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Mud Slinging

Yesterday I received an email in response to an online advertisement we’ve been running regarding the Agrovantage Crop Management products. This individual wanted a little more information which I gave him. Shortly thereafter I receive a simple one sentence reply, “My fertilizer rep with XYZ (I’ll leave out the company) says your stuff is junk”.

Now while I, multiple growers across all 50 states, and several yield champions would disagree with that statement I knew there was really nothing more to say to this individual as his mind was made. What annoyed me most about the situation is the blantant disrespect from a fellow salesman in the industry. It is unfortunate that this sort of thing happens, and seems to be happening more often, not just to me but industry wide.

I don’t speak for XYZ fertilizer company and I wish they wouldn’t speak for me. The same goes for seed dealers, soil sampling companies, etc. I make it a rule to never bad mouth or sling mud at the competition. However I’m not afraid to tell you that Green tractors are better than red 😜

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.
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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?

National Ag Week

As you probably already know this week (March 13-19) is National Ag Week. Today I’ve noticed a number of posts on social media thanking farmers. This of course is great, but I want to make sure everyone remembers that National Ag Week isn’t just to show appreciation to farmers but all those involved in agriculture.

What many don’t realize is that it takes a great number of people to keep up with the world’s demand for the products we produce. Team work is truly needed for all of us to succeed in this rapidly changing industry, if one wheel falls off the whole car comes to a halt. Farmers and ranchers rely on everyone from truck drivers to veterinarians, agronomists to mechanics, sales people to hired help, advisors of all variety and most of all the farm/ranch families. This week is truly for all of us involved in agriculture.

Agriculture is the nation’s largest employer of over 23 million people, and in 2010 the U.S. exported more than $115 billion worth of agricultural products. These figures go to show how much impact each and every one us make to not only the nation, but to everyone around world. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back!

 

GMO or NON-GMO? That’s the real question.

It seems every few years there is a new trend or buzzword that floats around that really grabs the public’s attention. Lately it seems this on going argument of GMO vs. Non-GMO has been one of those trends. The last few years this ongoing debate has really been gaining steam. Internet and social media has been the main contributor in the momentum this topic has gained, but it is time we all take a good hard look at what all this really means. This article in no way is meant to sway the reader to think one way or the other on the topic but rather is an attempt to get some open-minded discussion on the topic.

At the end of the day many of you have already decided whether or not you are in favor or are against GMO crops and nothing I say is likely to change your opinion. It is no secret that I am not against GMO crops, however, up until now I have tried to remain as uninvolved in the debate as possible. I am not out to start arguments, get in Facebook fights, start name calling, etc. Unfortunately my un-involvement came to an end fairly quickly when an Anti-GMO individual decided to bring the fight to me on my personal Google+ account. A little background information for you, I recently posted a picture on Google Plus of 2 ears of corn taken from a field near my hometown in Northwest Iowa. One ear was taken from a plant that had been treated with Conklin’s Amplify seed treatment at planting time, the other ear was taken from a plant that had not been treated, same soil, same hybrid, same everything except the Amplify. I posted the picture to demonstrate the advantages of using Amplify and market my business.
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This is when the trouble began. Right off the bat there was a gentleman asking if it was GMO or Non-GMO corn. I responded stating that as he may already know that many of the corn acres planted for production agriculture in the US is what is commonly called GMO. He continued to go off into a tirade against Monsanto, attacked my business and myself personally, and wouldn’t let the facts get in the way of his beliefs. He accused me of selling seed that would “ruin the world,” when in fact I do not sell seed or have anything to do with any product related to GMO’s. No product that I offer changes the genetic make-up of any organism.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph and have often observed, many of the people involved in the Anti-GMO campaign don’t let facts hinder their beliefs. I believe much of this comes from the passion they have for the topic, but do they really know much about these GMO’s that they love to hate so much? I recently watched a video clip on youtube titled “What’s a GMO?” by Jimmy Kimmel Live. This 4 minute video proves the fact that many people against GMO’s:
1. Don’t know why they are against GMO’s and
2. Don’t even know what GMO stands for

