Technology

Agvocate or Aggravate?

If you are reading this, it is likely you read other agricultural and farming blogs as well so you may have noticed this “trend” that I will be discussing. There are more and more people writing blogs, social media posts, etc advocating for agriculture (agvocate). While having additional people working to bring awareness to agriculture and farming we need to be careful how we are going about it. I’ve recently noticed a spike in the amount of anger displayed in Blogs, Facebook postings, Tweets, etc. Remember we are trying to Agvocate not Aggravate our audience.

I 100% understand that many times these postings are written in response to something and you are angry, but to the non-farming community you can easily seem like a mean, cruel person with anger issues. This is not how we should be promoting a cause we feel so strongly about. It is due to these strong feelings about our way of life that we allow these emotions to take over our work, but at what cost? I also get fired up when a company/corporation condemns GMO’s or herbicide use, when a politician proposes legislation without understanding the entire impact, when the major news media mostly ignores the wildfires that destroyed so much, but anger isn’t always the best delivery method of your message.

Of course that angry blog post reaches a lot of readers and that video rant posted on Facebook gets a couple thousand views and a few hundred shares, but it is usually the farming community reading and watching these posts, sharing with their friends and families, people that already understand where you are coming from. We as whole, need to do a better job taking a step back and a deep breath before trying to agvocate. As we strive to educate the public about all things ag. related, lets make sure we carry ourselves as professionally as possible so our audience is more likely to listen and understand without believing we are all angry, crazy people.

Farmer Ingenuity

It is no secret that farmers may be the most resourceful bunch you’ll ever meet. Sometimes they are just trying to create a quick fix to an issue to get by until a more permanent solution can be done, other times they look at something and figure they can build it themselves cheaper, and yet other times it is just for the enjoyment of doing something themselves.

I recently saw a picture of a 4020 John Deere tractor powered by a Deutz engine (for those who don’t know, in the John Deere world this sort of thing is sometimes considered an unforgivable sin), completely farmer done. Now, I don’t know his reasoning for this project, I imagine it had to do with having a tractor that needed and an engine, and an engine waiting to be put to use, but in any case you have to admire the amount of work done to get the finished product he wanted.
dsc06292
I even know a couple of guys who have built scrapers for skid loaders out of scrap steel and old rubber tracks for pushing manure or snow. Farmers everywhere have been converting, modifying, and even building machinery to fit their needs. A quick google search will find you multiple home made tractors, tractors linked together, home made attachments, etc. In fact some of these farmer inventions have gone on to be mass produced, not only being sold to bigger manufacturers but also independently.

This ingenuity doesn’t just stop at big machinery, every day farmers find creative ways to solve smaller problems. I know a man who was sick of gates being left open and unlatched by kids and visitors on his livestock farm, he solved this problem by making nearly all his gates on his farm, self-closing and self-latching with the use of some scrap steal and some old springs out of a junk pile. I’ve seen home made wire unwinders to assist in repairing or replacing barbed wire fencing that attached to a tractor, skid loader, ATV, etc. I guarantee you could stop by any farm in America and find at least a couple farmer-built gadgets or gizmos to help make their life easier.

We’d love to hear from you, whats your favorite farm invention, gadget, or thing-ma-jig?

Case IH Robo-Tractor

As you probably are already well aware, CNH Global revealed their new autonomous tractor concept. They have been showcasing both the cabless Case IH version as well as a cabbed New Holland model. These tractors have been paraded around the country to some of the biggest farm shows around, but are these tractors really a look at our immediate future? Well here is my take.

If you are like me the announcement of the Robo-Tractor, as I like to call it, made you cringe. I just can not imagine a world where the tractors did the work with no operator. It seems to go against our agricultural legacy. However, we all should know by now that new and improved technologies emerge every day and this Robo-Tractor wasn’t exactly a huge surprise to me.

