Great American Wheat Harvest Premier

Great American Wheat HarvestThe National Premier Screening of The Great American Wheat Harvest movie took place on National Ag Day in Washington DC this week.

On hand were the stars of the documentary – five custom harvesting operations from around the wheat belt – Jim Deibert; Jim & Tracy Zeorian; Dan, Kristy, & Emma Misener; Lee Petersen; and Eric Wolgemuth.

Listen to an interview with these folks and what went into making this amazing documentary that will be available for national distribution soon:Interview with Custom Harvesters

2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Evolution of Prescription Farming

LGSeeds_logo2012LG Seeds shares the evolution of prescription farming.

When we think about technology advancement over the past 20 years a good example is our electronic devices. Smart phones, hand held tablets, sleeker computers; all these devices having data/software storage by the gigabyte and increasing. We live in a technology driven age with demand for real time information. This technology is common place in our society, but has also incorporated itself quite extensively into production agriculture over the past few years.

Prescription Farming at the Beginning
When thinking about prescription farming, variable rate fertilizing and/or seeding, generally comes to mind. Variable rate seeding began with the advent of hydraulic motors serving as the drive or transmission on the planter, giving farmers the chance to change seeding rates on the go. They were also putting GPS receivers and equipment on and in their tractors and combines for auto-steer and yield mapping capabilities.

Prescription Farming Today – Nutrient Application
The evolvement of prescription farming has become more of a streamlined process in farming today. Incorporation of the “smart technologies” into the farm, along with modern GPS/rate controlling equipment
has led to more fine tuning of seeding prescriptions and nutrient application. Nutrient management has seen
an influx of aerial imagery from satellites, airplanes, and now unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s).

Prescription Farming Today – Variable Rate Seeding
With past history of yield maps, fertility tests/maps, and topography/soil information for a field, we now have the opportunity to layer different data points on top one another to create more precise seeding zones.

Recently, LG Seeds parent company, AgReliant Genetics, began to do additional hybrid testing beyond traditional strip tests and randomized research yield trials. Testing includes population trials in high, medium, and low yielding environments along with larger strip tests over multiple soil types and topography changes, allowing for multiple data points across hybrid entries at one location. In the future, this data can be coupled with the grower’s yield history and soil tests to get more accurate seeding rates, in the right locations of the field.

Between the Ears - Evolution of Prescription Farming

You can view the entire release here.

New Holland Sponsors Great American Wheat Harvest

New Holland AgricultureNext week I’ll finally get to see The Great American Wheat Harvest! AgWired has been a sponsor of this fantastic project since the beginning and now we get to see the fruit of that investment during National Ag Day Activities next week in Washington, DC. Conrad Weaver, ConjoStudios, the film producer is happy to announce another silver sponsor for the project, New Holland. Two of the harvesting crews featured in the film use New Holland equipment.

The Zeorian Harvesting & Trucking of Manley, Nebr., and the L. Petersen Farms of Hodgeville, Saskatchewan, both run New Holland combines on the wheat harvest route from Texas and Canada. The Great American Wheat Harvest follows three other farm equipment crews and kicks off its national premiere screening at the 2014 National Ag Day on March 25 in Washington, D.C.

“We appreciate the New Holland sponsorship and the collaboration of all our sponsors who have made our national premiere screening possible,” Weaver says.

“We’re pleased New Holland, and two of our customers, have the privilege of playing a role in this important documentary. As an advocate for agriculture, we feel this film is a smart way to connect consumers with the people who harvest a crop that feeds the world,” says New Holland Vice President Abe Hughes.

New Holland now joins other Great American Wheat Harvest major sponsors, including: Legacy Sponsor, John Deere; Platinum Sponsor, U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc.; Gold Sponsors, C & B Operations and North Dakota Wheat Commission state ag and commerce collaboration; and Silver Sponsors, MacDon Industries, Case IH, Association of Canadian Custom Harvesters, TMCO/National Manufacturing, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, and media partner,, an online media service.

