Pardon my nostalgia.

Opening day of the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is upon us, and I’m still reflecting on what could have been on October 9, 2009 – the day the fifth worst umpiring call in history robbed my Minnesota Twins of a possible playoff series-tying win over the New York Yankees. Here’s a look.

This year MLB is expanding its use of instant replay to ensure more close calls are resolved correctly, adding a bit of salty salve to my nearly five-year-old wound.

Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has umpired (even a little league game) will tell you it’s not an easy job. I love the inexact, human element of the game I grew up watching and playing. And I don’t blame baseball purists who would rather emphasize continued training for umpires and allow the game to be called as it’s been called for more than a century.

But I have a different philosophy – if technology helps you make the right call, use it.

It’s an approach many of today’s farmers have used to improve their efficiency and protect the environment.

Using Fertilizer Precisely
When you green up your home baseball field this spring, will you first sample every part of your yard for soil fertility, map out your findings, and use an applicator that varies its application rate according to the amount of fertilizer needed for each patch?

Probably not.

But that’s exactly what many farmers do in their fields today.
They use GPS technology to separate their fields into zones and then test each of those zones for soil fertility. That data is fed into a digital map that tells a farmer’s equipment to automatically apply more or less fertilizer as he or she drives through the field – which allows the farmer to only apply the amount of fertilizer that will be used by crops.

Farmers also use precision technology to conserve fuel and reduce erosion.

That’s the equivalent of looking at every angle of a bang-bang play on the base paths in super slow motion.

Umpires Still Matter
Of course we still need umpires (and farmers for that matter). Ultimately, it’s best for living, breathing beings to weigh the evidence on the baseball field or farm and make a decision.

But that’s no reason to ignore tools that allow us to pay closer attention to detail.

Technology or no, progress is a must.

It’s the difference between making a call and making the right one.

By Zach Bader. Zach is the Online Community Manager for Iowa Farm Bureau.