Personally, I don’t see this Robo-Tractor coming to a farm near you anytime soon. For one, this big reveal was not a new model or product announcement, it wasn’t meant to show you what will be on every dealer lot next year, this is only to show you what they are working on and what the future of farm machinery COULD look like. These autonomous tractors as well as their new slogan are nothing more than a marketing gimmick to try to boost sales for CNH.
case%20ih%20-%20rethink%20productivity_logo%20lockup_8-30-16
The public’s opinion on these machines is less than optimistic based on everyone I’ve talked to and numerous articles written about it. Most farmers just aren’t ready for the day where they spend less time out of the tractor and more time in an office. Many farmers have pointed out the obvious pitfalls of such a machine, such as it not detecting a wet spot that a human operator may have been able to avoid or problems with the implements hooked behind the tractor, it does you no good if you have to drive out to the field 8 times  to fix or adjust a piece of equipment. Roadability is a big concern, in the video released by CNH they mentioned it being able to travel to the field on its own on private roads and paths. That doesn’t always work real well in some parts of the country where you are more often than not moving machinery on public roadways. There is a real concern of price. We can only speculate now, but everyone is guessing these tractors will be very, very, very expensive, higher than tractors are already.

I believe the version of the Case IH tractor they revealed will be a flop if ever released in that form. It isn’t versatile enough to be of much use to the average farm. The New Holland version they are showing however, could have some success as it still has a cab as well as a user friendly operating station like our current tractors and is meant to be easily used either driverless or with an operator. The only way I see very many of either version being sold is if big corporations buy them in an effort to reduce labor. I’m talking the farms that the owner or share holder owners don’t make any real day to day decisions but are there to manage the finances and try to collect a healthy profit for themselves. These are people that have likely never farmed or even stepped foot on the place they own.

14138075_10154318784495168_2970633350428440864_o

Quite frankly, I don’t like this thing and I share the same views and opinions of many others. I believe it will cost to much, not necessarily make life or work any easier, and the cost of repairs will be horrendous. I also see almost zero benefit to the average farmer. We already have GPS guidance systems and auto-steer to help us out, what will this thing do that we can’t already do? If I own a piece of equipment I prefer a human to accompany said equipment in case there are any issues. I don’t want to be tied to my computer or smart phone any more than I already am. If I send an employee out to the field with a tractor to do some tillage I know that he/she will only call me if there is a question or issue, and other than that I know the machine is in good hands. If I send a Robo-Tractor to the field to do some tillage I have to periodically check on it with my computer, tablet, or phone thus limiting the amount of work I can get done myself. I don’t like the idea that this computerized abomination can possibly put people out of a job. I am frustrated with the fact that CNH is trying to come across as leaders of unmarked territory, when in fact there are companies already producing autonomous tractors as well as converting existing tractors to be fully autonomous. I’ll give them credit on that paint scheme though.

Do I believe the autonomous tractor will eventually make its way into every day farm life? Of course I do, but I think we are still a ways off from that happening. I think the agriculture economy will have to improve drastically before many people even consider purchasing such a machine. I also believe that the technology still has growing to do before that day arrives.

The Importance of Carpet Farming

If you grew up on a farm or around a farm or in a rural area you likely have fond memories of farming several thousand acres on the floors of your bedroom, kitchen, living room, hall ways, and even some custom work for a neighbor over in the bathroom. You likely had some of the newest equipment of your favorite color. There were probably times you had to beg your sister for some pasture space in her room for your newest heifers.

