One of the highlights of the Iowa State Fair every year is the Century and Heritage Farm award program, which recognizes farms that have been owned by the same family for more than 100 or 150 years.

You can see the immense pride as multiple generations of farm families pack up and make the journey to Des Moines to receive their award. It truly is a lifetime achievement.

You can bet none of those farms look the same as they did a century ago. Innovation is the key to survival, now and in the future.

Consider that mass-produced general-purpose tractors were just beginning to hit the market in the 1920s, and according to Living History Farms, the amount of tractor power didn’t overtake the amount of physical power provided by actual horses and mules on American farms until 1945.

It makes you wonder what the next 100 years will look like.

Some of the latest agriculture technology and innovations will be on display this week at the Farm Progress Show in Boone.

Exhibitors will showcase driverless tractors, a drone-like aerial vehicle that can accommodate a human passenger, virtual fencing systems for cattle and more. If virtual fences ever become mainstream, the chore of “fixing fence” would take on a whole new meaning, although it might be equally frustrating.  

But no matter how technology changes farming as we know it today, Iowa’s family farmers will remain at the heart of sustainably producing food, fuel and fiber for the next 100 years and beyond.