Future Farmer MAY/JUNE 2020
agvend Levridge Satshot pro power ag isight
H o m eg r ow n A g - T ec h From smart inventions to efficient innovations, the agriculture industry is evolving before our eyes.
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ISIGHT The first name in drone services.
SATSHOT Museum-worthy precision agriculture.
AGVEND The local company looking to save you money.
LEVRIDGE A game-changer for Ag retail operations.
PRO POWER AG Cutting edge weed control software.
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May/June 2020 Volume 1 Issue 3
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FROM THE FIELD brought to you by LG Seeds Because your business is more than a farm, LG Seeds is dedicated to being more than a seed company. In a unique approach to the industry, LG Seeds works intimately with a network of regional STAR Partner dealers. By bringing about this team approach, they are able to serve farmers with their leading genetics but also “feet on the ground” expertise. It’s not enough to provide farmers with leading-edge research and genetic hybrids, the LG Seeds team is dedicated to personalized results. To achieve this, the company enlists STAR Partner dealers. These STAR Partners work closely with the sales team and agronomists, receiving marketing and business support to aid their regional clients. STAR Partners are equipped with the resources to maximize success for farmers. Including a strong agronomic expertise, in-field support, digital ag platforms and regular training on the latest genetics and technologies. To better understand what LG Seeds provides and how STAR Partners operate, we spoke with two STAR Partners, Chris Tuchscherer and Jake Erickson. These two North Dakota LG Seeds STAR Partners shared what makes them feel like valuable parts of the company’s mission and why they do what they do.
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STAR Partner, Optimum um Ag Solutions Kenmare, ND
Chris Tuchscherer Hannah Marquardt
MA professional-turnedfarmer Chris Tuchsherer fully transitioned from the octagon to the field in 2012. Since 2007, Tuchsherer began farming while simultaneously pursuing his MMA career. Upon retiring from the ring, he moved to Minot, ND to manage 18,000 acres of wheat, corn, canola and soybeans. Just two years after pursuing farming full-time, he started up an ag business selling corn and soybeans. By 2017, Tuchsherer transitioned out of the farm and started an ag retail business with his friend and partner Doug Miller of Miller Grain Cleaning. Named Optimum Ag Solutions, their business is located in Kenmare, ND. Optimum Ag Solutions serves as a one-stop retail business for seed, chemical and fertilizer, including LG Seeds corn and soybeans. “With us having a farming background, we planned to use
our knowledge to help out other farmers by providing the best quality seed and the best service we can,” said Tuchsherer. “Being farmers [ourselves] helps us relate to the farmer in a different way.” Tuchscherer and Miller possess a rich wealth of knowledge and many years of experience in the areas of farm and business management, seed, seed cleaning, fertilizer and crop protection products. With a mission to provide excellent customer service and the highest quality products at competitive prices, they are providing a much-needed service to their region. Optimum Ag Solutions employs two local full-time seed agronomists, Mark Trout of Sherwood, ND and Madison Wald of Surrey, ND. The company also employs a number of part-time workers during the busy seasons.
"To sell the farmers the best quality seed to make their farm profitable is the best part of my job," Tuchscherer said. "Farmers Helping Farmers” is the motto at which they follow and make their number one priority. By being farmers themselves, Tuchsherer and Miller can communicate and make connections with other local farmers in a way that a sole businessman can’t. "We always have and always will make sure the farmer gets the service he is entitled to and not just selling a product then not seeing them again until the next selling season,”Tuchscherer said, emphasizing that service and maintaining relationships are very important to him. To learn more about Tuchsherer and Optimum Ag Solutions, visit them at www.optimumagsolutions.com or www.facebook.com/optimumagsolutions
Brought to you by LG SEEDS Digital Ag Field Specialist
Technical Team Agronomist
Area Agronomy Manager
Marketing Coordinator Dealer Development Manager Customer Care Specialist
Product & Agronomy Services Manager
Dealer Development Leads
Team 26 Chris Tuchscherer’s Team
Sales Account Manager Team
Area Sales Manager
Teaming Up For Success Every LG Seeds STAR Partner dealer has a team of experts backing them up. Whether its agronomy support, marketing ideas or business advice, the LG Seeds team exists to support the business success of STAR Partners - who stand at the center of the team. Bottom line - it’s all about helping growers yield bigger, better results.
