Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

As a farmer, what do you think your calling is? This is something I have not thought. Am I here just to have 40 chances to raise a crop? Am I here just to provide for my family? Do I just want to play with cool new toys whether they be big combines, drones or new seed technologies? OR is my calling a higher calling?

On Thursday we had the opportunity to meet with 3 different groups:
Korea Feed Association (KFA)
-Nonghyup Feed Inc (NOFI)
Sunkwang Co Ltd port grain handling facility at Incheon

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What was interesting with these meetings is that they all had the similar messages and similar concerns. While they really like US corn there have been major issues especially with broken kernels as of late. Trying to reason through this has become a challenge. Does the corn have a lower protein content due to higher yields? Is it due to breeding corn more to ethanol production? Is it because of the specific location that the corn is grown? Or is it due to the fact that 2013 required a lot of corn to be heat dried in many areas that deliver to the Pacific Northwrest (PNW)?

I think everyone in our group would agree this lead to a lot more questions than answers for us. It also lead us to realize that there are many things we cannot control when trying to deliver a product to a specific market. Each hybrid has different qualities when mixed together may have a positive effect on grain going to a specific market or it may have a negative effect. This is something that as the American farmer we may not be able to control.

While I cannot control a lot of these issues, I do understand their frustrations and questions. But even as we heard these issues there was one important statement that stuck with me. It was when we met with NOFI. One of the gentleman we met with, Na Sumin, made the following statement:

The US farmer’s calling is to save the world

We always talk about “feeding the world” but I have never had anyone say we are to “save the world”. This really stuck with me. We are the innovators of the world, whether it is biotechnology or equipment or software, it is who we are. We have the ability to spread that knowledge throughout the world. This knowledge is what will allow other farmers in other areas to become more efficient in their production so their families, neighbors and communities can eat better and have a higher quality of life. This is something I believe each of us as the American farmer needs to take a hard look at. What am I doing to help “save the world?”

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Market place at night

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Tokyo Here I Come

Posted: September 8, 2014 in agriculture, farming, seed, technology, water

As many people know, agriculture, especially corn, is near and dear to my heart. Getting to talk to groups about what we do in Nebraska and specifically on our farm is something I love to do. So when the opportunity arose for me to travel with US Grains Council on a trade mission to Japan and Korea I was more than willing to accept the challenge of presenting half way around the world.

One of the great partnerships the Nebraska Corn Board has is with the US Grains Council (USGC). We are proud supporters of them, understanding the importance of foreign markets to the farmers in the United States. With these foreign markets we have many great rewards and many challenges depending on the quality and quantity of the crop produced. Because of this, it is important to get farmers in front of the foreign markets from time to time.

This year I have the privilege to be one of those “faces of the American corn farmer”. As it turns out I also get to be the technology spokesman, which is something that I thoroughly enjoy. And I get to spend this time with 4 other farmers from some of the major corn growing states. They are
– Denny Vennekotter, Ohio Corn Marketing Program
– Dan Cole, Illinois Corn Growers Association
– Kevin Hurst, Missouri Corn Growers Association

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– Carl Jardon, Iowa Corn Growers Association
Also on the trip are
– Sean Broderick, CHS

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– Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey, Director of Industry Relations, USGC
– Manuel Sanchez, Manager of Global Trade, USGC

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– Tetsuo (Tommy) Hamamoto, Director USGC Japan

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After a long day of travel with a couple hour “maintenance” delay in Denver, we hit the ground in Tokyo, made it through customs, changed the dollar to Yen and crashed at the hotel.

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Outside our hotel

On Monday morning we found my home away from home…Starbucks. It did cost me about 50% more than back home but it was worth it. After this we had our briefing meeting at USGC’s Tokyo Office followed by an amazing lunch.

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This all lead up to our first official presentation in the afternoon in front of different Japanese groups and media. This was a great time which allowed me to appreciate the challenges in communication. As I was presenting in English they needed to translate into Japanese. The challenge was speaking mainly in 2 sentence bullet points so as not to get too far ahead of the interpreter. But it was a great and receptive audience which had very good questions.

