Blog #620 – Causes of Death for Seniors

Aging – Part IV
Eventually, I will die (and you too!!!)

Facing the inevitable (the only sure things are death and taxes).

Yes, someday I will die. So, here are the top causes of death over 65
-1 Heart Disease
Heart disease, including heart failure, heart attack, and heart arrhythmia, can cause your heart to beat ineffectively and impair circulation. These conditions are associated with or caused by, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking, along with an improper diet, lack of exercise and family history.

As we have seen before, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking are listed – and also improper diet and lack of exercise. So … changing your diet and adding exercise can help the risks of heart disease

-2 Cancer
Cancer is the # 2 cause of death for those over 65 – be it lung cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer or skin cancer (or other).

-3 Lung problems
Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) is the #3 cause of death. These include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As COPD progresses, you have to work harder and harder to catch your breath, often feeling like you’re suffocating.
More than 50 percent of people who have it don’t even know they do. Early detection is a simple, non-invasive breathing test called spirometry and key to good outcomes. 
[Note – get the spirometry test!!!]

-4 Stroke
Stroke is a clot or blockage that cuts off blood flow to the brain. And – guess what, diabetes and high blood pressure can be contributing factors to a stroke!!

-5 Alzheimer’s 
While we have talked about Alzheimer’s (yesterday actually), it is the #5 cause of death.

-6 Diabetes
Diabetes can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, wounds that take a long time to heal, and more. AND – from a few days ago, I wrote about being able to lessen the risks for diabetes with diet and exercise!!

-7 Pneumonia (and flu)
And … contributing factors can be diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory problems

-8 Accidents
Seniors are at a higher risk of accidents – especially falling. While some accidents might not directly kill you-you might not be able to exercise because of broken hips and bad knees – which can lead to heart disease

OVERALL – diet and exercise; diet and exercise; diet and exercise!!!!

Get up and get moving!!!

Bruce

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Blog #619 Alzheimer’s

Aging Ailments – part II

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/prevention

The second disease I want to discuss is Alzheimer’s – a devastating mental illness that can make the person lose most of their memories, even to not recognizing the children and other friends.

While Alzheimer’s is not totally preventable, but this article suggests some processes that can lower risks.  

The linked article states “Though research is still evolving, evidence is strong that people can reduce their risk by making key lifestyle changes, including participating in regular activity and maintaining good heart health.”

Another article stated “One out of three cases of Alzheimer’s may be preventable if that person does everything right,” said the director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell & New York-Presbyterian in New York City.

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests these lifestyle changes:

-1 Get exercise.  Studies indicate that exercise helps increase blood flow to the brain

-2 Get smart.  Formal education also has been shown to help reduce the risk of  cognitive decline. The association suggests taking classes at a community college.

-3 Stop smoking.  Smoking can harm mental processes.

-4 Take care of your body and your heart. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes negatively affect your mental health.

-5 No concussions. Wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet when riding your bike or playing contact sports.

-6 Watch your diet – the association suggests the Mediterranean Diet – with more fruits and vegetables and lower in fats.  

-7 Be sure to get your sleep.  Enjoy sleep is important to health

-8 Be active socially. Find ways to be social – volunteer, sing in a choir, be activity in groups.

-9 Challenge your brain.  Do crosswords, do jigsaw puzzles (using eye and hand senses), play bridge (or other games that challenge your brain, learn a language, find ways to think critically and solve problems solving.

While research is still going on in regards to Alzheimer’s illness, these suggestions seem pretty strong in their recommendations for lessening the risks.

So – diabetes can be reduced (yesterday’s post), and Alzheimer’s risks can be reduced (today’s blog).  

If you really want a nice, happy and productive, long life, and if you are pre-diabetic (or diabetic), out of shape, watching too much television and not being challenged, then think about changing your life styles.  

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog #618 Aging and Diabetes

Aging illnesses – Diabetes:

Hi friends!!!  This is a third in a series on aging.  For seniors, it is a look at the pitfalls and traps ahead of us; for non-seniors it might be a nudge to action now.