Mark Vortherms – Business Area Lead Tony Loftness – Area Sales Manager Brady Schmaltz – Sales Account Manager Brandon Domagala – Sales Account Manager Cody Benson - Sales Account Manager Cordell Hoff – Sales Account Manager Jake Salentine – Technical Team Agronomist Michelle Frost – Marketing Coordinator Mary Stunteback – Customer Care Specialist Jim Wensman - Dealer Development Manager
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Jake Erickson STAR Partner, Jake's Feed & Seed Rutland, ND
ake Erickson is a fifth-generation farmer living on his family’s farm near Rutland, ND. He took over a seed dealership from his uncle 12 years ago as his full-time job, along with farming on the side with his father and uncle. "I always wanted to be a farmer, but my dad said we didn't have enough land for me to come back to, so I went to college at NDSU and majored in marketing," Erickson said. "I enlisted in the Air National Guard in my junior year of college. After graduation, I went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for tech school training to be a heavy equipment operator.” Once that training was completed, he moved back north and worked in Oakes, ND at Wheat Growers as a sales agronomist. After about a year of working in Oakes, Erickson's uncle, Mike Kulzer, retired and sold his seed dealership business to him. Since taking over the dealership, Erickson
has expanded to provide even greater services to his customer base, including the addition of bulk soybeans and wheat. A seed treater also added an extra layer of service to his customers. Additionally, Erickson built a large warehouse to store seed, livestock feed and livestock supplements, as well as host customer appreciation events. "Once you've grown up around farming, it's something that you can't get away from," Erickson said. "The saying about ‘if you love what you do you never work a day in your life’ is true. The long hours in the season never bother me, and I look forward to them all year long." Erickson is proud of his role in the community and loves working with growers to find the right products for their operations. "You get to become part of your grower's operations and really better understand their fields and goals," he said. "The most enjoyable thing about my job
is seeing so many farmers do so many things differently. It's made me really realize that there is no right or wrong way to do something. If you're able to make it work on your operation, then do that and don't worry about what others think." In his years with LG Seeds, Erickson has learned there's more to a bag of corn or soybeans than meets the eye. "There is so much research, development and testing that goes into that bag," he said. "I enjoy seeing all the data and how different varieties do on different soils and across growers’ farms." From a drought environment one year, to a wet environment the next, Erickson enjoys how things can change in the blink of an eye. No two years are ever the same on the field, which allows for creative adapting and strategic choices. Because of LG Seeds' extensive research and unique products, he can feel confident knowing his seed will keep up with these changes.
Brought to you by LG SEEDS Digital Ag Field Specialist
Technical Team Agronomist
Area Agronomy Manager
Marketing Coordinator Dealer Development Manager Customer Care Specialist
Product & Agronomy Services Manager
Dealer Development Leads
Team 27 Jake Erickson’s Team
Sales Account Manager Team
Area Sales Manager
Teaming Up For Success Every LG Seeds STAR Partner dealer has a team of experts backing them up. Whether its agronomy support, marketing ideas or business advice, the LG Seeds team exists to support the business success of STAR Partners - who stand at the center of the team. Bottom line - it’s all about helping growers yield bigger, better results.
Mark Vortherms – Business Area Lead Tony Loftness – Area Sales Manager Richard Swenson – Sales Account Manager Zachery Bohn – Sales Account Manager Mark Benson – Sales Account Manager Jake Salentine – Technical Team Agronomist Michelle Frost – Marketing Coordinator Mary Stuntebeck – Customer Care Specialist Jim Wensman - Dealer Development Manager
MAY / JUNE 2020
H o m eg r ow n A g - T ec h How innovators in our region are identifying and overcoming unique challenges through adaption and innovation Our region is sprouting with new ag businesses. From smart inventions to efficient innovations, the agriculture industry is evolving before our eyes. We have highlighted these inventors, softwares and small business owners filling the needs of their own markets.
The First Name In Drone
Services iSight CEO Tommy Kenville says it is time to get serious about drone technology in agriculture and beyond.
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Five years ago, there were plenty of unknowns when it came to drones and unmanned vehicles. To many, the technology would drum up thoughts of inexperienced flyers who would casanova their drones above unsuspecting heads for pure sport. People looked at drone flying as a hobby and not a legitimate and viable means of technological advancement. Tommy Kenville had a different view compared to the general population. Not only did he see the overall value in drone technology, but he also invested heavily in it. The result has produced a company, iSight, that has changed how drone technology is used in the agricultural sphere. For Tommy Kenville and iSight, the time for drone technology is now. Beginnings Kenville was in aviation for over 30 years before he became interested in drone technology. Kenville spent 15 years at the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation while also founding the Unmanned Applications Institute in 2010. This institute was the first in North Dakota for research, testing and consulting by way of drone technology. iSight CEO Tommy Kenville
That was Kenville's endgame, to create a drone technology system that could collect and aggregate data in a timely fashion. "I was asked to help bring the industry to North Dakota. I was involved with getting the aerospace integration team formed and having one voice and getting the whole state on board the aviation community," Kenville said. "We wanted drones. In 2011, I started a drone company that was really focused on the payloads and the training." While Kenville maintained his interests in the drone industry, he found himself becoming a mentor to younger company owners too. This mentorship led him to Adam Lingwall and Nathan Leben. The two Wahpeton natives had just started their own small drone company called iSight in 2015. Through mentorship (and plenty of interest from Kenville) the two parties decided to join forces in 2017. "I helped them start and they were just going to be a small drone service. One thing led to another and they came to me a couple of years later. We'd been sharing people and equipment to kind of make it all work, but we weren't making any money," Kenville said of the underpinnings of their partnership. "They came to me and said, â€œlet's merge.â€™ So we
I've been really fortunate to keep the young, talented tech people in North Dakota. It is probably the thing I'm most proud of." - Tommy Kenville
Aircraft Systems world as compared to just its Remotely Piloted Vehicle services. Fargo Site Manager Joey Schmit is responsible for helping iSight diversify their company in an ever-growing technological landscape. It has also provided new opportunities for Kenville and his team.
