The population of Lincoln, Nebraska will surge considerably next week as thousands of people from across the region swarm the state’s capital for the 2013 Nebraska Power Farming Show, where they will gawk at big iron and futuristic gadgets from the top agricultural companies in the world.
Growers and ranchers from states like Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas will rub shoulders with those from Nebraska at the Lancaster Event Center on December 10-12, as they flow between the booths of the 1,000-plus ag-related exhibitors who will be presenting at the nation’s second largest indoor farm show.
That one location is of course Lincoln. Those traveling from out of state won’t have any trouble finding the show once they arrive safely in town since the Lancaster Event Center is conveniently located right off of Interstate-80. Nearby visitors will find comfortable lodging, memorable dining experiences, and other fun activities for people of all ages. That is, of course, when they aren’t busy enjoying the excitement of the 2013 Nebraska Power Farming Show, where parking, admission and awesome ag sights are all free to the public.
The Chicago Farmers annual Farmland Investment Fair has been rebranded for 2014 as simply “The Farmland Fair” with a continued focus on the connection of social media and farmland investment.
The Chicago Farmers 2014 Farmland Fair – “Where People Come To Learn, Connect and Understand Farmland” – will be held on February 1, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Joliet Junior College’s Weitendorf Ag Facility. The Fair will feature social media expert Jeff Korhan, author of “Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business,” which delivers proven methods for converting social marketing best practices into profitable outcomes. Korhan is a small business marketing specialist who helps businesses use social media and internet marketing to create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth.
Farmland Fair co-chairman Jeff Martin notes that The Chicago Farmers organization has been helping people with an interest in farmland connect face-to-face with each other since 1935. “This year we’re going to teach people how to connect and learn about farmland on-line and further increase their business opportunities on the farm,” said Martin, who is a past president of The Chicago Farmers, a farmer from Mount Pulaski, Illinois and nationally-recognized expert on conservation practices. Interview with Jeff Martin, The Chicago Farmers
Another ag based company who attended this year’s Trade Talk at the recent NAFB Convention was the Climate Corporation. They are focused on applying data science to production agriculture and take all the environmental data, weather, soil conditions and current and seasonal projections and apply it to the production agricultural decisions growers make on a daily basis.
Greg Smirin, CEO of The Climate Corporation, sat down with me during the event to talk about some new products they are offering growers and what changes customers might see with the Monsanto acquisition.
“We help protect the grower from things they cannot control with our total weather insurance, crop insurance and we are rolling out for the season Climate Basic and Climate Pro, which helps the farmer make decisions throughout the growing season to boost profitability.”
Climate Basic and Climate Pro will use data science to change agriculture. The basic program is a free web and mobil service and will provide hyper-local weather on each of the fields a grower has. A grower gets projected growth stages, soil moisture tracking, alerts along with scouting and notes. The pro version comes with a fee, but growers get everything the basic provides with an advisor for planting, nitrogen, pest and disease, harvest and in variable rates.
There is no doubt the company provides a service for growers that can increase profitability by over $100 per acre. Recently, the company was acquired by Monsanto. The two companies have found that they are doing the same science based research. The Climate Corporation will continue to operate independently with growers, but they are now able to leverage the research that has come out of Monsanto’s labs.
Consumers want to see a face of where their food comes from and that is one thing the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has tried to provide. USFRA was on-hand during NAFB’s Trade Talk and Cindy spoke with them about their desire to continually start the conversations about food and farming across the country.
Lisa Lunz, USFRA Board Member, has been involved with all aspects of the organization’s endeavors. She is a corn and soybean producer from Northeast Nebraska. Her involvement on the Nebraska Soybean board is what lead her to USFRA. In the short time USFRA has been in existence, Lisa is truly proud of the dialogue they have been able to start and the wide-spread conversations people are having about the food they eat and produce. She describes USFRA as a movement not an organization, because change doesn’t happen over night. The success of the Food Dialogues is a testament to the need for these conversations to take place globally.
“We need to acknowledge consumers questions, answer those questions and give them an opportunity to understand what we do.”
The latest USFRA outreach activity was the release of trailer and website for the new film Farmland. The documentary is a work in progress. Director James Moll, has interviewed, conducted research and is now almost ready to announce the families featured in the film. This winter the film will be finalized and sent to film festivals. The coveted national debut will come in March 2014. The film is supported by USFRA, but not a USFRA production.
“Part of the reason why we thought this project was so important was because there are a lot of documentaries out there about a lot of different subjects, but there is not one about the next generation of farming. I think they have found a great director, that is a great listener and wanted to learn more too. As he went out and interviewed these famers and ranchers he has had an opportunity to learn also. He is an award winning director and so it has given us a great opportunity to create something that hopefully we can use as an educational tool and something that will spark conversations about food.”