Illnesses:

There are a plethora of illnesses for seniors.  Many (if not most) come from our own fault. Let’s look at one of the illnesses that can be reversed

Diabetes:

From the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control):

“More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population –have diabetes.”

Problems of diabetics include:
Risk of Stroke
Loss of consciousness
Extreme thirst
Visual disturbances
Cataracts and glaucoma
Risk of Heart Disease
Risk of infections
Fatigue and lack of energy
High Blood pressure
And more
(https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/effects-on-body#2)

BUT … there is good news (actually great news):

A radical low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, even six years into the disease, a new study has found. … A new study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities shows that the disease can be reversed by losing weight, so that sufferers no longer have to take medication and are free of the symptoms and risks.

(https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/05/radical-diet-can-reverse-type-2-diabetes-new-study-shows)

So … what are you waiting for?  Do you really want diabetes? NO!!!  So, reduce those calories!!!!

[Note, in 2013 I retired from Quinnipiac University and and started at the University of Texas.  I had low energy and had “energy bars” in my desk drawer. But, I found I liked the energy bars that were coated in chocolate.  I worked hard – and put on the pounds. My doctor said I was pre-diabetic. I immediately cut white sugar and white flour out of my diet (you can’t quite remove all sugar from some products).  Within 3 months I had lost over 30 pounds.]

Yes, I love my sweets (both naturally and maybe because my parents owned a candy shop for several years when I was a boy).  Ice Cream? Of course!!! BUT … I know that a change in diet will greatly benefit me in the long run.

So, how about you?  Headed to diabetes? Change your life!!  Change your diet (and get more activity!!!)

More tomorrow!!!

Bruce

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Blog #617 Aging and value – part II

Aging Ails – part II

Yesterday we talked about being of value. Another way of saying that is ‘being needed’. So, how can a 90-year-old person be ‘needed’?

A 90-year-old probably isn’t going to mow grass, paint the house, shovel snow or do very much on the physical side. But, an 88-year-old is making million dollar investments frequently. He is appreciated for his advice and direction By a recent analysis, he is the third richest man in the world at 84.9 BILLION dollars. He seems to be in good physical shape (and, maybe, he if had to, he could mow the grass).

That person is Warren Buffett. The “Oracle of Omaha”. Some websites report (or suggest) that Buffett’s diet is junk food and cherry coke. While I don’t know that for sure, it seems like he is relatively healthy. Is he of value to others? Absolutely. Is he needed by his company? Sure is!!

In yesterday’s scenario, I talked of an older man in a nursing home with a son who rarely visits. He is depressed. He feels he has no value, nobody ‘needs’ him. He knows he is dying – and living in a nursing home, watching TV 14 hours a day does little to stimulate a person’s brain. He wants to die.

The original question was how can a 90-year-old person be needed? Let’s think about that.

If the person was close (physically and socially) to his son, he could be visited almost every day. He could talk to his grandson about his service in Korea; about his first television set; about his wife (who was the boy’s grandmother). He could tell stories from his youth. He could get to the grandson’s baseball games and soccer games. The older man could take short walks with his son, daughter-in-law and/or grandson. (And, be of value and needed by his family).

If the older man in the scenario had not had health problems he could volunteer at schools, food banks, to read to other (less-healthy) people in assisted living or nursing homes. He would have to find some value in his life. He could watch his grandson (and/or grandchildren) grow, graduate from high school and college and marry.

I am now retired. I read to two first graders on Tuesdays; I am an adult mentor to a sixth-grade boy on Thursday; I am a Stephen Minister to a 52-year-old man who had a heart attack and has been depressed. I have meetings on three nights a week. I tutor three students every week in math. I wish I had more time with my grandchildren, but that will happen. I have value, I am needed, and because I have value and am needed – my depression (from my major surgery) has lessened.

Seniors – yesterday and today, I have written about being of value and needed. It is up to you to find where you have value. If your family doesn’t value you, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities. Keep healthy, keep busy, avoid depression and find your value!!!
Are you needed? Do you have value to somebody? If not, work on it!!

Bruce

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Blog #616 Aging and Value

Aging Ills – Value

Value is defined as “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.”

