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

Precision Pays Profile – Jerome Tschetter

ris-13-103_edited-1Jerome Tshetter was one of the panelists during the Raven Innovation Summit Producer Panel. The event held earlier this week brought dealers, growers and agriculture media from across the globe together to hear all about the new products Raven Industries has on the market.

Jerome Tschetter is a corn and soybean grower from Bridgewater, South Dakota and not only shared his insight into precision agriculture to me in an interview, but also contributed his years of farming expertise to the insightful producer panel.

A yield mapping system with GPS was the first form of precision agriculture he adopted on his operation. It is also one of the things he says has had the biggest impact in terms of profitability on his farm.

“The ability to yield map which tracks, not only the varieties but also your population levels shows you what is going on with soil types and other management practices that come into play. That has probably been the most beneficial from a data prospective. We have adopted the auto steering guidance system in the last four years. That aspect has just been remarkable in what it’s done for our efficiency and fatigue issues along with the ability to present a really nice looking operation.”

Jerome went on to explain that sometimes it’s the little things related to technology that can be a struggle. The beeping or flashing lights that are there to remind you of something can get a little annoying, but the benefits of higher yields, less seed loss and efficiency certainly out way the cons. He also shared what he sees as being the future of precision agriculture.

Listen to my interview with Jerome here: Interview with Jerome Tschetter

Check out photos from the event here: Raven Innovation Summit Photo Album

Precision Farmer Profile – Mike Cox of Indiana

Mike Cox of Indiana was one of more than 250 innovative farmers from around the country who attended the recent BASF Crop Protection grower symposium in Fort Lauderdale highlihgting “Fields of Opportunity” for the future of agricultural productivity.

basf-grower-2Mike Cox is a corn and soybean farmer from Indiana who really enjoyed the symposium, interacting with fellow producers from around the country and learning about tools to help him increase production. “We like to do a good job and it takes continuous education and effort to make that happen,” said Mike.

He’s also a member of the BASF advisory panel, and he expects the company to do a good job of listening to ideas from farmers like him. “I hope that the goal [of taking a great product farther] is something we can achieve.”

Mike said that technology has been a big driver in making agriculture more efficient and making sustainable increases in production. He added that he’s been exposed to precision technology nearly his entire career, back to the early 1990s. “The technology just keeps getting better and better. And it gives credibility to the products we use. It’s a check mark that you’re doing a good job or maybe you’re not extracting enough value.”

Mike concluded expressing his appreciation to be able to come to a symposium like this put on by BASF. “They’ve done an excellent job presenting their information. Very professional, organized contribution that I’m glad to witness and be part of.”

Listen to an interview with Mike here: Mike Cox, Indiana farmer

BASF Grower Symposium Photo Album

Precision Farmer Profile – Jay Drees of Iowa

More than 250 of the nation’s most innovative farmers recently were invited to attend the recent BASF Crop Protection grower symposium in Fort Lauderdale highlighting “Fields of Opportunity” for the future of agricultural productivity. Among them was Jay Drees of Iowa.

basf-grower-1“I’m a second generation farmer. We basically raise corn and soybeans,” Jay said. He also serves on BASF’s Grower Advisory Panel, a position designed to explain to BASF what some of the current problems are with farming and to find possible solutions.

Jay said technology in the equipment and in the seeds they put in the ground are making their operations run better. “GPS has been a big thing. It’s made it easier and more efficient to cover more of the acres.” He also credits new corn varieties that are resistant to drought as helping make his job a little easier. Plus, Drees is really happy with BASF’s new treatments to hold ground water better.

Jay said coming to a symposium like this is valuable because of how much they learn from farmers in other parts of the country … especially how southern farms have to learn to deal with certain weeds before they hit his farm in Iowa. “The people in the south get to see the weeds before we do, and I told one guy that I appreciate that they do get ‘em, so we can figure out a way to kill ‘em before they get to us!”

