As I sat in a board room in Minneapolis, I used a break in my meeting to check the moisture of the soil on my farm in New Zealand. I didnt walk into a field and dig a hole or stick a meter into the dirt. en comptes, I pulled out my phone, looked at its screen, and saw what my sensors were saying.

At the farm in New Zealand.

Fellow Global Farmer Network board member V Ravichandran was checking his phone as well. Ravi was looking at photos of his cotton crop that had just been sent to him from his farm in Tamil Nadu India. Ravi checked the photos and sent a reply e-mail to India with his observation and actions required.

This is what modern agriculture looks like: Its global, its high-tech, and its all about sustainable conservation.

On my farm, we grow a wide range of crops: carrot seeds, radish seeds, chicory, wheat, and even the species of ryegrass that covers American baseball fields. Some of our products stay at home but most of it leaves our island. The entirety of our carrot-seed crop, per exemple, ships to Holland for worldwide distribution.

Despite this diversity, the crops we plant all depend on the same set of natural resources, from sunlight in the sky to nutrients in the ground. Our most precious resource, malgrat això, may be water. Although it varies by region, Sobre 70 percent of the worlds freshwater is invested in agricultureand without its careful management, we cant supply the planet with the food it needs.

So every drop counts.

Craige and Martin Pasman from Argentina (at left) during the 2014 Taula Rodona Global Farmer. Pasman is also very involved with water issues and conservation.

I check my soils moisture levels every day, examining the data from probes which have sensors every 10 cm down the length of the probe. This allows me to keep track of the health of both shallow-rooted crops and long-season crops in a variety of conditions.

Every day and each section of farmland is different. Rain comes and goes. Some acres hold more water than others. Slope and elevation play an important role. With GPS and electromagnetic technology, we produce detailed maps of our soil.

We gather all of this information and study it, learning which areas need water and which dont. Then we plan our water use, making sure that nothing goes to waste.

Rather than drenching whole fields, like a water sprinkler that runs for hours on a suburban backyard, we customize our delivery. Our pivot-irrigation system sends exactly the right amount of water to just the right place, spreading the water like dots on a carpet.

Now were also looking at our fertilizer use with sensors that detect nitrates, potassium, and phosphorus.

We started our aggressive resource management eight years ago, and our high-tech irrigation began six years ago. As time marches on, and we generate more data on what our soil wants and our crops need, well get better and better at conservation.

Our goal is for no water to leave the root zones of our crops. We dont want any of our water to quench the thirst of weeds, run off our land, or evaporate into the air or our waterways.

If moisture levels drop too low, my farm lets me know with an emergency text or email. This allows us solve problems as they emerge, rather than after its too late.

All of this helps us grow more food. One of the major benefits of precision irrigation is that our crops mature at the same time, adding to the quality of what we grow as well as to our yield. Were seeing nice, neat results.

We continue to look for new ways to adapt technology to agriculture. Weve even started launching drones, flying them over our fields to look at the health of our plants from above. From my tablet, I can tell them where to fly and from what angle to take their pictures. These views give me another way to assess how theyre doing.

Fa uns anys, drones were too expensive and their cameras werent good enough for agricultural use. Recently, malgrat això, theyve come down in price and theyve also improved, with affordable high-definition cameras. Im still getting used to thembut pretty soon, theyll become ordinary tools of farming, just like tractors.

Farming may be one of the worlds oldest professions, but were taking it into the 21st century, as we meet the twin demands of growing more food and conserving our limited resources.