TECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE: GPS & AUTO-STEER

Technology helps us in a variety of realms, with farming being one of the most important ones for consumers. A program that aligns with technology that assists us all on a daily basis is auto-steer, which works like a GPS system in the fields. Through the use of GPS tracking and recording equipment, farmers were able to track and take note of the way they utilized the equipment manually, and this data drove the success of auto-steering (literally). Some of the many benefits include:

  1. Advanced positioning that prevents overlapping between passes or lands.

This allows farmers to reduce seed loss, and it allows them to work more productively and efficiently. With this efficient system, farmers can spend less time in the field while still maintaining high levels of production.

  1. Automatic adjusting in different directions.

Just like we want our cars to manually drive for us and gauge which direction to move in on its own, farmers wanted the same. With auto-steer, they are able to dedicate their attention to other farm duties and obligations. This allows a farmer to be more relaxed, and it increases productivity in other aspects because the focus no longer revolves around steering manually.

  1. Controlled traffic.

While we all hate traffic for our own personal reasons, it is especially bad in farming because it can cause compaction, which is when soil particles are pressed together and pore space is reduced. This causes reduced rates of water infiltration and drainage from the compacted layer. This can lead to many problems, such as flooding and lack of water being absorbed.

Much less seed is being wasted, which helps everyone save money and makes for a much more efficient and productive system!

  1. Higher yields of production.

 Auto-steer reduces depreciation and wear and tear on machinery, and it also prevents doubling or missing chemical applications, which all result in reduced yields.

In the end, auto-steer brings farming to a whole new level of effectiveness. Interestingly enough, farming technology aligns significantly with the technology we use in our everyday lives. As technology continues to grow in agriculture, the quality of our food continues to improve with it. The work of farmers goes hand in hand with the happiness and health of people all around the world. It is important that we understand the role it plays in the fields, regardless of which field we’re in!

Samantha Gorlovetsky
University of Illinois

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTING AGRICULTURE: GRAIN YIELD MONITORS

The world is constantly changing. New technology is introduced daily that makes people’s lives easier. The agriculture industry specifically uses new technology in many ways. Farming technology has come a long way from the horse and steel plow to autosteer tractors. Farmers take advantage of technology to help them be successful.

One specific piece of technology that helps farmers is a grain yield monitor. {Insert picture of grain yield monitor} A grain yield monitor is a device with sensors that calculates and records the crop yield or grain yield as the combine operates. The monitor measures the harvested grain mass flow, moisture content, and speed to determine how much grain is being harvested.

A grain yield monitor can be very beneficial to a farmer. Jeff Austman, a farmer from Livingston County, shared with me his thoughts on technology in agriculture and how it has helped his farming operation succeed. “I started farming in 1993 with minimal technology.” As time progressed and new technology emerged, Austman began using a grain yield monitor. The yield monitor collects data while the combine is running and automatically sends the yield map to Austman’s iPad for him to analyze.

By looking at the yield map, Austman discovered that a pond hole was causing lower yields in one part of the field. To fix the problem, he tiled the area. “By tiling that specific area,” explained Austman, “yields increased so much that the tiling project was almost completely paid off in one year.” The grain yield monitor allowed him to find areas that brought in the highest yields but also allowed him to improve areas that were less productive.

Austman is just one the of many farmers across the United States using technology in his farming operation. Technology plays a key role in enabling farmers to farm successfully. As time goes on, more and more technology will be introduced that will allow farmers to continue improving their operations.

Laine Honneger
University of Illinois

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF A FARMING SEASON

It’s the day after Christmas and we’re already thinking about the next farming season. Want to know what goes into a farming season in just a few short minutes? Check out virtual video series on farming!

#360Corn is a series of 360-degree videos featuring our own Illinois corn farmer, Justin Durdan.  Justin lets us plant corn with him, spray for pests, fertilize those little baby corn plants, and even harvest and sell his crop – all while we can look 360 degrees around the tractor cab, the farm and even the field.

Check out the entire experience here.

TECHNOLOGY CHANGES AGRICULTURE: UAVs

In today’s day and age, technology is a large part of the world that we live. Everywhere that you turn, people are soaking up all of the features that have technology has to offer. Many industries have seen many advancements in the area of technology and the agriculture industry is definitely no stranger to this type of development. Through technology, the agriculture industry has seen an introduction of new ways to prosper.

A specific area in agriculture that has been affected by technology is the area of crop production.

Picture this- it is the middle of summer and the sky is clear for miles to see. Suddenly, you notice a small aerial object flying over a nearby crop field and you wonder exactly what this item could possibly be.

You think, well maybe it is just a large bird.

Or maybe the object is just a small airplane.

It turns out that the aerial device that you saw was a new item that has been introduced into the agriculture industry. This device is known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAV.

This type of vehicle is useful to crop farmers all around the country. With a UAV, remote controller and laptop individuals in the crop sector of the industry are able to look at crops from a bird’s eye view. The ability to look at a field from this perspective is much more ideal than having to spend hours upon hours walking through rows of a field to investigate the progress that the crops are making.