Listen to an interview with Jay here: Jay Drees, Iowa farmer

BASF Grower Symposium Photo Album

Precision Pays Profile – Scott Parr of Wisconsin

BASF Crop Protection held a grower symposium in Fort Lauderdale this month, inviting 275 of the nation’s most innovative farmers to attend. The theme of the symposium was “Fields of Opportunity” and some of the ways farming has improved in recent years and what is ahead for the future.

basf-scott“Our farm doesn’t look anything like it did even ten years ago,” says Scott Parr, a potato and vegetable farmer from Wisconsin. “We use larger, GPS-guided equiment and we also manage things to the nth degree. We have to be right on top of our game all the time.”

Parr says information management is their biggest issue right now. “We have a lot of concerns with traceability of produce throughout the system,” he said. “We have to be keeping track of that information and that’s our biggest challenge right now.”

Listen to my interview with Scott here: Scott Parr, Wisconsin farmer

BASF Grower Symposium Photo Album

Kip Tom – Precision Pays Profile

kip-tom-doubleOur next Precision Pays Profile calls Indiana home, where he operates Tom Farms with his family. Tom Farms consists of 16,000 acres of seed corn, corn and soybeans. Cindy met up with Kip Tom, during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk and he shared his love for agriculture and all the new gadgets that make farming easier and more efficient.

Kip is also one of Ag Connect’s Masters and Mavericks who has embraced the emerging trends set before him and is eager to share how agriculture can move forward and continue to feed the world.

“We didn’t have precision farming to what we have today. I’d put it this way, I think even my grandfather and great-grandfather probably had some form of precision farming on their 80 acres they operated. Today, it’s much different. What’s really interesting is over the past 20 years precision technology has been at the farm gate.”

“Today, I’m really excited because I look at it this way, we are at the convergence of innovation. We’ve got biotechnology, we’ve got informatics and then we’ve got the ability to remotely or mechanically control how we put those three things together. It’s another lever we can pull now to improve yields.”

Kip made it clear that the most significant thing in terms of precision agriculture that increases yields on his farm, decreases his carbon footprint and increases his bottom line was biotechnology and seed genetics. In the struggle to continue to feed the world Kip also reminds us that failure is not an option. He insists that biotechnology, the ability to run our farms like a business while making good decisions and improving yields is something that should be the center of everyones operation.

Listen to Cindy’s complete interview with Tom here: Kip Tom

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album


Martin Barbre – Precision Pays Profile

nafb12-ncga-martinMeet another one of our farmers working hard to take advantage of new technologies to make feeding the world just a little bit easier. Martin Barbre farms with his son in a partnership raising corn, soybeans and wheat. He calls southeastern Illinois home and has farmed there since he was 19 years old.

Cindy talked with him during the National Association of Farm Broadcastings’s Trade Talk. He explained how grid sampling was his farms first step into using precision agriculture allowing them to apply fertilizer according to need.

What has changed over the years?

“When I started we were sitting on an open tractor, breathing the dust, listening to the noisy muffler. I am lucky I didn’t get 40/20 hearing, for some reason my hearing is still good. But it has changed so much, we have adopted new tillage practices, we no-till quite a bit more, saving soil and conserving our resources. The technology has changed a lot. The seed technology has just been great, not only the technology but the genetics have changed. We use yield mapping, grid soil sampling and try to maximize the most out of every arce. That’s our goal.”

What do you see in the future of precision agriculture?

“I think just further enhancements of what we are doing now. More precise, better tools then what we started with. Now we just need them to be precise and we are looking forward to that.”

Martin also shared his excitement for the iPad. He said sometimes on the farm the smartphone is just not big enough and the computer is simply too big. But the iPad he uses is just right.

Listen to Cindy’s complete interview with Martin here: Martin Barbre

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album


Precision Pays Profile – Greg Anderson

Former United Soybean Board Chairman Greg Anderson of Nebraska says it is remarkable to see the yields that farmers in the United States were able to achieve this year in one of the worst droughts in history.

“I think that’s a tribute to farming practices and the technology we have at our finger tips,” Greg said during an interview at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk last month.