At times I see kids tearing across the floor combining corn or baling hay and I’d give nearly anything to be able to go back to those days when a trip with Mom or Dad to the local farm store or implement dealer meant a chance to hopefully bring home another piece of equipment for MY farm. My birthday, Christmas, and sometimes Easter usually meant I’d get at least one new addition for the farm.
maxresdefault
Carpet farming taught me as well as other kids some very important lessons over the years. A large part of that state of the art machinery I had was purchased with my own money and I learned early the importance of saving for what I wanted and budgeting expenses accordingly. I also learned what it felt like to beg the banker (Mom and Dad) to spot me the money that I PROMISED to pay back (I wonder how many of those promises I actually made good on). I still remember the first time I learned about sales tax. I was at the Clay County Fair and though my farm was primarily green, a toy booth had a New Holland tractor and implement, I think a ripper, and for some reason I thought I needed that for an upgrade. I happily went to the check out counter and bought my newest equipment, after walking back to where I was meeting my parents I realized the change I received wasn’t correct, or so I thought. I failed to realize we had to pay sales tax, boy that was a shock.
large-1261762380-ttst8040set
I’m sure you all have similar memories and lessons learned from those days. We also shouldn’t forget how much fun a kid has when his/her parents, grandparents, or any adult really, gets down on the floor and plays along. Kiddos love that, especially if you let them be farm manager. You may be amazed at how much fun your having yourself, that is until you try to get up and those old knees are stiffened up.

To all my Carpet Farmers out there; Farm ON!

10 Farmall Facts

836425616a093f9442438ed4a4f5d8c7

I recently read a list about some little known facts about John Deere. This had me thinking about a few facts about Farmall tractors. I couldn’t come up with much in the way of a list or anything so I did some research and came up with my own 10 facts about our beloved Farmall’s.

1. From 1924-1963 Farmalls were the largest selling row crop tractors.

2. Of all the Farmall models the Farmall Cub remained in production the longest, from 1947-1979.

3. The Farmall H & Super H is the number one selling row crop tractor of all time.
0305001955-l
4. Farmall was originally a model name used by International Harvester when they entered the “All-Purpose” Tractor market. It was so successful that for years they used Farmall as a brand for their new line of tractors.

5. Farmalls were originally a bluish-grey color. It wasn’t until 1936 that the bright Farmall Red came to be. The reason behind this paint scheme was mostly due to marketing. Competitors were beginning to use bright colors to draw the eye of potential customers as well as to be easily identified from afar.

6. IH hired designer, Raymond Loewy, to give the new Letter Series tractors a “streamlined appearance”.


7. Many of the new Farmall 60 series tractors were recalled due to reports of mechanical breakdowns. These breakdowns were largely caused by the new, more powerful 6 cylinder engines mated to basically un-changed model M components. Obviously, competitors pounced upon this recall as an opportunity to draw customers away from the Farmall models.

8. The Fast Hitch was introduced by IH to compete with the 3 point hitch developed by Ferguson and used on Ford-Ferguson tractors. The Fast Hitch became an option on the Farmall Super C, 100, 200, 300, 400 tractors as well as some later models but was later abandoned when the 3-point became adopted by all manufacturers.

9. The Farmall Works plant first opened in Rock Island, Illinois in 1926 and was closed in 1985

10. IH officially dropped the Farmall name in 1973, however some tractors produced in 1974 and 1975 still sported the Farmall badge as the factories used up the rest of their supply of the name plates. Case IH has recently resurrected the Farmall name in its line of compact tractors.

Support Your Local FFA

Learning to Do,
 Doing to Learn,
 Earning to Live,
 Living to Serve.

This one phrase consisting of only 12 words have stuck with me long after my FFA Career ended. As a Sophmore in high school I decided to join FFA. My only regret is not joining as a Freshman. I learned very valuable lessons in FFA throughout those 3 years that are beyond the contents of a text book. Like all good high school agriculture programs, we learned about soil science, plant health, animal science, meat and milk production, and much more. Those lessons are important for aspiring farmers and those pursuing careers in agriculture but that just barely scratches the surface of FFA. FFA taught us all about life skills that I will forever carry with me including public speaking and giving presentations, problem solving, research skills, interview skills, leadership, organization, teamwork, and servitude.