Not only does this device allow individuals to see the world from a bird’s eye view, but video capability is also available so that footage of the field can be viewed later and in more depth.

By using an UAV and this viewing capability, an individual in the agronomy side of the industry is able to look for things such as crop damage. An individual is also able to see the different spots of damage that a field may have and just how big of an area is affected.

Along with being able to view the amount of crop damage in a field without physically going through the field, some UAV’s also have the ability to monitor plant health. Through the addition of an infrared camera, one can also investigate different specifics of plant health such as soil fertility and use this information to understand just how much fertilizer needs to be added to a field in order to increase the nutrients in the soil and achieve the highest crop yield possible.

So, the next time that you are outside, and someone points out an object in the sky that easily resembles a large bird or a small airplane, you can inform them of the different benefits that this type of device that is contributing to the success of the agriculture industry. Just like any other aspect of the world, the agriculture industry is continuing to see new technological developments, like the introduction of UAV’s, in order to feed the world’s growing population.

Below is a video that goes into even greater detail about the contribution that UAV’s have towards the agriculture industry: https://www.facebook.com/MarylandFarmHarvest/videos/1499311513489734/

Sierra Day
Lake Land College

CURRENT CORN PRICES: THE BEST BLACK FRIDAY DEAL

Black Friday, also known as the Super Bowl for shoppers, is quickly approaching. Shoppers are actively searching and price checking to see which stores are going to have the best deals to start their holiday shopping. Black Friday shoppers are currently making a game plan of what stores they need to shop at and where to get the best deals as possible to be used as gifts for their loved ones during this season of giving.

But what makes Black Friday Deals so great?

Companies are creating more of their products so they can sell at a lower price so it attracts customers not only to their product but to their company as a whole. Is this ideal for the company right away? Probably not, but with the long-term goal in mind it probably favors them.

Current corn prices are a lot like Black Friday deals. Buyers are getting a heck of a deal on corn, but the Company (corn farmers in this case) are really taking a cut in what they should be taking because prices are so low.

But why are Corn Prices so low?

There is a couple of factors that play into this one.

  1. Drought

Throughout the world, there has not been a significant drought for at least 18-24 months. When a drought happens, corn does not grow or produce as much as it normally would. When all of the countries around the world are all producing crops at a normal or even higher rate, prices are bound to get lower because no one is suffering from a shortage. Though it’s good that droughts are not impacting a specific country, it’s really taking a toll on the corn market.

  1. Technology

With the advancement of crop technology such as the use of GMO’s, corn has been able to produce higher yields. With more corn being grown more than before all around the world, we have created an overabundance which results in lower prices. On the contrary, though, farmers are wanting to grow more corn though so they have more to sell, even though prices are very low.

This year’s corn crop has made an abundance more than it normally does (though it has not set a record high). Corn prices really stink right now, but we are hoping to be prepared in the future when someone bad happens to a corn crop anywhere in the world. Prices are bound to get higher in the future because that is how this cycle works. Farmers have to practice patience and trust that one day the deal is going to play in their favor, just like what Black Friday shoppers do each and every year.

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

WHAT WAS FARMING LIKE 10/25/100 YEARS AGO?

 

Change is the only constant in a perpetually evolving world.  Just as life and traditions change, so do farming practices. In today’s day in age, farmers have easy access to tractors and large machinery, which make the profession of farming much easier. Agriculturists also have the technology of fertilizers, that ensure the crops receive necessary nutrients. Advancements in chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides are used to rid fields of unwanted weeds and pests. However, farming has not always been this precise of a science. It’s interesting to look back and see how far farmers have come in the past century.

Early in the 20th-century farmers used a system of planting called hill dropping of checked corn. This system required a wire to be strung from one end of a field to the other, and it would be strung through a planter powered by a team of horses. This wire would release a small pile of corn, hence the term ‘hill’, in 42-inch rows. But why 42 inches? Because that’s the average width of a horse! These checked rows allowed for cultivators to be easily pulled through the field. Since there were no herbicides to kill weeds, farmers relied solely upon cultivators to uproot the nuisances. More in-depth information on this practice can be found here!

Fast forward to about 25 years ago, when farming seems to have vastly improved from the seemingly primitive ways of the early 1900’s. Instead of farming in 42-inch rows, corn grew within 30-inch rows. This allowed for more plants to grow in each field, which lead to an increase in yields. By this point in time, farmers were using tractors to pull their planters, which greatly increased the efficiency of their time and efforts.  However, these aren’t the only technological benefits! In the 1990’s farmers started utilizing satellite technology to increase their accuracy, which made the farming profession a very meticulous one. Additionally, the number of farmers trying conservation tillage methods continued to rise. This simply means that producers leave more plant residue in the field, with intentions to prevent erosion. This extra plant material will add organic matter to the soil, which will also improve the land’s productivity. On top of all these advancements, in 1997 the first insect and weed resistant crops become commercially available. If you’re particularly interested in learning more about how farming improved in the 90’s, I suggest you check out this link!