For more information about sponsorship packages, media interviews, speaking appearances of the filmmaker and questions, contact Jody L. Lamp, GAWH National Executive Co-Coordinator, call (406) 698-9675(406) 698-9675 or by email at

Think Ahead to Harvest with Case IH Corn Heads

nfms14-case-kravekEven though this year’s crop has yet to be planted, it’s not too early to think about harvest season. That certainly was on the mind of Kelly Kravig, Case IH’s marketing manager for combines and headers, as he showed off the new Case IH 4200 Series and 4400 Series corn heads at the recent National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky.

“When we started on this project about five years ago, our goals were to design heads to have more capacity to match the size of our machines, pick cleaner, save more grain and put it in the tank, and to be able to pick up down corn better,” he said. As they were developing this new line, they heard a lot from customers on how as they migrated from smaller heads to bigger heads, they wanted to be able to leave the head on the combine without taking it off between fields. Now with their 12-row folding corn head, producers can fold the head up in less than a minute, move to another field, and unfold quickly on the other end to start harvesting. “They get more work done, get their harvest done sooner, and put more grain in the tank.”

Kelly said farmers have been anxious to see the much-talked-about new 4200 Series and 4400 Series corn heads, and NFMS gave them that opportunity to check out for themselves what they might have only read about and seen in videos.

He concluded that this new line is just part of Case IH’s commitment to providing producers with the best products possible – ones that are efficient, reliable, and give farmers the confidence to know they’ll be able to put more grain in the bin.

Listen to more of my interview with Kelly here: Interview with Kelly Kravig, Case IH

2014 National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

USDA Talks Numbers at NAFB Trade Talk

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) representatives were on hand at NAFB Trade Talk last month to discuss the 2013 crop and the 2012 census.

usda-nassThe 2013 harvest is considered completed at this point and Lance Honig with NASS says with a record corn crop and near record soybean crop forecast it’s turned out to be a pretty good year, despite the weather challenges.

“We started one way, we kind of went another way.  It’s just the weather shifting throughout the season, but apparently we had enough moisture at the right times to produce a good crop this year”

The November crop production forecast was the final one of the season so Honig says NASS is beginning the process this week of surveying some 80,000 farmers for the final end-of-season numbers coming out January 10.

Listen to my complete interview with Lance here: USDA NASS, Lance Honig

Meanwhile, NASS is also gearing up to release the first numbers from the 2012 Census of Agriculture soon.  However, that release is running a little behind schedule due to the two week government shutdown in October.  According to Donald Buysse with NASS, the preliminary results are scheduled for release on February 20, 2014 at the Ag Outlook Forum, with the bulk of the data to come later.
Listen to my complete interview with Donald here: USDA NASS, Donald Buysse

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album


Great American Wheat Harvest Thanksgiving

conradThe Great American Wheat Harvest will debut in 2014, according to the director of the documentary who was at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting talking about the project.

Conrad Weaver tells us the documentary will be seen first in March 2014. “We are premiering the film nationally on National Ag Day in Washington DC on March 25,” he said. Conrad logged more than 70,000 air- and 30,000 driving-miles this year alone, capturing the harvest from Texas to North Dakota to the Northwest and across the U.S. border into Canada. Listen to Leah Guffey’s interview with Conrad here: Interview with Conrad Weaver, Great American Wheat Harvest

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the makers of the film wanted to let everyone know how grateful for all the help they have received in making this great American documentary.

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Hick Chick Chat with MachineryLink

IMG_3503Welcome to the very first installment of the Hick Chick Chat, with me, Leah Guffey, @the_hickchick. We plan for this to be a regular feature here on Precision Pays to chat about precision technology and equipment on the farm.

_DSC2641During 2013 NAFB Annual Convention, I chatted with Justin Miller from MachineryLink. They do something a little different, they rent combines to growers to harvest the crop they have produced throughout the year.  Justin tells me how this works for them and how the concept came about, which is really to be more cost effective and help the bottom line of the producer.

