
EventsMeister Media Debuts Growing Innovations
May 10, 2018
As a service provider, you and your grower customers probably can agree on this much: While innovation abounds in agriculture, Read More
UCANR_booth_Food_IT_forum
EventsForum Calling All Innovators of Agriculture Technology
May 2, 2018
The challenges that come with feeding the world continue to grow. Luckily, so do advances in information technology that are Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsRaven Launching CR12 Field Computer in Europe this Week
June 19, 2018
Raven Industries announced the release of a new, larger field computer: the CR12. Utilizing the same functionality as the CR7 Read More
dropcopter
DronesNew York Apple Orchard Claims World First in Pollinatio…
June 18, 2018
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette, NY, is the first orchard in the world to use drones to pollinate Read More
Farmer with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareAgrian Enhances Field Scouting App
June 18, 2018
Agrian has added a new feature to its robust field scouting app – a pest trap counting solution. The new Read More
AmericasMFA Precision Head Talks Precision Ag, Cover Crops at 2…
June 18, 2018
Although implicit to anyone that spends a good chunk of their career in agriculture, the link between advanced precision technology Read More
Iron Man
UncategorizedAgFunder News: Forget Self-Driving Tractors; Agricultur…
June 18, 2018
Marvel’s Iron Man suit might seem an unlikely source of inspiration for growers, writes Joseph Byrum on AgFunderNews.com. Once the Read More
Soil-Corn-plants-field
Data ManagementRemote Soil-Sensed Management Zones Help Increase Crop …
June 18, 2018
Accurate prescription maps are essential for effective variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer application. Grid soil sampling is frequently used to Read More
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportu…
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
computer-in-field
Business Management3 Questions to Ask When Looking for Your First Job in P…
June 18, 2018
Let me begin this column by extending my congratulations to all of my fellow students who have just graduated – Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversStine Seed Plunks Down $5 Million on Smart Ag’s D…
June 14, 2018
Stine Seed Farm has invested $5 million in Smart Ag Inc., an Iowa technology firm that has developed a full Read More
David-Perry-featured-image
AmericasIndigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&…
June 13, 2018
Indigo, the Boston-based microbial crop technology startup that has raised more than $400 million, announced it is expanding its research Read More
Ag Drone
EventsAgTech Conference of the South Dedicated to Innovation,…
June 12, 2018
Join current and emerging agtech business leaders and investors at the AgTech Conference of the South, a premiere conference dedicated Read More
Munckhof Machinefabriek equipment
EuropeEurope: Precision Farming at Heart of Munckhof Deal
June 11, 2018
One of Europe’s oldest suppliers of machinery used in fruit production, the Dutch firm Munckhof Machinefabriek, has been purchased by Read More
Australian-Farmers
Australia/New ZealandCrunching the Ag-Tech Numbers Saves Time for Australian…
June 5, 2018
Time management is key on the Walker family’s farm, where a mix between cropping, commercial sheep and two studs means Read More
Drone-exhbitor-at-Drone-Show
AmericasDroneShow Highlights UAV Technology in Latin America
June 4, 2018
Editor’s note: The DroneShow Latin America is an annual trade fair hosted by MundoGEO, a media and communications company founded Read More
Imagery/SensingImagery in Agriculture: Time for a Reality Check
June 4, 2018
Where do I begin….I’ve been dealing with imagery in agriculture since I was 10 when my dad started Satshot. At Read More
AmericasNAAA Issues Drone Pilot Reminder: Watch Out For Aerial …
May 31, 2018
With more than 1 million UAVs registered with the FAA, it is vitally important for UAV operators to be aware Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key t…
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
CROO Robotics’ automated strawberry harvester
Specialty CropsGrowingProduce.com: Fruit Growers, It’s Time to Mechani…
May 30, 2018
If you’re into conspiracies, you might be interested to know that I have stumbled onto a doozy. And it looks Read More