In the last 30 years several advanced technologies including guidance systems, auto-steer systems, variable fertilizer rate systems, and section controllers have become mainstream in modern irrigated agriculture. Although these technologies have become widely accepted under irrigated conditions in the United States, their adoption under dryland conditions has lagged. The purpose of this study was to document the adoption of these technologies in the dryland inland areas of northern Idaho, eastern Washington, and northeastern Oregon. Three mail-based surveys conducted 15 years apart in 1981, 1996, and 2011 were used to document adoption. All of the Dillman-based surveys received grower responses in excess of 50%. In 2011, guidance systems, auto steer systems, section controllers, and variable rate application systems were used by 46.8, 36.6, 25.5, and 20.4% of the survey respondents, respectively. The use of these technologies was less than 2% in 1981 and less than 10% in 1996. The factors of annual precipitation zone, grower age, number of years farmed, and farm size all had an impact on the use of modern technology. In general, variable rate systems were more popular in the drier areas. Younger farmers were more likely to have adopted the new technologies, and new technology use was more widespread on the larger farms.
Impact Statement This article is important because it contains a 30-year history of how quickly modern technologies have been adopted in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. This article is unique because medium-term production changes (20–40 years) are seldom documented by a single research/extension program in production agriculture.