"We're going to help the farmer the most in his pocketbook." - Tommy Kenville
"Between iSight and Joey's company, we've flown close to 150,000 acres, which sounds like a lot, but in a three or four year’s time it isn't," he said.
Do they add chemical, don't add chemical? They need to know within 10 to 12 hours.
merged three years ago and formed a holding company." That holding company is now known as Midwest Drone Group. Trial By Fire In Agriculture While the three had merged together, the next step was figuring out how to make their company successful. Drone technology was still relatively new in 2017, especially to those consumers iSight was targeting. It took plenty of trial and error, but Kenville and his team found one of their future niches when flying over acreage near Arthur, North Dakota through an APUC project. "Early on, we were begging and scratching to get by, and so we flew some acreage up by Arthur maybe four years ago and we really learned a lot. We had a fixed-wing drone that could stay in the air for 90 minutes," said Kenville. "We could gather the data quickly, but we couldn't process it quick enough for the farmer to make an input decision.
“It was so much data with a beet field or a corn field that you couldn't do it. You could have the biggest T1 line you wanted and you just couldn't crunch the data fast enough. So then we kind of stepped away a little bit waiting for the software to catch up. We ended up getting into energy infrastructure and doing a little work in the oil patch." iSight Grows The software for collecting farming data was in its relative infancy at the time. However, Kenville recognized that farming and agriculture would play a huge role in the success of their company. However, the technology was just not there quite yet. In the interim, iSight was focused on building its reputation as one of the top drone companies in North America. "We've really grown our company, we've gone from six to 24 employees. We have flown in 35 states and nine countries," said Kenville of iSight's growth over the past three years. "We have been really fortunate to keep the young, talented tech people in North Dakota. It’s probably the thing I'm most proud of." In 2020, iSight also purchased Flight Pros, a company based out of Fargo. This places iSight right in the middle of the Unmanned
iSight opened their third office on May 1 in Watford City, focusing on energy and ag (include ranching). A large portion of iSight's business is done in the energy sector. That is usually in the form of inspecting power lines, wind turbines and oil infrastructure. Due to the lack of software advancement in the agricultural sphere, they have relied on the energy sector to create its core business. However, iSight is now ready to dive headfirst into agriculture by providing farmers access to this technology. "Ag is going to be one of the legs of our four-legged stool," Kenville said. "We've been dancing around ag up till now. But I believe that we're going to really grow ag now though. We actually just embarked a big six-state ag project that will begin in mid-May." Investing In New Technology In Kenville's mind, iSight's role in agriculture will come thanks to evolving technology. The company recently invested in a gas-powered drone that Kenville says will be a gamechanger for farmers and agriculture. "That airplane is going to be a game-changer for ag and all of us. It's 100 percent American made. It takes off vertically. So you can launch it downtown, across from the Fargo Empire. Kenville said describing the plane. "The gaspowered motor turns on and one gallon of gas lasts us five hours. Think of the amount of data you can fly with beyond the visual line of sight." FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
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iSight At A Glance
Went from six to 26 employees since 2011.
Have flown in 33 states and nine different countries.
Have flown close to 150,000 acres of land using Remotely Piloted Vehicle operations.
iSight has flown in 17 states alone in the last two months.
Inspected 1,856 wind turbines in the month of February alone.
iSight will inspect at least 13,000 wind turbines in 2020.
The state's investment in radar has set North Dakota apart and will help ag and all industries. This alleviates any potential accidents that could occur with actual aircraft whether commercial or privately owned. "I would say it's a game-changing aircraft for ag. We're gonna use it extensively," said Kenville. "That radar can be seen throughout the entire state is going to be an absolute game-changer for the farmers because now they can hire me and I can launch the plane from Grand Forks and fly a field south of Fargo and not have to physically be there."
when the crops are just getting planted," Kenville said. "Now, we could go out after the crops are out of the ground and do very detailed stand counts. What I've learned is that you don't need a ton more data in your life. You need the information to make decisions off of and that's the saying with a farmer."
That makes life easier for Kenville and his drone operators, but it also helps pilots. "It's not only going to be a benefit for the drone operators, but it's going to be a big benefit for the small plane pilots too," he said. "If they fly into some small-town airport, there isn't a radar. You don't really know who's in the area, you have to call out on the radio. This radar will pick up everything above 400 feet."