Now, I know this video was created strictly for entertainment purposes but I suspect if I went and did the same thing right now my results would be very similar. So what is a GMO? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Did you know that diabetics around the world are using GMO produced insulin? This practice has taken place since the late 1970’s and there is absolutely zero evidence of any harm, nothing proved dangerous in the last 40 years of study, and not one of the millions of diabetics who are using it have had a single issue with GMO produced insulin. However many of the anti-GMO community would insist it is bad for you based solely on the fact that it didn’t come from “natural” sources. Did you know that hairless cats are considered a GMO? We have also used genetic engineering technology to enhance cattle to be more resistant to the deadly mad-cow disease.There are even some that consider many dog breeds to be GMO animals due to the genetic engineering that took place many many years ago to produce a certain breed of dog with the trait they were after.

The agriculture industry as well as the world sure would be vastly different without GMO crops. We likely wouldn’t be able to get high enough yields necessary to keep our farms from going under. Most farmers would probably have to have a 2nd source of income to feed their families. We wouldn’t have glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup) resistant crops. Many of our crops would succumb to disease and insect infestation. It would be even harder to feed the 7+ billion people on this planet. Food that we enjoy everyday would cost much more due to the increased cost of production. I’m not blindly saying there is no negative consequences to raising GMO crops as there are some environmental concerns that need to be studied more. We have more common weeds that are developing a resistance to glyphosate herbicides, however there are multiple causes to glyphosate resistance that I may write an article solely on later. We have noticed a decrease in Monarch butterflies as well as bees, and many believe that is due to the fact of increased pesticide use. Some also say that insects we are targeting are becoming resistant to common pesticides. I haven’t seen enough research to say with 100% certainty that GMO crops are linked to these or any other environmental concerns but is something that we, in agriculture, need to keep an open mind and watchful eye for.

I just read this morning that Hershey’s is making a move towards “simpler ingredients” due to the pressure from anti-GMO organizations. Hershey’s isn’t alone in caving to these organizations though, companies like Chipotle, General Mills, Chick-fil-a, and Panera, to name a few, have also made changes in an effort to keep such organizations off their backs. It saddens me to see such drastic measures taken by corporations to appease the few and with no substantial scientific evidence to show any dangers of eating foods made from GMO crops. The fact is the vast majority of the public is not against GMOs. Oregon and California both have had failed campaigns pushing for labeling of GMOs on food. Ballot initiatives across the country to require GMO labeling have also failed, further proving that it is a minority of people concerned about GMO safety.

If you are for GMOs or whole heartedly against them I respect your opinion. The minute you start any name calling, mud slinging, personal attacks on people and businesses that don’t agree with your point of view, all respect is lost. I for one support GMO crop production because in my eyes it is the only way the family farms in this country are going to be able to survive, the only way we are going to continue to produce enough food to feed the 7 billion people of this world, and the only way we can continue to produce food that is affordable to so many people. If you don’t agree with me that is perfectly fine, you have the right to your opinion after all. If you don’t want to eat foods that may contain ingredients from GMO crops, then by all means please don’t eat them and find sources of food that fit your beliefs. Some people simply can’t afford organic or natural food but if you can and thats what you want go for it. I see no reason to argue, fight and name call, no reason to require special labeling, no reason for protest or boycott. If you don’t like it then don’t eat it!

A Travel through Technology

I was recently scrolling through the pictures of those who I follow on Instagram (Follow us at @profoundag1) when one particular photo and caption caught my attention advertising a small drone for sale. The caption read that it was an AgriCopterPro made in Tennessee by Agriimage. The description goes on to read that it is ideal for crop scouting and comes with some add ons for better performance. Brand new the list price hovers around $4,000 dollars but this particular unit was used, and was being offered at only $3,000. Something about a drone made especially for crop scouting seems a bit futuristic for me. I remember growing up hearing of one day having combines and tractors that will levitate to reduce compaction, as well as hover craft ATV’s but I never took them seriously. I’m sure someone probably told me that drones would eventually be common on the farm but I either tuned it out or filed it away with the other mythical sounding things, like remote operated tractors.