The Anderson farming operation in Newman Grove, Nebraska will celebrate 140 years next year and Greg says agriculture has changed a great deal since that time. “It’s the most exciting time to be in production agriculture right now,” said Greg. “I’m convinced that five years from now it will be that much better.”

Greg says modern farming practices have made agriculture more efficient and more sustainable. “I think of practices as simple as no-till and building organic matter in my soil,” he said, and improvements in irrigation, such as center pivot technology that saves money, is better for the crop and better for the environment.

Greg also talks about new traits, information technology and how the best is yet to come in this interview: Interview with Greg Anderson

Meet Randy Spronk – Precision Pays Profile

It is time for another spotlight in our series of post about farmers utilizing precision agriculture on their farm. Today’s Precision Pays Profile is on Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer and crop farmer. I met up with him while attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk in Kansas City last week. Randy shared his passion for agriculture and how he has embraced new technologies over the years.

“I am in a unique situation, I have two separate fiscal entities. Spronk Brothers is the livestock side. We have a swine farrow-to-finish operation where we have our own feed mill. Ranger Farms is the cropping side. It is a separate limited liability partnership where we farm about 3,000 acres,. planting every spring.”

“I guess I’d call myself an early adopter. I actually was an early integrator of using technology for driving. We have multiple units of RTK for tractors, combines and sprayers. In the last couple of days I have gone back to my yield maps and elevation maps for drainage.”

“On the swine side, our fertilizer comes from livestock manure. We actually use the precision farming on all of our rigs. The RTK satellite and the auto track steering with flow meters.”

Randy is also President-Elect for the National Pork Producers Council, where he will help defend producers rights and freedom to operate.

Listen to my interview with Randy here: Randy Spronk - Minnesota Farmer

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album


Meet Dan Hughes – Precision Pays Profile

It is time for another Precision Pays Profile. Again, NAFB Trade Talk made it possible for me to meet Dan Hughes, a farmer from western Nebraska.

Dan operates an 11,000 acre farm with 20% irrigated and 80% in dry land. He manages a diverse selection in the field including: hard red winter wheat, hard white winter wheat, corn, soybeans, dry edible beans, sunflowers and millet. Dan and his family jumped in to the world of precision agriculture about 10 years ago, with their first investment being in a no-till drill. He shared how nice it was to end a day in the field without being completely worn out. I heard that commonality from many farmers I interviewed.

“It is a very exciting time, the technology that has come to agriculture in the last 10 years is just phenomenal. That’s part of the reason my kids have come back to the farm. They just recently graduated college and they are excited. For me that is a wonderful thing to see. Agriculture is being penalized for GMO crops. It is not fair for agriculture to be penalized for taking advantage of technology. The whole world has embraced cell phones and that type of technology, but why would you deny agriculture that same opportunity.”

Off the farm Dan is still involved in the agriculture industry and especially the U.S. wheat industry. He serves as Vice Chairman for U.S. Wheat Associates, an organization that assists buyers, influences trade policy and gives a voice to producers.

Listen to my interview with Dan here: Dan Hughes - Nebraska Crop Farmer

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Precision Pays Profile

Here on Precision Pays we are starting a new series highlighting farmers from across the country who are utilizing precision agriculture. We found our first feature farmer, Steve Maddox, at the National Associations of Farm Broadcasting Convention. Checkout how Steve has increased profitability and sustainability on his California dairy farm.

“We have a 9,000 acre farm surrounding our dairy. We have 3,000 acres in wine grapes, 1,500 acres of almonds and we have the rest in feed crops. Seven years ago we started going to GPS trying to reduce paces. What we found was we were turning the fields 9 to 10 times. We knew we had to stop that. We went to a bigger implement 18 foot wide. We were able to cut our passes in half. In fact, we turned our fields in four days this year. Our fuel was cut in half and labor by two-thirds. On the dairy side of it we went to RFI ID tags for the cows and we are doing program breeding using our breeding tools. This increased our conception rates by 10%.”

Listen to my interview with Steve here: Steve Maddox - California Dairyman

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album