"I'm the farmer and you come to my field because we had hail. Me and my crops go up and I think that 42 percent was damaged. The insurance guys think 38 percent damage. So what happens? We meet in the middle. That two percent comes out to a big number nationally. I think that both sides would like very accurate information," Kenville said.
iSight's Benefit To The Farmer To many farmers, drone technology seems like a slippery slope. Not only is there a financial investment required, but the data collected might be hit or miss. With its new foray into agriculture, iSight wants to eliminate those worries when a farmer comes calling. For Kenville, he feels iSight can ease any stress thanks to their experience in the field. They can also get incredibly accurate data that can help give a farmer peace of mind and lead them to the right decision for their farm. "We have experienced pilots. A lot of farmers have used us for damage. When they've had crop damage, they want a very accurate reading.
Kenville even offers forth a hypothetical to illustrate just how accurate their technology is and how valuable accuracy is to the farmer.
The endgame is to help the farmer both financially and in the field. "We're going to help the farmer the most in his pocketbook," Kenville said. "Farmers don't need data, they need actionable information to make decisions from." Farmers embracing technology has also helped iSight get back into the agricultural landscape. Farmers are realizing how valuable drone technology can be to their farm and overall livelihood. "Even the 70-year-old who's in charge of the farm has a smartphone. Five years ago, that wasn't the case. I mean, they might still have their old flip phone. The farmers I know, they have a smartphone for the weather. They have the weather in the palm of their hand and in their pickup," he said. "I believe that the farming community has made the total tech shift. And four years ago that wasn't the case. The head of a farm had a ton of tech in his tractor, but he didn't have in his pocket."
If there is a weather event or storm, the drones can gather accurate data. Drones can also be used to gather volumetrics for elevators for outside piles.Â We're getting to a point where we can do stand counts
We believe now is the time. The technology and the software and the demand are there. The timing is right." - Tommy Kenville
This gas-powered drone will be a 'gamechanger' for agriculture says Kenville.
Ag is going to be one of the legs of our four-legged stool." - Tommy Kenville
So how can farmers get iSight to their farm? Kenville makes it simple: tell iSight your problems and pilots, GIS people and drones can get you information. "Send us some of the problems. Let us come back and see if we can solve them. I think where we will come in big is getting real accurate on your bushels per acre, really accurate. If you have an infestation problem, drainage problem, obnoxious weeds strain, list your problems and we'll see how we go about it," he said when asked what his pitch to local farmers would be. "We kind of sit down and say, 'hey, we're not going to do this sample for free, but let's do a demo flight.â€™ Here's our bare bones deal. Let's do it and make sure we get you what you want. Because the last thing we want to do is go fly for you and not get you anything you expected." The Future The future of drone technology is incredibly bright, especially in a state that has embraced it so wholeheartedly. For Tommy Kenville and iSight that can only mean good things for the future landscape of the company. "We couldn't be in a better region to start a high tech drone company than North Dakota," Kenville said. "You have farmers who are some of the best entrepreneurs in the world because they have to figure it out on the fly." Five years ago, no one could have seen this drone revolution coming. Not only is it changing how we collect data on farms, but it is also 26
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helping leaders in agriculture make informed and concise decisions that impact farmers. While Tommy Kenville will not admit to it, he was one of the first to go to bat for drone technology and its impact on farmers and agriculture. "Most have seen a drone by now and either you are afraid of them or bought one and crashed it, I would guess. We believe now is the time. The technology and the software and the demand are there. The timing is right," Kenville said. The time for drone technology is now and Tommy Kenville and iSight have been on the ground floor of this innovation since the beginning. Learn more at isightdrones.com
Satshot Museum-Worthy Precision Agriculture
By Alexandra Martin Photos provided by Lanny Faleide
Since 1994, Lanny Faleide of Maddock, ND has been changing field mapping with his software, Satshot. Since its humble beginning, Satshot has become a leader in the remote sensing industry, has a presence on every continent and now hosts well over 20 million acres worth of field boundaries in its system. With Satshot being one of the first ag-tech companies in North Dakota, its founder, Lanny Faleide, is engrained in the state's ag-tech industry. However, this year Faleide's accomplishments extended past the upper midwest and are showcased in an exhibit called the â€œCountryside, the Futureâ€? at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. 28
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Photo by David Heald ÂŠ Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
About Satshot Founded in 1994 in Fargo, ND, Satshot is a powerful but easy to use cloud system with desktop and mobile applications. Satshot allows its users to analyze fields anywhere in the world. The software is unique, as it gives full control to the user to analyze a field without giving canned results. This provides higher detailed analytics to define unique characteristics of field productivity. Satshot prides themselves in their ability to allow a user to create a VRA map in five minutes or less, saving farmers precious time. Satshot has created a whole new realm of data when it comes to analyzing farmland. Setting them apart in the industry, they provide farmers and consultants access to a field crop health analysis system, based on vegetation biomass. For more efficient applications, these patterns/management zones are then used to apply crop inputs, seed, fertilizer, chemical and tillage methogs to better manage field variability.