For the next several days, we are going to explore aging.  These thoughts come from me, from memories of people that I have known (or know).  

-1 Today we are looking at a person’s value

All people need to be valued.  But, seniors are not always valued as human beings should be.  

I have been to nursing homes, to care centers, to shut-ins, to dementia wards, and to high end retirement centers.  I want to talk about a scenario first:

In some of nursing homes I visited, there were patients who NEVER had visitors – or the visitors they had were only there a few minutes.  

Scenario:

One nursing home of my memories the patient (male) had a son who lived in a different state.  I assume that son was a good man, who had a family and career of his own. I pictured the son (who I never met) as a business executive – having a lot of responsibilities, a very full agenda.  I picture this son spending 60 hours a week on business work, but making time for his family. I see him on a date night with his wife, going to his son’s baseball (or soccer games).  I see him sitting in a church on a Sunday (when he could make it).  And, I also see guilt in his life – he ‘KNOWS’ he needs to visit his dad, he wants to visit his dad, but it seems like visiting his dad just doesn’t mesh with his life.

When the son comes to visit, he has to fly in from his home location – I picture a Saturday in his full schedule.  It basically is a day to fly in, stop and visit as soon as he gets to the dad’s state. The son visits and reads with his dad, watches TV with the dad, talks about his family, how the old man’s grandson is doing, how his work is doing, how his wife is doing.  He stays and has dinner at the nursing home and visits until bedtime and heads to a motel. At the motel, he pulls out his laptop and works on business ideas until he is so exhausted that he has to sleep.

On the next morning (a Sunday in my thoughts); the son shows up at breakfast at the nursing home.  He might help his father eat the breakfast, sits and talks with him. Maybe there is a worship service or maybe not, the son stays with his dad until he has to leave to catch the last plane back to his home.  For that weekend, he has focused on his dad, and spent time with him.

Back in his world, it is six months again before he can make the trip to see his dad.  The son might call, might send letters, notes or even simple presents. But, it is not the same as being physically with his father.

The dad, if thinking clearly, knows that his son is busy, that his son has responsibilities and activities, but feels lonely.  The dad thinks he has little value to anybody. Many times the older man wishes he was dead. He might even pray (if he is a praying person) for death.

He might say “why am I living, I have no value to anybody, I would be better off dead.”  The father goes into depression; maybe he eats less because he is depressed, he plays bingo with the group, but it is only a ‘ho-hum’ activity.  Like others on his floor, he watched TV 14 hours a day. He doesn’t really care what is on, the TV is like a companion in the room.

So …

Do older people have value?  (My answer – ABSOLUTELY YES).  How can we (younger) convey the message to seniors that they do have value?  I have said many times that ‘love’ is spelled ‘T I M E’. The son in the story tried to visit his dad but it was difficult for him.  Maybe the son could help move his dad to a facility nearer him and then be able to visit him at least weekly.  Maybe his wife and his son could visit too. Maybe if the older man was able, to get him to one of the grandson’s baseball or soccer games; maybe if the older man was able, to get him out of the nursing home occasionally – for a walk or push in a wheelchair – around the block.  

My uncle is 95, and his wife is 96.  They live independently. It is hard to call him to visit as he is very hard of hearing.  I try to send letters and pictures of my/our grandchildren occasionally. They do get out daily and go to a central facility for meals – and socialization.  My uncle is gregorius, but with the hearing problems he is going more and more into a shell. He has value. He can talk about his life experiences and his work.  He can talk about his involvement in World War II. He is a warm and generous person (as is his wife). He has value.

Some cultures (namely the Chinese) revere this parents and ancestors.  They frequently will bring them into their homes to honor them and make them part of their family.  

To my senior friends – do you feel you have value?  To my non-senior friends, do you visit your parents (if they are alive) with some regularity?  Do you visit other seniors that you know from your childhood or church or community group? Do you let them know they are of value?

What do you think?

More tomorrow!!