“The cotton market this year used a new product called Display. It’s a harvest aid material. What we do is after the cotton is mature we put it on and take the leaves off the cotton. It normally takes two applications of product to do that. We use Display along with a boll opener with the first application and after that we come back with another FMC product called Aim to finish. We call it to take in the skirt off the cotton and then in about 10 days the harvesting equipment can come into the field and begin picking the cotton.”
Bentley has been an agricultural consultant for 40 years and still lives on the farm he was born on. He started in the private sector and has done contract work with FMC for about the last 20 years. He also welcomes around 50,000 guests to his farm each year where he focuses on agritourism. Guests can take part in holiday activities such as picking pumpkins and finding their own Christmas tree.
Bentley remembers the time when they were only concerned about controlling crab grass. But it didn’t take long for the cotton fields in the South to start to see the appearance of weeds. He shared that the entire South was consumed with cotton fields, soybeans were simply used for hay and corn was used to feed the animals on the farm.
“We’ve gone from big cotton to very little cotton in the mid-South and a multi-crop culture. We’ve gone to banding herbicides to broadcast herbicides. We’ve gone from cotton gins baling six bales an hour to cotton gins that will bale 75-100 per hour. And we’ve gone from cotton being picked by human beings to six row pickers. There have been great changes in agriculture in our area since I was a kid.”
To Bentley the 80′s brought about the most change for the mid-South region. Farmers started using precision technology to level land for drainage and irrigation purposes. Today weather doesn’t affect area as much as it did in the past. During that era the usage of herbicides and then pesticides were more widely seen and then at the tail end of the 80′s farmers began to see GMO’s come on to the scene.
Big farms or small farms? Does using technology in agriculture mean its bad? These are just some of the questions consumers are trying to find answers to when it comes to agriculture and food production.
During the recent Food Dialogues event in Boston, there were a lot of different types of farming operations represented – but the one common theme that came from the farmer panelist was that all types of agriculture are needed to continue to feed and fuel the world.
In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology, we’ll find out why using technology in agriculture is okay and how the industry is working to help consumers understand that.
Over a year ago we talked about a new technology that would allow growers to plant offensive and defensive corn hybrids within the same field. Last year Jason Webster with Beck’s Hybrids planted his first field with the Variable Hybrid Planter. This year he has more trials and more acres.
In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology we’ll find out what they learned from last year and what he’s doing to make farmers excited about the future of agricultural technologies like this one.
Monsanto is encouraging farmers to “Follow-A-Field” in order to learn more about the next innovation in soybean and cotton weed control.
The Follow-A-Field initiative from Monsanto is an interactive experience featured on XtendFollowAField.com that follows three farmers as they take their Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybean fields from burndown through harvest as part of the Monsanto Ground Breakers® Field Trials Under Permit program. The initiative will include testimonials, videos and photos captured from the three growing sites in Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota.
Michelle Vigna, Monsanto Roundup Ready Xtend launch manager, says the goal of the program is to prepare farmers, retailers and applicators to effectively use Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans with a diversified weed management plan such as Roundup Ready PLUS® Weed Management Solutions. “By bringing dicamba tolerance as an option within soybeans, it’s a totally new mode of action for helping manage tough-to-control and resistant weeds,” she said.
Bayer CropScience talked the next generation of farmers during their ag media luncheon at the recent Farm Progress Show. Bayer is looking at the future face of agriculture from the industry, employee and farmer prospective.
Vice President of Commercial Operations for Bayer CropScience, Inci Dannenberg, addressed the crowd and later spoke with Chuck about the importance of the next talent pool, where it will come from and how it will deliver the innovation needed to continue to feed a hungry planet.
“One thing that we are doing is called, “Making Science Make Sense.” It’s a program where Bayer volunteers from all parts of the Bayer to go out to elementary schools and engage young kids in science by doing hands-on, fun experiments. This hopefully insights in them a bit of passion and interest and continue on to look at science in their future.”
“There are numerous areas where knowing science and understanding the science of our population is very critical. One is obvious in the area of innovation and technology. We can’t do what we need to do unless we have folks coming up through the ranks that can provide us that innovation. The other is understanding the importance and value that innovation brings and allowing that innovation to be brought forth. For example, making sure our future legislatures and our future business people understand what it is that agriculture delivers and what modern agriculture is all about.”
There is a data management dilemma facing modern farmers who are collecting and using increasing amounts of digital data to run their operations and precision agriculture extension specialist Dr. John Fulton with Auburn University says addressing data management is a key issue for production agriculture. “Getting data off the machine automatically is the number one barrier that farmers say is keeping them from moving forward in data management,” said Dr. Fulton during a session at last week’s John Deere Product Intro for the media.