f you're reading this magazine, then you probably know a thing or two about agriculture and technology in the upper midwest. And if you are savvy on ag-tech in the region, then you probably are familiar with Satshot, a software that uses landscape and satellite images to analyze fields anywhere on the globe. Satshot is a household name in the agricultural tapestry of the upper midwest, and thanks to The Guggenheim Museum's latest exhibit, “Countryside, the Future,” the software and its founder, Lanny Faleide, can be studied and admired by a new whole audience. This exhibit opened in February and is a collaboration between architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal, the director of AMO, OMA's design think tank. This exhibition aims to address urgent environmental, political and socioeconomic issues among the world's non-urban territories. The showcase spans across the six levels of the Guggenheim's iconic spiral, with each level offering its own thesis. Prominently displayed on level six is a satellite image graphic created by Satshot for the exhibit. The piece depicts zone management creation for variable-rate crop inputs across the state of North Dakota. This floor of the exhibit explores Cartesian rationalism in the countryside. Alongside Satshot's satellite imagery, this floor of the exhibit shows images paired with contemporary agricultural equipment, from both the field and lab. Case studies include the Netherlands' indoor farming, a machine designed to measure photosynthesis and fish farming on land. This consideration that the countryside is a frontier for experimentation and innovation is 30
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a concept that Satshot has been familiar with for over 25-years. Faleide and his wife, Lisa, were consultants for the show and conducted extensive interviewing in North Dakota to analyze the scale of agriculture and cultural changes in the state. Displayed on the floor surrounding Satshots piece are strips of text, exploring the amalgamation of their interviews with local farmers and agriculture professionals. The main topics cover precision farming, monopolistic practices, cooperatives, regenerative farming, no-till farming and the implications of rail companies in agriculture. Segments of the displayed texts include: Precision farming is designed to produce maximal yields by responding, in minute detail, to the variable nature of a field and the needs of its crops. Typically applied to industrial farming, its methods can also be used for regenerative farming, where sustainability in terms of soil health, water usage, and the like are prioritized over maximizing yields. The Remote Observation Fleet: Four hundred miles from Earth, a fleet of satellites monitors the world’s most productive sections of agricultural land, offering almost real-time feedback on soil conditions, weather expectations, foliage growth, and other parameters, with precision down to the half inch…
Worm's-eye view of "Countryside, The Future" by David Heald Â© Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Lanny (right) and Nathan Faleide (left)
The colorful image displayed was created by Faleide to showcase the numerous operations Satshot technology is capable of. Looking at the image, information displayed includes satellite base image with soil lines overlay from the USDA NRCS SSURGO Soil Survey, raw multispectral satellite images used in field analysis by farmers and an analysis map showing biomass densities of plants across fields in different management zones. To 'designboom', Koolhaas, co-orchestrator of the exhibit, said: "In the past decade, I have noticed that while much of our energies and intelligence have been focused on the urban areas of the world, the countryside has changed dramatically under the influence of global warming, the market economy, American tech companies, African and European initiatives, Chinese politics and other forces." Noting that 98% of the Earth's surfaces are not occupied by cities, Koolhaas strove to shine light away from the often-showcased cities, and instead onto the rural and/or remote countrysides. According to The Guggenheim, the exhibition examines the modern conception of leisure, large-scale planning by political forces, climate change, migration, human and nonhuman
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ecosystems, market-driven preservation, artificial and organic coexistence, and other forms of radical experimentation that are altering landscapes across the world. By examining this, viewers learned a bevy of information, including much about the modern state of agriculture. In normal operations for Satshot, they use satellite imagery to document the change of crop patterns in the state and how technology and crops have shifted. But with this unique opportunity, they showcased their extensive knowledge on a much larger scale and alongside some of the globe's other leading forces. So what's next for Satshot? Faleide shared that they are reintroducing their 3D modeling of imagery of terrain on a worldscale on their radar screen. The incorporation of new satellites and aerial sensors with higher resolution is becoming a reality for the company. In 2017, Satshot scaled over 200 million acres of 1.5-meter resolution imagery across the USA corn belt an average of four times, an unprecedented feat. Following this success, Faleide said, "Matching the demand and supply of high-resolution satellite imagery will be the next step."
Laurian Ghinitoiu courtesy of AMO
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The juxtaposition of an exhibit dedicated to the countryside positioned in the Upper East Side of the most urban city in the nation was intentional. A driving force behind the exhibition is to contest the assumption that urbanization is inevitable, but that the radical changes in our countrysides are the future. From the numerous accolades Satshot has been honored, it is safe to say that they rightfully belonged in the exhibit and they will continue to shape the field - in North Dakota and much beyond. Learn more at satshot.com.