Kevin Hurst gave a great “farmer” look at the 2014 corn crop followed by an overall look at the corn crop from Manuel Sanchez. After this was a great look from Sean Broderick at DDGs with the pricing, usage worldwide and consistency of the overall product.

The importance of explaining how we do things in America to produce our corn crop should never be forgotten or minimized. We need to continue to spread this message whether to our neighbors down the street or our neighbors across the globe.

Tomorrow is another day of meetings but with more face to face time instead of a seminar format. We will see what tomorrow holds.

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One of the major challenges I face every day is the fact that just over 2 years ago I had a stroke.  It wasn’t a major debilitating stroke nor was it a TIA (transient ischemic attack).  It was just powerful enough to wipe out a  1/4 of my eyesight and the quick recall area of the brain.  This may not necessarily seem like a big issue but when it comes to farming, and life in general,  it can be a challenge.

I have always prided myself on being the right-brained, big picture thinker that can recall just about anything I needed to.   Even though we were keeping records, both written and electronic,  from spraying to planting to irrigating to harvesting on the farm, I could most generally tell you what I had planted in any field, what we had sprayed (names and rates), and then at the end of the year recalled what each field yielded and probably what I approximately made per field.  This worked great as we did research, met with seed dealers, discussed ideas with Extension, and worked with the Technology Association we are involved with because I did not have to carry around a big binder with all the information in it.

But in one 2 minute period on February 3rd, 2011 changed all of that.  No longer do I have the privilege and ability to quickly recall the info I need. It is much like storing a file in the computer and then trying to locate it without remembering the name of the file, the name of the folder or even what drive you stored it in and the search function on the computer glitches out.  The brain then has to compensate for that. How, I am not exactly sure, but brain overload happens a lot more frequently then it did in the past.

What does this have to do with farming or technology?  Is wasn’t that many years ago, if I had a stroke,  I would have been having to write things down and then remember where I left my notebook(s) and which one contained what information or if they all contained part of the information I need.  Of course, it would help if I was naturally organized and left brained but that is another subject for another day.  Now in farming we have so many tools that it keeps the information literally right at my fingertips.  Yes, some of the apps are expensive as are some of the farm programs, but I can easily carry and access all the information that I used to store in my head.  Does it frustrate me that I cannot remember what I want to when I need to or that I may have very unproductive and bad days? Of course it does, but now I am able to record and keep all the information I need at any time.

Even though my brain feels fried more than it should, I am now finally learning how to effectively utilize my iPhone (Informant Pro, Notes, GeoNotes, others), iPad (FieldView, JD Mobile Farm, Evernote, others)  and laptop to make myself much more functional. Each of these apps serves a specific purpose.  In the coming weeks I will look a little deeper at each of these plus others I am utilizing or will be utilizing on the farm. Stay tuned.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions” —Albert Einstein

As we entered into the planting season this year, we had the opportunity to put some of the newest, and hopefully greatest, seed technology into the ground. This is the technology that helps us in making sure we are taking care of the environment in a healthy and sustainable manner. Anything we can do to help reduce our usage of chemicals and continue to increase yields are something we will continue to look at.

We started out this year by actually planting some of the newest in seed technology from Monsanto and DowAgro, known as SmartStax. This is an 8-way stack with a great explanation here. This allows us to have protection against may pests that cause damage to the plants. Damage that can cause us economic harm. Damage that can cause the plant, and subsequently the grain, harm as well. Ultimately, we have a healthier plant that will ultimately lead to healthier feed for our livestock and a better product to produce ethanol and bio-plastics as well.

We have had the opportunity this year to look at other new and exciting products that will be coming down the line in the coming years. One plot has what is called “refuge in a bag“. This will allow us in the future to make sure we are easily following the refuge guidelines needed to keep these technologies viable for years to come.

As we continue to look at the newest in seed technology it is exciting to see where it will take us. Up to this point, it has mainly been input traits we have looked at. The kind of traits that protect against insects and allow us to utilize different chemicals. The next thing to see will be the output traits. Traits that will ultimately help the end user and consumer.

These are exciting times in the merging of technology and agriculture. Being able to grow a safe and healthy product is something that I am proud to do.