Bruce

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Blog #615 Breaking out of your comfort zone – part III

Breaking out of your comfort zone – part III
https://www.success.com/10-ways-to-overcome-fear-and-break-out-of-your-comfort-zone/

We have been looking at comfort zones – and looking at why we need to leave comfort zones to grow as a human bean. Today, five more ways to overcome fear and break out of your comfort zone

-6 Ask the question other people don’t like to ask.
If you really want to grow, you need to find out about things. Hopefully, not everybody around you are ‘yes-men’ (or sycophants). You need to know about more than just the comfort zone. Asking tough questions will help you grow and more outside the comfort zone.

-7 Start conversations with strangers.
Do you strike up conversations with strangers? I do!!! If you are flying on a long flight, a conversation can be interesting – and lead to new insights. Or, if you are in line for the flight can you ask “Where are you heading?”. Might be somebody who is heading to an interesting conference, or somebody in the same industry as you. Every person has a story (or many). How did they get to where they are? Did you overhear a comment the person made to another about anything?

-8 Agree to something you wouldn’t normally consider
I have judged debates, science fairs, cooking contests, and more. I’ve sat in dunk tanks (not one of my favorite things – cold and wet). What things you might like if you said “yes” to something. You might actually find a new friend – or a new job.

Lately, I’ve been trying to cook. With recipes and plenty of information on the internet, I can find some way to cook the item. And, I’ve been crocheting – again something I might not have tried if my neighbor hadn’t wanted to learn crocheting and gave me the material, I might not have found a new activity.

-9 Get in front of the camera!!
Try making some videos. I have made videos of some of my blogs. There are times of butterflies when I make a video – but they come out okay.

-10 Keep a list of ‘growth goals.
Do you have a bucket list of things you want to accomplish, places you want to see? My trips abroad have opened my eyes to new things. Plus there is a lot of things in the United States I haven’t seen. I’ve been to all states in the United States except Alaska – and that is on my bucket list.

You learn by ‘pushing the envelope’. Turtles only move by sticking their necks out. You can only discover new worlds by leaving the sight of the shore.
Are you ready to ‘fly’; ready to discover new worlds and new concepts? Maybe it is time for you (and me) to break out of your comfort zone.

Bruce

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Post #614 Breaking out of your Comfort Zone – part II

Breaking out of your Comfort Zone – part II

Yesterday we looked at your comfort zone – and WHY you have to challenge yourself; WHY you need to experiment with your life; and WHY you need to get out of your comfort zone.

Today – looking at Success.com – 10 Ways to break out of your comfort zone.

-1 Don’t take anything for granted.

[Aside – I remember a paper from a student once that say “Don’t take anything for Granite”!!]

Are you working SO hard that you just have to assume everything is going well.  How about your marriage? Are you taking your spouse for granted? (I was, and I am sorry).  Or (since I am speaking at a security conference later in the month), are you taking your security (business and personal) for granted.  Have you done an audit of what is important to you? Is everything okay? Take some time this week to see if you are just ‘assuming’ that all is good.

-2 Shake up your routine.  

Do you drive the same way to work?  Come in at the same time? Or might you find some time for distractions?  Can you find time in your busy day to take a friend (or spouse) for coffee (or lunch)?  Can you drop an old friend a quick and happy email? (I had one such note this morning, and it already has made my day).  (Men) Wear a tie to work (just because); (Women) Wear a dress to work (just because). Do something EVERY day to change your routine – to open your eyes to other things out there.  With spring (hopefully) coming soon, take time to smell the flowers – drive past parks, drive past houses to see their flowers. Change up your morning greeting (I sometimes say “Guten Tag” or “Guten Morgen” instead of ‘Good Morning’.  Maybe it is time to eat some sauerkraut – ‘just because. (or oysters or something that is rare in your dietary agenda). Take your spouse to something ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ – go to a craft show, take in a different movie, try a different cuisine (just because)!!

-3 Move towards your fears.

Moving towards your fears is a great way to break out of your comfort zone.  If you are scared of speaking in public, find a safe place to do so – and go for it!!  Are you scared of some new technology, find a way to test ‘drive’ it (kick the tires if you will).  Go for it!!!

I know little about wine (not that I really want to be a wine expert), but there are social settings where I should know something about wines.  See if your local wine retailer has a tasting night. (So, do I have white wine with fish and red with beef?)