I made a note to look up the company that builds these gizmos, and kept scrolling through my Instagram when I saw another post that caught my attention. It was a video of a young man, I’d guess high school age, that had just got his John Deere B running for the first time since performing his very first engine overhaul with the help of his father. This made me think of all the technological advancements made in agriculture in such a short time.

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Today we have tractors equipped with satellite transmitters and GPS that can literally drive themselves through a field with pinpoint accuracy. Our sprayers can turn off each nozzle one by one to prevent over application of chemicals, not only saving money but helping to keep some of the more aggressive environmentalist off our backs. The combines almost all have a fancy monitor in them that shows field yield and immediate yield, moisture level, fuel usage per hour, and much more. A few years ago I rode in, a then brand new, Case IH combine that belonged to a neighbor. As I was with him I heard a bunch of beeping and chirping coming from this computer screen in the cab. I asked him what was going on and he told me it was just an alert to let him know the tank was getting full. He also chuckled and told me a story have having his grandson with him a few days prior to my visit. His grandson thought the chirping was coming from a cell phone and after about an hour of riding in the combine the little boy instructed his grandfather to “either answer your phone or turn the stupid thing off.”

My father grew up on a farm here in Iowa and he tells me all the time the way things have changed over the years. He says that if someone had told him that someday we would be farming with tractors that produced 500+ hp he would have laughed at them. However, he is not the only one with such feelings. He grew up using a variety of equipment and implement brands that are no longer even in existence such as Oliver, Minneapolis Moline, Allis Chalmers, and many more. He also used implements that are rarely ever used any more such as; corn pickers and shellers and mounted cultivators. If I go back another generation to my grandfather, who still works hard every day even though he is nearing his 85th birthday, he could tell you of even more changes. He remembers being a young boy and his father bringing home a brand new John Deere A. The A was a game changer on the family farm and shortly there after came a B as well as a host of other equipment. He remembers thinking they had the best there would ever be while running these 2-popper tractors. He laughs to think that his current lawn mower has a higher hp rating than that John Deere B.
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I recently got done doing a partial restoration to an old John Deere 999 corn planter that my grandfather had given me around 7-8 years ago. It has found a home as a yard ornament out front by the road for all to see. A buddy of mine stopped over one day shortly after I put it out in the yard and being a young farmer himself he went over to check it out. “Pretty amazing isn’t it”, he said. I had no clue what he was talking about and just shot him a funny glance. He explained he was talking about the planter and how odd it seemed. Originally it was designed to be pulled by horses and later my great grandfather had converted it to be pulled by a tractor. My friend was in awe. He stated that it would take nearly a full day to plant 10 acres with a couple horses and this contraption and I suspect he could be right.

If you were to talk to many of these retired farmers they would tell you that the price of modern equipment (even old used equipment), as well as inputs, and seed is ridiculous, but I bet if you tell them about these drones that are offered for multiple uses from crop scouting to chemical application they would have a tough time believing you. I would also wager when you told them a simple crop scouting drone was $4,000 dollars they would tell you how they bought a brand new Farmall 350 for around $3,000.

What I find very interesting is even with all these technological advances in agriculture much of the old technology is still used every day. For example, my father owns a 1965 Famall 656 equipped with a Westendorf loader. It is nearly 50 years old and still has a use on the farm. My uncle has a couple of 1960’s John Deere 3020’s that quite literally get used every day. There are a ton of tractors and even some implements still playing a vital role on even the biggest farming operations across the country that are 40-60 years old or more. Some things just don’t need changing.

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From the days of the first Deere & Co. plow to now it is amazing that with each innovation farmers have always thought “we have the best that there will ever be,” and yet we should know by now that what the future holds can potentially change how we do things forever. I may have thought that a drone used to scout crops with a such a high price tag seemed crazy, but I realize it is here to stay for the long term and may very well find its way into everyday life of the American crop producer. I still have my doubts about the magical levitating combines though.