MachineryLink comes from the concept of sharing equipment to “reduce costs, free up capital and more effectively manage risk.”  Justin says MachineryLink continues to grow in popularity each year and even has growers calling as soon as they are done harvesting to secure their machine for the coming year.

Justin tells me they are there to provide a service, the same one they have since the late 1990s. Worried about getting equipment to your field for harvest? Never fear, Justin says they deliver, service and pick up the combines from each farm when they farmer needs it. 24/7 service is also part of the package deal as they meticulously inspect the combines before and after each drop off.

Find out more here: Hick Chick Chat with Machinery Link

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

FMC Keeps Mid South in High Cotton

nafb-fmc-1FMC has a lot to offer cotton producers and mid-South consultant Bentley Curry was at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) this week in Kansas City to talk about it.

“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.

Listen to Bentley’s complete interview here: Interview with Bentley Curry

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Slow Start to Harvest in Central Illinois

_DSC2517Harvest is off to a slow start in Central Illinois.  It’s the final week of September and around my neck of the woods only a few fields have been shelled.  It’s getting cool and dry here but so far USDA reports that harvest is only 13% complete compared to almost 70& this time a year ago.  

With harvest running a little later than normal this year, precision technology can make the job faster and smoother. I stopped by the Bell Farm outside of Athens, Illinois last week and spoke with Coady Bell, who along with his brother and mom farm about 1600 acres. He told me how precision planting helps at harvest, and how gathering data on application and yield carry over from one year to the next. Interview with Coady Bell

Human & Robot Team Up for High-tech Harvest

ConceptualTreeFruitID-300x181Fall is in the air and it’s harvest time for Washington apple growers. With another bumper crop expected this season many Washington tree fruit growers dream of a day when automated technology helps bring in the harvest. Manoj Karkee, assistant professor with the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems at WSU, believes that day will soon be upon us.

Karkee and his team of WSU scientists recently won a $548,000 USDA grant to develop tree fruit harvesting technology where robot and human work side by side. “Due to the complexity of fruit identification in an orchard environment, collaboration between human and machine is very important. This is what’s unique,” Karkee said. “When the robot can’t deliver, humans will step in and vice versa.”

When apples are in clusters or obscured by leaves and branches, a robot requires complex algorithms and long computational time to identify them. Humans, on the other hand, can very quickly identify fruits in these situations. Working together in a mobile system in the field, the fruit is identified in real time faster than by human or machine alone.

Karkee will develop specialized robotic methods to harvest fruit with consideration for things like the delicacy of the fruit and the dynamics of picking fruit by hand.

Raven Industries Announces UHarvest

ravenRaven Industries, Inc. and Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc. are excited to introduce UHarvest: a first-of-its-kind grain cart system that provides more accurate yield data and streamlines how data is shared between machines in the field. UHarvest is the first grain cart system to integrate a moisture sensor on the cart itself, which will provide operators with more accurate yield data as it is loaded from the combine.

• ISObus compatible. UHarvest works with existing virtual terminals already in the cab, reducing cab clutter and eliminating the need for a stand-alone monitor.
• Tablet interface. Output from multiple grain carts in the field will now sync together, providing instant and accurate data for field records and accounting to interface on Windows, Android or Apple tablet devices.
• Streamlined data management. Manage data from a single grower or the whole farm with field data structure and the ability to track operators and individual grain cart data along with other equipment and the data collected by them.
• Powered by Slingshot. Connectivity in the field with Slingshot allows data to flow wirelessly, removing the need to transfer via USB devices, and provides important yield data even faster and more efficiently. Slingshot allows access to this data through a secured, online account that owners and managers can access wherever they have an internet connection.

UHarvest will be available in 2014. Visit Unverferth at tradeshows this summer to see it in action, or visit an Unverferth dealer for more information about ordering your system.

Managing for Delayed Corn Crop Development

pioneerCorn planting was delayed until early to mid-June in areas across the Corn Belt. As a result, corn pollination occurred two to three weeks later than normal, and crop maturity is lagging by a similar time span. This presents the question as to whether freezing temperatures could occur before crop maturity.

