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

AG CAREER PROFILES: WHAT DOES AN AG GRAPHIC DESIGNER DO?

Sharon Dodd began her career with Illinois Farm Bureau fifteen years ago in September of 2000.  She is a multi-talented individual with a passion for visual communication.

DEIDRA: How did you become who you are today—what did you do to get here?

6-9-16Dodd (Newton)_Sharon 2x3 11 (1)SHARON: I didn’t have an Agriculture background.  I worked at Kruger Marketing in Champaign before applying to Illinois Farm Bureau.  I worked hard to get where I am.  I paid my way through college, and I learned how competitive graphic design really is.  I worked as an Art Director, Ad Layout Artist, and a Typesetter for the Daily Vidette, a student newspaper at ISU.  I was an art major and a print management minor.  I did a lot of “spec” art, and I focused on the marketing side of the newspaper.  When I worked with Kreuger, I learned a lot about agriculture.  During meetings I would sit and listen to everything, absorbing it all.  I didn’t realize until later how much all of that would really help.

DEIDRA: What are some of the challenges and some of the rewards you face on a typical day?

SHARON: The rewards are the people in agriculture.  I like being a voice and an advocate for agriculture.  I like seeing results, seeing people smile from my work.  The challenge is that there is a lot of communication.  We’re trying to change legislative issues and the perception of agriculture.  It’s hard to see results and it can feel overwhelming.  We have to constantly keep putting that voice out there—creating and communicating agriculture.

DEIDRA: What are some of your favorite tools of the trade?

SHARON: I like Mac computers and the Adobe Creative Suite.  Photoshop is my all time favorite, and then second is InDesign.  I use Dreamweaver and other web tools, but they aren’t my favorite.  Photography is a huge inspiration.

DEIDRA: When drafting a project design, can you describe the process you go through to come up with your solution?

ag_graphic_designerSHARON: The first step is getting the content together.  If there is a marketing person involved, I really like to get the content and get a feel for how it’s being laid out.  Who am I talking to?  What is my point?  I like to be in the reader’s shoes.  How can I engage them in a brochure or a social media post?  I am a common sense designer, and I don’t like confusion.

After getting the content, I need to find out what the theme is.  I like to sit on a project for about 24 hours.  When you let your brain process you would be surprised what the next day brings in.  When I get a layout started, sometimes I will do a rough [draft] but won’t do the entire thing.  I will communicate with the marketing people and see their reactions, work with them for corrections, and try to get the right design for the project.

When I make a concept, I try to look for anything that can help.  I’m not afraid to ask questions to get the right idea, and I am comfortable drafting a concept in person.  I feel like a channel between the people and I have a good idea of what they are thinking and communicating.

DEIDRA: What would you say has been one of your biggest accomplishments as a graphic designer?

SHARON: The next generation excites me, they are savvy and in it together; I am excited about young leaders and “Ag in the Classroom.”  I know there are legislative issues, but I feel like I am making a difference here.

DEIDRA: What kind of advice would you give to an aspiring graphic designer?

SHARON: The number one thing is to be a good communicator and a good listener.  If you’re negative, or if people can’t brainstorm with you, or if you are afraid of change then it will set you back.  You need to be adaptable because technology is constantly changing.  The second thing is you have to be creative.  If advertising, photography, or art inspires you, if it’s driving you, then all you need is to communicate.

Are you considering a career in agriculture?
Sonnemaker_Deidra 2x3 16

Deidra Sonnemaker
Graphic Design Intern

A LESSON IN LIVESTREAMING: USING PERISCOPE AND FACEBOOK LIVE

Periscope and Facebook Live are emerging technologies that allow groups, companies, and individuals to show real-time aspects of their lives and work. Farmers, for instance, are using the technology to reach and educate non-farmers by broadcasting their day-to-day from planting in the field to answering questions about farm life.

Recently, Illinois Farm Families partnered with Chicago radio personality Patti Vasquez to do a Q&A broadcast on Periscope with Illinois corn farmer Justin Durdan. We watched as viewers contributed and Durdan answered questions about farming, all while he worked in the field.

Periscope

Periscope is a smartphone app that can be downloaded at iTunes and Google Play for iOs and Android devices, respectively. Also, Periscope is available for Apple TV so that users can watch broadcasts from their televisions. People who do not have Periscope accounts can watch from the web if they have the link to the broadcast. Users likes Illinois Farm Families can also tweet broadcasts from their Twitter feed. However, you cannot interact via questions or likes.

