Posts Tagged With: Technology

Next Generation Farming: Yesterday’s Wisdom + Today’s Technology = Our Future

We are so excited to announce our 28th annual winter seminar has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 26, 2016 8:30am-5:00pm in Sandwich, Illinois. With yesterday’s wisdom and today’s technology, your farming future is a bright one. This is one event you won’t want to miss!

AER 2016 Winter Seminar

Learn from an outstanding speaker line-up why we believe biological farming is the future of economical, high-quality food production. Hear experts on soil health, new marketing opportunities, new soil tests, reducing risks, and more. Our detailed agenda will be announced in December.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Timber Creek Inn & Suites (attached to the Convention Center) at our group rate (includes hot breakfast buffet) of $119 + tax until January 8 or $169 + tax after January 8. Call 630-273-6006 to make your reservation. There are no other lodging options in Sandwich, however, some hotels are available along Interstates 88, 55, 80, and 90. Timber Creek Inn & Suites is located at 3300 Drew Avenue, Sandwich, Illinois 60548.

We sincerely hope you will be able to join us in January!

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Let’s go “back to the future”

Today, October 21, 2015, is the day the movie Back to the Future II was set to take place when it was shot and released in 1989.

For those of you that aren’t aware, this movie is about the adventures of a time traveler as he travels 26 years into the future to protect his future children from trouble. Needless to say some of the things predicted in the movie, like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, were completely preposterous (at the time). Well today, October 21, 2015, the Chicago Cubs are vying for their chance at winning it all. First time playing in the post-season since 2008.

Twenty-Six years ago, we were just beginning to find our stride in biological farming. With many, many years of research and experience, 26 years ago is when it all came together. 26 years. We had combines, but we had to physically drive them at all times. Auto-steer wasn’t invented. We had no fancy cell phones to connect with everyone on our team. We had to physically talk with them.

Photo credit: Back to the Future II movie

Photo credit: Back to the Future II movie

Now, 26 years later, we don’t even have to be in our combines to drive them. We can connect with multiple people by the click of a button. We’ve even experienced the hover board and automatic shoe-lace concepts that were referred to in the movie as well.

Who knows what we’ll be experiencing in another 26 years, but we have some pretty lofty dreams in agriculture:

“In the year 2041, agriculturalists will have realized that insects and disease are not the result of a pesticide deficiency or lack of genetic traits. They will have found soil health and proper crop nutrition do a much better job of protecting plants from both insects and disease. We’ll also have learned that the resultant plants have a much higher nutrient density and are greatly beneficial to the livestock and humans that eat them, helping to improve human health. The medical field will also look at nutrition as the first line of defense for human health instead of what the pharmaceuticals used in the past.” – Ken Musselman, AER Agronomist

“I want a scanner like on Star Trek, where you just point it at the soil and plants, and it knows exactly what is needed in microbes and fertility for maximum health. Then a fleet of drones (with scanners) hovering over the fields will be spraying on the right stuff instantly.” – Gary Campbell, AER Agronomist

“I’d like to see small individual machines that run by themselves in between the rows, operated by GPS and sensors. These machines will then come back to the mother machine to fill up when empty. They could be designed to do a number of things – dry or liquid fertilizer, spread or drill cover crops, light cultivation, mowing, flaming etc. This would also help mitigate compaction.” – Eric Johnston, AER Agronomist

“With all these small machines, scanners, drones, sensors…I’d like to see a method that automatically keeps track of the expenses for every single application, product, tillage, etc. as that process is completed!!! With it being so individualized, that the expenses could be viewed for the entire farm, and then ‘drilled down’ by field, by acre, by crop. You would then have records showing the costs/income for every area (big or small) of ground that is farmed in a way that could be easily analyzed and compared along with information for projections. All of this to be done automatically without any human input, so there is no chance of information or costs slipping through the cracks. All while the farmer is having his second cup of coffee!” – Annette Lord, AER Accountant

“I’d like to see a machine that takes a picture of your garden and/or freezer filled with farm fresh meat that does all your meal planning for you. It will break out an entire week of meals using what you have available. That would almost make cooking fun!” – Katlyn Sanden, AER Communication Strategist

What would you like to see in the year 2041? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

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AgriEnergy Resources Conference Giveaway

ACRES U.S.A. Conference is right around the corner and this year we are giving away 2 passes to ACRES to one lucky farmer, which will also guarantee a travel voucher for 2 (travel & lodging) to AgriEnergy’s annual winter seminar in January.

ACRES U.S.A. is North America’s oldest publisher on production-scale organic and sustainable farming. For more than four decades their mission has been help farmers, ranchers, and market gardeners grow food organically, sustainably, without harmful, toxic chemistry.

A glimpse into what this year's trade show could look like...Last year's birds eye view.

A glimpse into what this year’s trade show could look like…Last year’s birds eye view.

If you’ve ever attended before, you know what a world-class educational and networking event it is. If you’ve never been, trust us, you’ll walk away with so many ideas to maximize profits for the 2016 season. Jam packed with seminars and workshops, you will get the opportunity to “pick the brains” of the most innovative farmers, consultants, soil & crop advisors, authors, nutritionists, holistic veterinarians, researchers, beekeepers, geologists, soil microbiologists, and more.