-4 Give up control.

The author writes of giving up some of his control (in his case, hiring somebody to do the social media).  Let your spouse handle the tax preparation this year. (Women – if you generally cook) Let your husband cook sometimes.  [I’ve been cooking some – and am realizing all that my wife has done in the kitchen for 44+ years]. You really can’t do it all – so yield control in some areas.

-5 Try something new until you feel comfortable

Have you ever done line dancing?  Try it. Have you ever gone to one of the painting evenings?  Try it. Have you ever tried to have coffee with one new person every week?  Try it. Take somebody from a different culture or ethnic background to lunch and get to know them.  Play on an group volleyball team (there are leagues that are for the ‘slow and older’ folks). Become your child’s scout leader or coach.  Try it!!

More tomorrow – but even today – try something different.

Bruce

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Post #613 Breaking out your comfort zone – part 1

Break out of your comfort zone!!!

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-reasons-why-your-comfort-zone-holding-you-back-life.html

We all have comfort zones.  Things that we do with regularity, that are familiar to us – that we are comfortable with doing.

First from the linked article, why we need to get out of the comfort zone.

-1 You never will discover your real self if you don’t try other things

-2 If it is almost impossible to learn if you are stuck in a rut (aka, your comfort zone)

-3 If you stay in your comfort zone when faced with difficulties, you don’t grow as a person

-4 When life becomes routine, you lose part of yourself.

-5 You get lost when you follow the crowd.

-6 The unknown is where dreams are made.

I like the picture of a sailboat passing by a shore, and the caption “You can not discover new lands unless you lose sight of the shore”.  You need to go places and try new things.

In their early 80’s, my parents left their hometown and moved to Michigan.  They moved away from friends, their mall-walking buddies, their church to a new location near my sister.  They moved out of their comfort zone – found new friends, new people to walk with at a different mall, different people to play cards with, a new church and new places to go.

I had three wonderful working opportunities.  The first place was fantastic. I was helping kids from small towns, farms, and even the one large city in South Dakota find new life in information systems.  I was happy there. But, an opportunity came to move to Connecticut. That also was a fantastic place – and I got out of my comfort zone. I got to Europe, took students to Ireland twice, had a Fulbright Exchange experience with a visiting professor from Belarus and then as a visitor to Belarus. And, I helped kids from suburbs and cities find new life in information systems. Then, as our daughter had twins in Texas, I (we) retired to Texas for two purposes – be grandpa and to teach at the University of Texas.  This was another fantastic opportunity. I had been willing to get out of my comfort zone.

In retirement, I find that I am not getting out of my comfort zone enough.  Recently I took up crochet (and going to the local knitting group at the library).  I am cooking more (with permission of my wife). But, I know I need to get out of my comfort zone.  

The six points above say ‘you have to get out of your comfort zone’ to learn and grow.

How about you?

Tomorrow, ways to get out of your comfort zone!!

Bruce

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Blog #612 I want a Unicorn (or two)

AI:  I want a unicorn (or two)!!!

https://www.information-management.com/opinion/shopping-for-ai-talent-beware-of-unicorns/

Bruce:  I want a unicorn

Friend:  Umm. Bruce do you know there aren’t such things as unicorns?

Bruce:  Yeah, I know that.  But I still want one!

Unicorns are mythical beasts, beautiful, with one-horn off their top of their heads.  

But, they don’t exist.

And … like unicorns, Artificial Intelligence experts (with 15 years of experience) don’t exist either.  

As new technologies come along, businesses demand staff with the new expertise.  When Big Data was a hot topic, a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) couldn’t find a real Big Data expert; as Health Information Systems developed, hospitals, health insurance companies and others wanted to hire experienced Health Information Specialists – and there were a few (very few) that met that need.

As the linked article says companies are eager to hire one person with the following skills:

-AI – Chief data scientists were expected to have highly advanced statistical skill, computer science skill, and some business expertise in the area they would work.


-AI -Chief data officers were expected to have deep information science, data architecture, data governance, digital solutions, and business expertise.