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Satshot is currently offering new users a 25% discount through June 2020 on their yearly subscription of the Satshot system.
Satshot founder Lanny Faleide posing next to his work in the Guggenheim Museum
AGVEND IS THE LEADER IN POWERING THE OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE FOR AG RETAIL
AGVEND BEGAN AS AN ONLINE MEET AGVEND MARKETPLACE, BUILT FOR THE MODERN GROWER. THIS MARKETPLACE OFFERS GROWERS COMPETITIVE PRICING AND SIMPLIFIED PURCHASING, AGVEND BRINGS IN TECHNOLOGY TO THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY, WITHOUT LOSING HUMANITY. WE SPOKE WITH ANNA CARDOZE, PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER AT AGVEND, TO WALK US THROUGH HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME AND RESOURCES WITH THEIR PRODUCT OFFERINGS.
AgVend believes in creating and building tools that positively impact how those who work in agriculture do business. It is their wholehearted belief that itâ€™s possible to embrace digital solutions to do more business online, while also providing an exceptional customer experience that those in our industry are used to. Sound too good to be true? Then you probably haven't used AgVend yet. Founded in 2017, AgVend was birthed from the simple belief that there was a better way for growers to purchase their inputs from ag retailers. The AgVend Marketplace achieved the goal of connecting ag retailers with new growers and giving growers the most competitive pricing. The success of the AgVend Marketplace was quickly followed by the launch of AgVendpowered Grower Portals.
By Alexandra Martin Photos provided by AgVend
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WHY THE NEED?
ANNA CARDOZE Product Marketing Manager at AgVend
The industry needed an easy to use, forward-thinking platform to grow as the demands and wants of the world also grow. But at the same time, not abandon key tenants of the agriculture industry. "Growers want a digitally-enabled purchasing process, but they still want to work with the retailer they know and trust. They want to ask advice from their sales agronomist, purchase products using the line of credit they have with the retailer, and maintain that established relationship," said Anna Cardoze, AgVend Product Marketing Manager. "So by partnering with retailers to build their branded Grower Portals, we are providing their sales team and their growers that digitally-enabled purchasing process to meet the changing needs in a changing landscape." "One thing that we are really proud of at AgVend is building products and building solutions that power digital commerce in agriculture," said Cardoze. In an environment where things are changing quickly, AgVend wants to take the pressures of adapting off of its users. Change can be difficult, so powering the experience for ag retailers to not have to take the time and money to build up their own platforms is huge. With the platforms continuously updating, users can feel safe knowing that everything is up to date and accurate. "We make adjustments and improvements based on what feedback users like growers or sales teams are giving us," added Cardoze, emphasizing again that they build the platform with retailers and growers in mind. "It needs to be easy to use. You can make the coolest and flashiest tech, but if it is not easy to use, there will be no adoption of it," she said.
HOW THE MARKETPLACE WORKS With two parts of the business, weâ€™ll dive into the original impetus of AgVend first, the Marketplace. As an independently-owned company, AgVend has no hidden agendas or partnerships - they just want what is best for farmers and their trusted retailers. For growers, using AgVend is free, meaning no membership fees or hidden costs. So how does it all work? Simply put, there are four pillars:
1. FIND OFFERS FROM TRUSTED RETAILERS Select the product offers that are right for you based on price, delivery options, available programs, and more.
2. CONVENIENTLY ORDER AND PAY ONLINE Easily pay online using a credit card, ACH or wire transfer. Or you can finance your order with John Deere Financial, Rabo or Corteva TruChoice.
3. FIND OUT THE PARTNER RETAILER In order to provide you with the best price, AgVend keeps the retailer hidden until you place the order. They refer to this as an "opaque marketplace."
4. STANDING BEHIND EVERY ORDER The retailer will fulfill your order and AgVend will work on your behalf to resolve any questions or issues.
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AN OPAQUE MARKETPLACE The concept of an opaque marketplace has been a focus for AgVend since its founding. Operating an opaque marketplace means the retailers' identity/ name is not displayed. "All you see is the product, the price and any services that come with it, and then the shipping or pick-up cost and approximate distance it is from you," said Cardoze. However, once the transaction is completed and the payment has gone through, the curtain gets lifted, so to speak. The retailer then gets introduced to the grower and from there they coordinate shipping, delivery or pick-up and any other details associated with the offer. From there, they can build their working relationship. This method of marketplace is a win-win. Growers get the best bang for their buck and retailers big and small operate direct-to-grower. Plus, in the end you still get a personal connection, leaving the human connection in the equation. In a world where tech is taking over, there are valid concerns about losing touch with humanity. With this method, those concerns are eased.