The conference will be held December 9-11 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and our seminar will be held the last week of January in Illinois. To qualify for your chance to win the jackpot, tell us the first thing you’d do when you get to ACRES (if you win) on Facebook and/or Twitter using the hashtag #AERatACRES and fill out this short questionnaire.

Good luck!

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It’s that time of year again…

Time for the Farm Science Review in London, Ohio. Originating in 1962, the Farm Science Review now draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers, and agricultural enthusiasts from across the country and Canada. With 4,000 product lines from roughly 620 commercial exhibitors and engaging workshops, presentations, and demonstrations, there is something for everyone.

This is one event we look forward to each year.

We'll have a booth in the Fowler Seeds Tent again this year, along with Barenbrug and Master's Choice.

We’ll have a booth in the Fowler Seeds Tent again this year, along with Barenbrug and Master’s Choice.

The Farm Science Review will run through Thursday, September 24. For a list of new equipment and technology to be featured this year, click here.

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Hatzenbichler products taking organics by storm

Today’s organic farmers operate some of the most high tech machines seen in the industry. Technology that includes GPS RTK guided planters and cultivators, rotary hoes, sophisticated spray rigs, and tine weeders. Seriously, check out this video of the tine weeder that the Hatzenbichler company put together.

See this product and other state-of-the art equipment up close during the Doudlah Farms/Dramm Corporation/AgriEnergy Resources Organic Field Day 10am-3pm Tuesday, August 11 at Cooksville Community Center, 11204 N. Church Street, Evansville, Wisconsin.

Mark Doudlah, of Doudlah Farms, will be demonstrating his very own Hatzenbichler tine weeder in dry beans (weather permitting) and Matt Sattelberg, of Bay Shore Sales, will discuss weed control and dry bean harvesting. Bay Shore Sales, located in Michigan, carries a full line of Hatzenbichler products.

Sattelberg will also be at the Matt and James Beran/Souhrada Custom Spraying & Ag Products/Dramm Corporation/AgriEnergy Resources Organic Field Day Tuesday, August 4 10am-3pm at Beran Bros. Farm, 10083 110th Street, Lime Springs, Iowa. Please RSVP for both field days by calling AgriEnergy Resources 815-872-1190.

For more information about our upcoming field days, click here.

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Equipment to be discussed at upcoming field days

We’ve been receiving several questions regarding what kind of machinery will be displayed and talked about at our upcoming field days in August.

Among the extensive list will be a RiteWay Crimper to be displayed at the Doudlah Farms/Dramm Corporation/AgriEnergy Resources Organic Field Day on August 11 in Evansville, Wisconsin. Mark Doudlah, of Doudlah Farms, will be demonstrating the piece. Check out what he has to say about it in the video below.

In addition to the RiteWay Crimper, GPS RTK guided 15-inch row, Planter and Cultivator, Hatzenbichler Tine Weeder, Air Reel Header, and Sprayers will also be displayed and demonstrated. This field day will be held from 10am-3pm Tuesday, August 11 at Cooksville Community Center, 11204 N. Church Street, Evansville, Wisconsin.

If interested in the Einbock Tine Weeder, Cultivator with orbital Gandy system, Windrower and Rodder, Floater, Sprayers, or the Rotary Hoe, the Matt & James Beran/Souhrada Custom Spraying & Ag Products/Dramm Corporation/AgriEnergy Resources Organic Field Day would be for you. This field day will be held from 10am-3pm Tuesday, August 4 at Beran Bros. Farm, 10083 110th Street, Lime Springs, Iowa.

Please RSVP by July 27 to AgriEnergy Resources at 815-872-1190.

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Exploring Janie’s Farm

On Friday, a few of us had the opportunity to attend a field day at Janie’s Farm Organics, hosted by the Harold and Sandy Wilken family of Danforth, Illinois. Together, with a few employees, they run a large-scale organic operation that includes corn, soybeans, wheat with cover crops, pumpkins, black dry beans, alfalfa hay, popcorn, and seed corn. They also happen to be on the cutting edge of the latest technology, including RTK guidance, yield mapping, and grain bin monitoring.

On a personal note, I was so excited to put my video skills to good use and wouldn’t ya know it, it rained the entire day!! Needless to say we couldn’t take any of the equipment out so we had to settle with a few pics instead.

Ross and Harold Wilken - the father-son duo explain what it takes to transition to organics.

Ross and Harold Wilken, the father-son duo, explain the challenges and rewards associated with organic farming.

The Wilkens have 1,940 certified organic acres, 380 in second-year transition, 80 in first-year transition, and 80 acres to transition in 2016. Both Harold and Ross said peer pressure was one of the biggest deterring factors when looking to transition, but after much thought they are so happy they did. They aren’t the only ones who have considered going 100% organic. They had nearly double the people at their field day than expected!

There was well over 100 people in attendance. This pic doesn't quite do it justice.

There were well over 100 people in attendance. This pic doesn’t quite do it justice.