Fulton says bigger machines have led to more data. “There’s more to it than guidance systems, it’s rate control, variable rate, section control – all that technology’s built-in,” he said. “But how big is not really the question, it’s the processing that’s really limiting us” and that will need to be addressed on the software level. “Getting it down to where it’s organized, where I can view it, simply bring it up when I’m on the road,” he said. “The key to success is being able to visualize the data.
Dr. Fulton says farmers have told them in surveys that they need wireless data transfer that is automatic, simple and web-based, and they need local support to make it happen and he thinks the introduction of wireless data transfer for MyJohnDeere.com is an example of what is coming.
Jarrod McGinnis, division marketing manager for John Deere, says the new FT4 engine and the transmission options help the 7R Series Tractors offer greater productivity and value to customers.
“These new machines are more fluid efficient and offer increased horsepower for exceptional engine, hydraulic and PTO performance that many customers want in a highly versatile row-crop tractor.”
Besides that, they have some great new comfort and efficiency features, such as the roomy CommandView™ III cab that is quieter due to a laminated front windshield that dampens outside noise. The cab features an operator’s seat that swivels 40-degrees right for easier viewing of rear implements. Other options include the convenience of an in-cab refrigerator and LED lighting package that provides 40 percent greater illumination compared to HID lights.
You will be able to see the new 7R series at Farm Progress Show next week but for now take a ride John Deere manufacturing rep Mark Mohr to check out some of the new features of the 7R series tractors for 2014:
“It’s going great, we’re continuing to gain listeners and we’re continuing to talk,” says one-half of the AgFanatics duo, Cory Winstead, account manager with AgriVisor. They did decide to cut back from two episodes a week to one to avoid having some of the same conversations too often, but he and partner Nick Klump are still having fun with it.
“We’ve gotten some of our best feedback when we’ve spent the first five minutes talking about baseball and our lives and our kids,” Cory said. They have spent a lot of time this year focusing on the weather market for grain, the farm bill and other things that interest farmers, such as crop insurance.
The AgFanatics will be podcasting live from the Farm Progress show this year in Decatur, so be sure to stop by and meet them in person at the GROWMARK tent. You can find the AgFanatics podcast page from the link on the AgriVisor homepage.
Precision farming is all about maximizing profitability for farmers so that should carry over to the marketing of the crop as well.
Grain marketing with precision means diversification and minimizing risk to maximize profitability, and AgriVisor helps farmers do just that. Account manager Cory Winstead says there are several ways they work with farmers. “We work directly with brokerage services and then since 1973 AgriVisor has been putting out general advice with recommendations,” he said. They also work with elevators, offering different products and services that farmers can utilize.
Cory says the grain markets continue to be volatile. “Last year we had the drought which really created volatility in the market,” he said. “This year we still had weather issues like the wet spring … a weather market always creates a lot of volatility.”
The biggest rule for marketing grain is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. “Have a diversified plan,” said Cory. “Know your cost of production so you can make an educated sale at a profitable level.”
That is the simple reason why corn growers support cutting edge conservation practices, according to Illinois farmer Dan Cole, a member of the National Corn Growers Association Production & Stewardship Action Team (PSAT) who took part in the recent Conservation Technology Information Center 2013 Conservation in Action Tour. “PSAT is in charge of water quality and sustainability,” he said. “We also do the corn grower contest, river transportation, but today we’re focused more on soil health.”
“This is cutting edge,” Dan told Chuck Zimmerman during the event. “We went from the mold board plow to the chisel plow, now we’re looking at more sustainable cover crops, no-till, strip till. Everything is to make that organic matter cycle quicker in production agriculture.”
Thanks to the latest farming technology, farmers were able to make amazing planting progress last week, finally starting to catch up to where they should be at this time of year.
According to the latest crop progress report, over 70 percent of projected corn acres had been planted as of last Sunday, while only 28 percent were planted a week prior. While progress lagged behind the five-year average by 37 points last week, the rapid progress closed the gap to only nine points.
Illinois farmers jumped from just 17% planted the week ending May 12 to 74% on May 19, just 3% less than the five year average. “Everybody here is feverishly working,” National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Chairman Garry Niemeyer of Auburn, Illinois told me on Friday as he was busy playing catch up on planting progress. While it has been the longest cold, wet spring that he can remember, Garry says it has really warmed up in the Midwest and he expects the corn to “come flying out of the ground” now.
Planting progress in Iowa increased by 56% from May 12 to 71% on May 19. “Farmers have the technology and the drive to accomplish more in a week than we could have in three only a few decades ago,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a grower in Iowa. “Last week, we knew that we needed a week of drier, warmer weather and, throughout much of the Corn Belt, we got just that.”
Minnesota corn planting progressed by 52 points last week, while Kansas, Michigan, Missouri Nebraska and North Dakota all increased planting progress by more than 40 points. Emergence however is still lagging well behind normal with just 19% emerged nationwide, compared to the 46% average.