-AI – Chief digital officers were expected to lead business transformation, solution architecture, and have strong analytics and data experience.


-AI – AI engineers are expected to be able to develop expertly witin information science, data management, integration, application development, and have knowledge of the use and application of machine learning in solutions.

It is like hiring an experienced airline pilot but being willing to only pay $1 per hour.  It just doesn’t happen – just like hiring a unicorn (or two). They don’t exist. (And, if you find some candidate that is close and you hire that person – enjoy their skills quickly as they will be hired away for more money or more benefits!!)

So, your company really wants to get into AI.  You can’t find an expert to meet your needs.

In most cases you need to hire smart – and train, promote, work with your own people.  You need to create teams to tackle artificial intelligence – but also know YOUR business.  Even if you find a unicorn that is skilled in machine learning and agriculture applications of AI, but doesn’t know and understand banking and financial services, you still will have to help that person get on board.

So (from the article):

-1 Break down your talent needs

-2 Organize into logical groups and functions

-3 Give these people career paths (so you can keep them)

-4 Develop natural collaborative efforts and teams

-5 Avoid the unicorn hiring – they will take a while to come up to speed

-6 If you need to get going quicker – hire an expert as a consultant.  (And ‘milk’ them to supplement the knowledge of your people.)

BUT … if you still want to hire a unicorn – I’m available.  After all, I have written on AI, followed AI concepts and even have programming expert systems!!  (My PhD dissertation was an expert system for advising college students). Yes, I am available. My rate is $300 per hour, with a minimum contract of at least two months (or about 360 hours) 108,000 for those two months!!!

Bruce

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Blog #611 AI and Agriculture

Artificial Intelligence and Farming

https://www.techopedia.com/the-6-most-amazing-ai-advances-in-agriculture/2/33177

Humans need to eat.  Food is produced by farmers.

This article looks at some of the ways technology and artificial intelligence (AI) is assisting farmers.

Farming is really changing and adapting.  

Let’s start at the end of farming – the harvest.  Robots (or robotic devices) are picking berries and vegetables.  Equipped with computer vision (like autonomous cars), and sensor devices (to see if the item is ripe enough for picking).  

Let’s talk about harvesting apples.  With computer (or machine) vision, the robotic apple can identify apples from branches, leaves and other items.  With precision machine hands it can gently pick the apples with pinching, bruising or damaging the apples and depositing the apples into a container storage unit.  Yes, humans can do the same – but humans need breaks, and the repetitive motion of picking apples can negatively impact human bodies (knees, arms, etc.). When picking apples (and other fruit) at a ‘pick your own’ place in the past, it was rare to come home without some cuts and abrasions from reaching into the trees.  Even with ladders, it sometimes was hard to get safely to the top of a tree to pluck a ripe apple or under the lower branches to get the fruit. Although the technology is expensive, after purchase the maintenance is generally low (and thus the expenses are low). If I was picking apples I would want to get paid by the apple or by the hour, robotic apple picking devices don’t get paid.  In the long run, the harvesting costs will decrease.

Sowing crops.  With sensors (including satellite optics, soil analysis and more), computerized planting machines will know when they are planting if that area is good soil or not, and be able to adjust the planting rates accordingly.  Weeding machines can cruise down a row of corn or soybeans and identify weeds accurately (and spray selected weeds, not the whole field).

Drones can fly over fields with cameras after fields have been planted and identify problems.  

They can also identify weeds and pest problems.

Likewise with insect and other pest control.  Imaging can identify damage on corn leaves that can interact with pest control methods.  

Rainfall can also be variable.  Although we may think that a rain shower over a field will put a consistent and constant amount of water on the plants, but that is not totally correct.  Some areas might receive more rain that other areas in the same (huge) field.

Other machine vision devices can identify individual cows precisely and find issues with individual cows (such as lameness).   For dairy cattle, analysis of individual cows production of milk can help the farmer to determine when a specific cow is ready to be ‘thinned’ out of the herd.  

With accurate long range weather forecasting and weather models, a farmer may opt to irrigate – or not – depending on the accuracy of forecasts.

So, the farm is becoming even more efficient.

What do you think?

Bruce

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