Although detrimental, the first freeze may have limited yield and grain quality consequences in most cases according to DuPont Pioneer agronomists. Often a first frost will be light enough to affect only corn leaves, allowing the plant to continue to fill grain from stalk carbohydrate reserves. A worst-case scenario would be a hard freeze of 32 degrees or lower for several hours. If this occurs prior to crop maturity, it could bring a more abrupt end to corn development and, consequently, result in possible yield and test weight reductions and slower grain drydown. To estimate percent yield loss, you will need to determine the ear development stage at the time of freeze.

Rather than looking at GDUs now, breaking a few ears and looking for the location of the milk line once it begins to progress downward will give you a good determination of maturity. The milk line is the line separating the starchy area from the milky endosperm. It moves down from the crown of the kernel, at about 1/4 of the length of the kernel per week, to where it attaches to the cob. An ear with most kernels at half milk line will be about two weeks from black layer.

You may find that you will have wet or immature corn in October, making your decision on when to start combining difficult. Experience gained during several years of late harvest suggests that excessive delay may not be a good idea for the following reasons:

  • A delayed start means a delayed finish, resulting in less time available for harvest as well as fertilization and tillage.
  • Limited fall tillage and fertilization may reduce options for crop rotation next spring.
  • Drying corn with ambient temperatures in the 20’s requires more energy than drying corn with ambient temperatures in the 40’s.
  • Heightened safety concerns and potential for increased damage to machinery when working with frozen soils and snow or ice-covered roads.

AgGateway Launches SPADE2

AgGateway_LogoAgGateway’s Precision Ag Council is building on its successful work to date on the Standardized Precision Ag Data Exchange (SPADE) Project by launching SPADE2. While the first phase focused on seeding, the second phase will cover crop protection and harvest operations. SPADE2 will also build infrastructure to source the machine and product reference data needed to share crop plans, recommendations, work orders and work records across the industry. These advances will help drive the use of precision ag equipment for a number of basic field operations, enabling growers and agri-businesses to achieve tremendous technological advances, enhanced yield and improved net revenue performance.

The SPADE project will have global impact. The project’s proposed extensions will modify the ISO11783 standards used in agricultural machinery. SPADE is working to allow seamless interoperability and data exchange between hardware systems and software applications that collect field data across farming operations. This ability to share data will simplify mixed-fleet field operations, regulatory compliance, crop insurance reporting, traceability, sustainability assessment and field or crop-scale revenue management. It will also make it easier for growers to share data with their trusted advisors, suppliers and other value partners, and will lower the cost of entry for growers and ag retailers who want to use precision ag technology.

New Technology Featured at Corn Conference

logoThe 2013 Summer Corn Conference will feature full-day sessions at which high-yield growers and agronomists can learn about the latest developments and technologies that lead to the best possible yields. Each day will consist of sessions that focus on field scouting, row cleaners and closing systems, down force and population management, and in-cab technologies.

Dates for the conference – held at the Precision Planting operation in Tremont, Illinois – are August 6-9, 2013. Admission is free but spaces are limited and advance registration is required. Those interested may learn more and register for a specific date at or by calling 800-660-9573.

As in previous summer conferences, attendees will get hands-on field explanations of planting errors and their impact, see planters in action, and watch demonstrations of cutting-edge planting and monitoring technologies. There will be a special presentation of the improved accuracy of the new YieldSense harvest monitor. All sessions are geared toward giving growers information they can use in their own operations to improve decision-making and boost yields.

Precision Pays Podcast: The Great American Wheat Harvest

pp-podcastCustom harvesters are big users of precision technologies.  An upcoming documentary is now in production that will follow custom harvesters and show how wheat goes from the field to the bread on your dinner table. 

In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology, we’ll take a closer look at the new documentary by Conrad Weaver, The Great American Wheat Harvest

Precision Pays Podcast

Our sister website,, has come on board as a Silver Sponsor of this great project.

You can subscribe to the Precision Pays Podcast here.

The Precision Pays Podcast is sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.

AgWired announced this month that they have come on board as a Silver Sponsor.