5-9-16periscope
Credit: PRNewsire

Downloading the app is the best option. This allows people to keep up with their favorite accounts and to interact with the broadcasts. An account can be created account with a phone number or through a Twitter account. Once a user name is set-up, the user can watch and share broadcast from literally all over the globe. If there is a specific region users want to watch (like Illinois), they can use the interactive map on the app to find local broadcasts. Also, users can follow specific accounts like Illinois Farm Families (@ILFarmFamilies) and receive notifications when they go live.

One current drawback to Periscope is that the videos of past broadcasts only last 48 hours. The video must be downloaded and posted to sites like YouTube to be kept. Another drawback is that watching broadcasts on the Twitter app for non-users only works with Apple/iOs devices (for now).

If you’re interested in checking-in on some farmers who broadcast their work on Periscope, be sure to follow accounts like Judi Graff (@farmNwife), Nathan Brown (@Brown_Farms), and RedDirtInMySoul (@rimrockes). Remember: you can only see broadcasts that are live or that happened within the last 48 hours.

Click here to learn more about Periscope or click here for a full tutorial.

Facebook Live

5-9-16fblive
Credit: FB Newsroom

Facebook Live is another powerful tool for real-time broadcasting. Similar to Periscope, users can react to your broadcast with comments, questions, and likes. The broadcast takes place on the user’s profile page and a video of the broadcast will remain on the user’s timeline. However, Facebook’s videos stay on the user’s feed until the he or she chooses to delete it.

Well-known agriculture blogger “Dairy Carrie” uses Facebook Live to show some of the most intimate moments of farming life. Just recently, she’s shared videos of turning her cows out to pasture and of a calf being born. Carrie will even post pre-broadcast notices on her Facebook timeline, so others can tune in. Carrie is just one of many farmers who are using these technologies to demonstrate to a global audience different dimensions of farming and agriculture.

For more information about Facebook Live, click here. A full tutorial can be found here.

McDonald_Taylor

Taylor McDonald
Communications Assistant
IL Corn

A LETTER TO MY FUTURE DAUGHTER

Have you ever thought about what you would tell your daughter if you haven’t had the chance to meet her yet?  You expect that she will be great and take after you, but have you made any mistakes that you definitely do not want her making?  What scares you for your children’s futures?  I could go on for days thinking and writing what I would want her to know.  Women’s roles in society have changed so much in the last century.  Just think how much it will continue to change and evolve into something that today’s moms are not even expecting.

4-11-16mother-103311

Dear Daughter,

In your lifetime you will experience many new things.  Societal, agricultural, technological, and many other advances will be made.  Sometimes it will be cool and other times it will be scary.  The best advice I can give you is to try to keep up with the advances, but do not let them consume you.  People will always grow, change, and develop.  I wish for you to follow your heart, chase your dreams, no matter how cliché that may sound.

When it comes to agricultural advances, there will be fads, practices, and trends.  Traditions that will all change during your lifetime as it did mine.  I encourage you to become well-educated in areas that may concern you.  Articles published through different media outlets may not be the most reliable.  Check multiple reliable sources and take away your own ideas from your research.

Technology: isn’t it a great thing?  What has changed since you were a little girl?  Keeping up with technology is a job within itself.  Some words for the wise: technology consumes you if you let it.  You are only as advanced as you allow yourself to become.  Sometimes technology can make life easier but sometimes it makes life 10 times more difficult.  Social media are great for keeping up with friends who you do not see very often, yet it takes away from those you are with on a daily basis.  Find a way to balance your life and don’t let one piece consume you.

In conclusion, have fun with life. After all, you never know how long you have to live.  You are the youngest you will ever be right now and the oldest you have yet to be.  As many people say, “live well, laugh often, love much” quoted by Bessie Anderson Stanley.  This quote within itself means a great deal because it reminds us to live life to its fullest, while still having time to laugh, and always love like there is no tomorrow.  I challenge you to set extreme goals and even if you do not accomplish them they will take you to great places.

With much love,

Mom

I encourage all moms who have read this, write a letter every so often to your daughter and then give them to her when she moves out.  These letters can be whatever you choose to make them.  You can talk about things that have happened since the last letter you wrote or they could write them on big occasions.  The task is up to you, let me know what you think of this.

Lewis_Elizabeth

Elizabeth Lewis
Southern Illinois University