Farming in the early 2000’s… was it really that much different from farming today? To start off with, one of the most important pieces of legislation regarding farming practices was passed. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, also referred to as the Farm Bill, created rules and regulations for anything from conservation practices, to organic agriculture, to crop insurance. This bill promoted innovative solutions to resource challenges, established a new disaster assistance program, expanded the opportunities for farmers’ markets, and much more!  Further information about the full impacts of the 2008 Farm Bill can be found here. Without these past accomplishments, the agriculture industry would certainly not be the same as it is today.

Rosie Roberts
Iowa State University

TOUR A PIG FARM FROM YOUR COUCH

 

Ever wanted to visit a farm but (a) don’t know any farmers to ask or (b) don’t have any farms near you? Well, Illinois Farm Families (IFF) and the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) are giving you the opportunity to tour a pig farm without leaving the comfort of your home!

Illinois Farm Families is a collaborative effort between several Illinois ag associations to reach consumers and provide information to non-farmers that have questions and want to learn.

On September 28th, IFF live broadcasted the tour from their Facebook account. The almost 40-minute session gave insight to not only the life of livestock farmer but gave viewers the chance to have their questions answered by livestock and agriculture experts, ranging from concerns about nutrition to light-hearted inquiries about the smell of the farm.

You can watch the video about or check it out on IFF’s Facebook page.

Learn more about Illinois Farm Families.

SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

If you’re interested in ag and you’d like to have real news and updates delivered to your Facebook or Twitter feed, then these are the social media accounts to follow!

 

Farm Babe

Farm Babe works on the family farm and uses social media to bridge the gap between Farmers & consumers. She is a writer and public speaker for agriculture.

Michelle Miller was once a big city girl and moved to rural Iowa for love. Once there, she learned that her original thoughts of Modern agriculture were very inaccurate (based on mainstream Hollywood media and marketing) and now enjoys debunking myths and spreading facts about REAL Farms from REAL farmers.

CropLife America

If you’re interested in more information about chemicals, why farmers use them, and a more balanced viewpoint, CropLife America is your stop.  CLA’s member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers.

CLA is dedicated to supporting responsible stewardship of our products to promote the health and well-being of people and the environment, and to promote increasingly responsible, science-driven legislation and regulation of pesticides.

The Pollinator Partnership

We protect the habitats of managed and native pollinating animals vital to our incredibly vibrant North American ecosystems and agriculture. (Pollinating animals are responsible for an estimated one out of every third bite of food and over 75% of all flowering plants.) 

Dairy Carrie

I never thought I’d be a dairy farmer. I grew up in Madison, WI with no real ties to agriculture. I WAS the average American, generations removed from the farm. Then one day when I was 15 I met a guy…and started dating his friend. Fast forward several years and more questionable dating choices and I married the guy I met all those years ago. He wasn’t a dairy farmer (at the time) but his parents were.

My background was in sales and marketing, but my love of animals drew me to trying out farm life shortly after we got married. It stuck and I found out that I was born to be a caretaker of cows and the land.

Waterways Council Inc

Because we talk about needing upgraded locks and dams A LOT and these guys are the authority on what exactly farmers need, why they need it, and how we’re going to get it.

Waterways Council represents agriculture, the barge industry, and even the conservation community who are all working together to restore our river system to its former commerce and habitat glory.

 GMO Answers

Many of you are interested in GMOs in your food and what impact they might have for you and for the environment.

The goal of GMOAnswers is to make information about GMOs in food and agriculture easier to access and understand. GMOAnswers is committed to answering questions about GMOs — no matter what they are.

 

AG SPIES: A REAL THING

As the agriculture industry becomes more diverse the need to gain the most knowledge and the best products has become a very tempting business. Many people across the world, specifically people in China, have been caught trying to take away research and ideas in order to progress their work. The FBI warns of “agricultural economic espionage ‘a growing threat’ and some are worried that biotech piracy can spell big trouble for a dynamic and growing U.S. industry.”

Ventria Bioscience president and CEO Scott Deeter displays some of the bio-engineered rice developed in his company’s laboratory. CREDIT BRYAN THOMPSON FOR HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Recently a group of Chinese scientists traveled to Hawaii for business. On their way back to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage that were not supposed to be there. Because of this offense, at least one of those scientists is going to be finding a new home in the federal prison system.

Sadly, this is not the only time one of these offenses have taken place. At Ventria Bioscience, scientists figured out how to “genetically engineer rice to grow human proteins for medical uses.” After hosting a meeting of scientists from the Chinese crops research institute it was found that Weiqian Zhang had rice seeds in his luggage. He is currently awaiting his sentencing in federal court.

Another issue that has occurred was back in 2011 where a field manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred International found Mo Hailong, a man with ties to China, digging up seed corn out of an Iowa field. In January 2016 he pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets involving corn seed that was created by Monsanto and Pioneer.

But why do they do this?

According to the assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Jason Griess, “There are countries in this world that are in dire need of this technology and one of the ways you go about obtaining it is to steal it.” With a huge population in China, they are very interested in getting better access to seeds and technology to grow and feed their growing population.

To read more about this topic check out the original article from KCUR 89.3

Abby Jacobs
IL Corn Communications Intern