HOW THE GROWER PORTAL WORKS Now that we understand the Marketplace sector of AgVend, next comes their newest sector: The Grower Portals. Grower Portals powered by AgVend are creating success for ag retailers, their sales teams, and most importantly, their customers. When growers can quickly & easily access information digitally, it empowers sales teams to focus on the part of the job they love, providing growers with quality service and knowledge. Enabling growers to access these tools emphasizes the priority of meeting growers wherever and whenever they prefer to do business, whether in person, over the phone, or digitally. Ultimately, this means AgVendâ€™s products are designed to strengthen the connection between retailers and growers by enabling them to do business more easily through integrated, intuitive digital solutions.
Getting Started - The Basics Once a retailer has decided that a Grower Portal, powered by AgVend, is the best offer for their customers, there are some options on what resources you want to access. The base Grower Portal comes with the following four components:
1. REVIEW AND PAY INVOICES Easily review and pay invoices online. Whether it is an order placed through the portal or in-person, you can see all financial information in one place. You can pay individual or multiple invoices at a time using ACH, wire transfer, or credit card.
2. HISTORIC INFORMATION STORAGE Every grower portal includes access to historical owner information. This means that users are equipped with information about their past purchases, brands, amounts ordered and at what price points. With this information, they are able to make educated and informed decisions about future orders based on what worked or didn't work for them previously.
3. QUOTE REQUESTS When growers are getting ready to budget the upcoming season, having access to updated pricing from your Sales Agronomist is important. By requesting a quote through the Grower Portal, you are able to get updated pricing directly for specific products when you need it. Itâ€™s simple, a grower can build their input list including details like when they are looking for delivery and the rough quantity needed. That information gets sent to their salesperson who can relay back to them updated pricing on what's the best fit.
4. MOBILE APP Time is valuable, especially to growers. To allow access virtually anywhere, Grower Portals come with a branded mobile app for the retailer for iOS and Android. All this information on your phone or tablet allows growers to review and pay invoices, check past orders, request custom quotes and more. This seamless process allows growers to conduct their business anywhere and 24/7.
economic decisions by combining your product prices with your agronomic recommendations. Additionally, digitally share agronomic places and recommendations in real-time, giving growers the ability to view current and historical information from your agronomists.
DEEPER CUTS - ADDITIONAL PACKAGES From the base package, retailers with a Grower Portal have the option to access even more tools. Cardoze said, "We designed the base portal with a suite of tools that are most commonly asked for by growers and then four additional packages that retailers can pick and choose from. It really allows the retailer to design a portal that meets their grower needs and their needs as an organization, whether that means financial investment or strategic direction of the business. You can also add those packages on at any point. You can launch your Grower Portal with one package, and then we can later add another."
Credit The Credit Package gives growers the ability to view their available balance, apply for additional financing, and use credit to place orders online. Cut down on credit check phone calls with credit balance being easily accessible to growers and their sales agronomists online and in the mobile app. Also simplify the credit application process with online credit applications that provide growers with easy and secure access. Alongside the eCommerce package, credit transactions are made easier by enabling growers to use their line of credit as a form of payment when purchasing your products online.
Marketing The Marketing Package makes it simple to keep your growers informed of your business developments and latest promotions. This package allows you to send emails and targeted messages to growers to provide them the information they need and at the right time. From new promotions to business developments to educational pieces, make sure your growers are in-the-know with emails, push notifications and automated messaging. Utilize email marketing by creating relevant targeted emails about specific promotions or general emails for your latest business updates. Create custom push notifications that go directly to your growers’ mobile phones about limited time offers. And take advantage of automated messaging, ensuring you stay top-of-mind with your growers by using rules-based reminders to keep connected.
Additional packages are: •
eCommerce List products and accept transactions online with a complete eCommerce toolset. The eCommerce package enables your growers to browse products and make purchases online using multiple payment options. Their self-serve platform gives growers the ability to easily search products and prices, view product information and place orders online. Also, this package cuts down on paperwork and abandoned orders with ability for Private Offers. Follow in-person meetings or calls with a digital Private Offer that growers can review and order online. Agronomy Use the agronomy package to digitally send plans and recommendations to your growers. The Agronomy Package connects to your existing tools and enables your growers to view this information in one centralized location, from a website or a mobile app. With this, you can automatically price plans and send out customized recommendations vy field and by acre. This package enables your growers to make smart
For more information, visit www.agvend-for-retailers.com
A game-changer for Ag retail operations An interview with Levridge President and Stoneridge Software Co-Founder, Becky Newell
By Danna Sabolik Becky Newell is President of Levridge, a sister company to Stoneridge Software. Newell is a co-founder of Stoneridge Software, and led the technical and development teams for the first five years in business. Prior experience includes 14.5 years at Microsoft working with the Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX business technology products as a Development Support Engineer and Senior Escalation Engineer. She also worked on the Microsoft Dynamics platform development team, learning the foundation of the product and how to develop in a team atmosphere. Becky grew up in Onida, SD where her family still farms, raising wheat, corn, sunflowers and beef cattle.