So if you’re thinking about transitioning, here are a few basic rules that the Wilken family has learned along the way (as told by Harold & Ross):

Learning: Go online or find a certifier and get a copy of the National Organic Program, read the rules. Have a copy on your night stand or in the bathroom. Find an existing farmer and sign up for a mentoring program. Go to conferences. Look to the people that sponsored this meeting (Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, Illinois Organic Growers Association, The Land Connection, University of Illinois Extension, Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network). There is a lot of help out there.

Transition: Transition period is 36 months from the last application of herbicide or commercial fertilizer. Use organic seed during transition. If none is available, use non-GMO. Naturally mined inputs can be used – lime, gypsum from mine, not a by-product of industry. All inputs must be pre-approved by your certifier. Manure is recommended – raw, composted, or pelletized. At some point you have to feed the soil. There are also naturally derived fertilizers available. Pick a certifier and communicate with them. They will help you make sure a product is approved. Do not take the word of a good old boy. He will not help you re-transition.

Rotation: Start with a 3- or 4-year rotation. Four-year is the best if finances allow it. Remember you are trying to build soil. Our standard when starting transition is to start with soybeans in year one. In year two, seed with wheat or oats oversown with red clover or alfalfa. You can mix it up with another clover; white or crimson. We are too far north (Danforth, Illinois) for hairy vetch. We have tried seeding cover crops after wheat, but have had sporadic results. In an ideal world, we would add orchard grass or timothy but if you don’t leave it a year, it is probably not worth the cost. Under NOOO circumstance do you use Annual Ryegrass. Cereal Rye, yes.

If you have livestock or a hay market, this is a no brainer. Seed down first year with small grain, alfalfa/grass mix. Make horses happy for 2 years. Caution, do not seed all your acres to hay. I suggest in this case 1/3 of your acreage per year.

DO NOT FOLLOW CONVENTIONAL SOYBEANS WITH TRANSITIONAL CORN. Root worms will not throw you a dinner party at the end of the year for feeding them.

Machinery: Use what you have. Add only what you need in transition. Custom-hire at first. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Wash out planter boxes, vacuum out the combine, and purge it. Wash anything you are going to use for organic production. At least make sure you have no GMO contamination. If you are going to sell organic hay, plan on large square bales. Round bales do not work well on a semi.

If you look real close, you can see the GPS inside the cab mounted on the right. They said this comes in especially helpful when working on hilly ground.

If you look real close, you can see the GPS inside the cab mounted on the right. They said this comes in especially helpful when working on hilly ground.

Storage: You will need it! Plan on grain bins or nail the cracks shut on the overhead bins in the crib. Good News: Hot rods do not want to fill bins. Rent them. Have a building for hay.

Marketing: Find a buyer. MOFC, Clarkson Grain, Schoular Grain, Sun Opta, All Star Trading. Most of these people will help you market your transition as well as organic grain in Iroquois County.

Our big takeaway from the day was that organics is continuously growing and we are so excited to help guide you through the transitioning process with all your fertility needs!

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100-year-old farmer accounts for last 10 decades

This man is incredible. He’s spent his life farming and has no plans of stopping. In the past 10 decades Elmo Snelling said technology has been the biggest change in agriculture.

Thank you Texas Farm Bureau for putting together this video and sharing his story!

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Windfinder App Predicting Wind Patterns

We all probably have our favorite go-to weather app we use on a daily basis, but does your weather app predict the wind forecasts? We’ve found an app that does just that and has become our new go-to tool when deciding whether or not to apply herbicides and/or pesticides.

Windfinder is a free app for iPhones and Androids that provides real-time and predicted wind/weather forecasts for more than 30,000 locations worldwide using data from 17,000 weather stations. It measures wind speed, direction, air temperature and pressure, cloud cover, and precipitation.

Here is a screenshot of the app.

Wind information is displayed neatly within the app.

In addition to farmers, Windfinder is used by kite surfers, windsurfers, surfers, sailors, and paragliders. Do you use the app? If not, what are your favorite go-to apps?

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Some Useful Farm Apps

Want to be more efficient this spring? We’ve found the following apps to be extremely helpful and real time-savers.

  • Calibrate My Sprayer – This app was created to aid in the proper calibration of spraying equipment. Improperly calibrated spraying equipment may cause Calibrate My Sprayereither too little or too much fertilizer or pesticide to be applied. With this free app, simply select the type of spray you want to calibrate (broadcast or banded), insert values in each input box, select what you want the app to calculate (volume/area or catch/nozzle), and tap ‘Calculate’. Each input’s units can be customized by tapping the units. Sprayers can be saved with user-defined names. It can be downloaded on the iPhone here and Android here.
  • TeeJet Technologies (Spray Select) – This free app allows you to TeeJet Technologies (Spray Select)quickly and easily choose the proper tip or nozzle for your application. Just enter speed, spacing and your target rate, select your drop size category, and you have a list of tips that will work for your application. It can be downloaded on the iPhone here and Android here.


What about you? Do you already use these apps? We hope you find these as beneficial as we have.

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