My local FFA Chapter, Okoboji FFA, does a great job of giving back to the community. The community supports the chapter throughout the year by partaking in various fundraising events including fruit sales, an antique tractor ride, donations for an annual auction, the chapter pumpkin patch, and more. Okoboji FFA then uses those funds to purchase equipment or materials for the shop, and send students to district, state, and national events. Every year the chapter strives to give back to the community by donating fruit to the elderly, trash pickup on a stretch of Highway 71, present a series of Farm Safety demonstrations to elementary students, educate non-farming folks about agriculture, and many more projects and events.

shop_GTOB_banner_1019x362

FFA is more than just showing livestock at the local fair and working on tractors. I encourage you to support your local FFA Chapter. We all need to be thinking of the future of agriculture, especially when so many of our practices seem to be under attack by the mis-informed. I urge you all to go out to the next event you see that your local chapter is hosting. If you can and wish to, donate to either your local chapter, or to the National FFA Organization. The next time you see students sporting the National Blue and Corn Gold remember that FFA is much bigger than livestock and corduroy.

3 MUST HAVE Apps for Farmers

It seem’s like everywhere we look we are being told about a new app. Everyone has an app that they want you to download. There are apps to edit pictures, to find dates, to order pizza, and even apps that allows kids to hide things from their parents. This article highlights 3 apps you may not have heard off yet, but I feel would be very beneficial to every grower.

Scout Pro
Scout Pro was founded in May 2011 by 3 Iowa State University Graduates. A great feature of this app is that there is two varieties of it. One for growers and one for consultants. The grower app is used for crop scouting as well as weed, insect, and disorder identification. You can use this app either offline or with a cellular data plan. Scout Pro also features a map draw function. The Grower’s report is easily saved and even shared with advisors, consultants, employees, or business partners. The consultant  app  has a database of weeds, insects, disorders and diseases for corn, wheat, and soybeans. The app contains geo-referenced points to help better track issues, too. A consultant can capture and share photos of the field that goes right into the scouting reports, and the reports are also easily shareable. Overall Scout Pro is definitely an app I recommend to growers I work with as well as other consultants. The ease of organization as well as share ability makes this a must have app. This is especially useful for pulling up reports that are years old. You can learn more at scoutpro.org.
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 11.00.52 AM TractorPal
TractorPal is something nearly everyone can use, but is especially useful for the everyday farmer. TractorPal is a mobile app that keeps maintenance and inventory records of machinery and vehicles at your fingertips at all times. No more trying to keep track of past receipts or trying to decipher bad handwriting on paper smudged with oil and grease. TractorPal works great for all machinery on the farm including implements and attachments, cars, trucks, ATV’s, tractors, and more. This app allows you to enter serial numbers, purchase price, purchase location, original miles/hours, make, model, and year of the vehicle or equipment. You can even ad photos to each individual log. This app allows you to access part numbers which can be especially beneficial when standing at the parts store counter. If selling a piece of equipment and a potential seller wants maintenance history it can be emailed in no time. The $9.99 app includes an unlimited amount of equipment and reports and can be backed up onto the Cloud. The really neat thing about TractorPal is it can be customized for dealerships and businesses to include their logo and phone number and given to customers similar to hats and t-shirts. Learn more at tractorpal.com
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 11.02.40 AM

Growers Edge
Growers Edge is a neat app that provides users with a plethora of information. This information includes:

  • Local Cash Bids
  • Corn and Soybean Prices
  • Best Cash Bid (within 100 mile radius, adjusted for trucking & storage costs)
  • Markets & Market Commentary
  • Pinpointed Weather right to your fields
  • Ag News
  • Profit Manager

I love the idea that growers can just open this app on their phone, get a quick look at the local cash bids, and who has the best bid in the area. This app is also especially handy for looking at weather conditions at specific field locations which is great when deciding weather or not to head out with the sprayer. Learn more at growers-edge.com.
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 11.03.29 AM

Do you have any apps you would recommend?