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rom the cab of a combine to
crop genetics and drones, the
agricultural industry has seen tremendous technological
advancements in recent years. But what about backend software? For
ag retailers, the application they're
running a business with is more than 20 years old.
The team at Stoneridge Software
has taken a singular interest in ag
retailers, co-ops and processors. The
team has devoted countless hours and energy to this mission. They stepped
up to the challenge with a team full of problem solvers who have a passion for creating a business application
that will meet your needs in a modern and efficient way. Profitability will no longer need to be calculated on
instinct and a spreadsheet. No more confusing invoices to growers, or
clients that have to call in by phone to
access information. Built on top of the
Microsoft Dynamics platform Levridge is a cloud-based product, so employees and clients can access it anywhere,
What is Levridge? Levridge is dedicated to building modern, user-friendly business solutions for the agricultural industry. The premier Levridge product is an end-to-end accounting, operations and customer relationship management solution tailored for agriculture needs, including agronomy, grain accounting, accounting and retail, feed, grain processing, scale, equity and patronage. How do farmers benefit from your products or services? Many Ag retailers and co-ops today are using homegrown or extremely dated on premise business management systems. Often, the locations within these coops or retailers are running the same processes separately and the Ag retail headquarters has no immediate line of sight into the overall business picture. By the same token, farmers or growers have limited insight into historical information and the current business they have with the co-op or retail location. Even though the Levridge solution is not sold directly to farmers, farmers will see benefit from it. Ag retailers and co-ops have a mutually beneficial relationship with farmers. For farmers, the modern technology of Levridge makes it easier to operate and access information online to support their business. Grower clients of Ag retailers can access information on their own, alleviating manual, frustrating and time-consuming processes on both ends. For example, farmers can access and understand scale tickets, easily set up contracts, schedule deliveries and more. Invoices of the past from co-ops and retailers were particularly confusing and complicated because of various percentages of farm ownership and the need for split billing. Levridge allows the ability to track split contracts, billing and all necessary information for each account within the system. It's something that's specific to the Ag industry and weâ€™ve taken great care to make sure itâ€™s been built into the solution correctly. Growers, partners and co-op members desire the opportunity to communicate and access information through mobile technology. Currently, in much of the ag industry, this is not possible. The Levridge solution was built to consolidate multiple functions from several lines of business currently stored in separate systems, spreadsheets or paper tickets, into one place. It has an organized and easy-to-use interface that employees and growers can access on any device no matter where they are. This is especially useful in the Ag industry as data can be entered and
Levridge's user-friendly homepage.
accessed directly from the field, such as past chemicals applied, soil samples, and yield from past years, instead of having to be physically in an office to do so. This allows for a vast increase in employee communication, productivity, and accuracy of information. Because Levridge is built on the most modern architecture, it also allows for easier integration with other new technology applications built for agriculture, providing users with all the data they need at their fingertips. If farmers do business at a co-op or Ag retail location that could benefit from modern technology they can reach out to Levridge or to Stoneridge Software solutions@stoneridgesoftware. com. Stoneridge Software is a sister company to Levridge and the partner that is responsible for implementing the Levridge solution.
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Whatâ€™s innovative about Levridge? Itâ€™s cloud-based, and there is no other system out there like it. Having all your business applications talk to each other is not a common thing in the world today. Levridge provides communication between the line of business applications, such as agronomy, scale applications, mapping, scouting, dispatching, blending, grower contracts, the ability to track commodity accounting, feed management, and all of that is coming back to the core ERP system. It creates much easier and efficient processes, a more intuitive user experience and provides endless opportunities for business intelligence advantages. In the past, processes for recording information in the ag retail industry included writing data down on paper, taking it back to the office,
and entering it into the correct software system. This allows many opportunities for error in losing the data or forgetting to enter it. It also added more steps than necessary. Our cloud-based software is unique because it allows users to enter data on the spot, whether they have a WiFi connection or not. What are you hearing some of the biggest challenges farmers are having right now outside of weather or pricing? As farm ownership changes and evolves, the interest in adopting more modern business technology and insights is something we are seeing. Farmers are looking for every advantage in the market
An example Levridge's commodity accounting software."
and the right technology can help provide that. I also think farmers might be facing some the same issues some of our Ag retailers have, like supply chain issues. It's just a very unusual time for every industry in the country including Ag. But, one of the great things about being in Ag is that it's fundamental to basic living, and there will always be demand. Why did you think it was a good product to create? First, we recognized the need. Prior to Levridge, there wasnâ€™t a robust software program on the market that allowed users to manage data and operations all within in one solution. Levridge is unique because it was created specifically to fill this hole in the Ag business software market where nothing else existed to meet current needs. It truly modernizes how business is being done, making processes much more efficient,
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organized, and accessible. There was definitely a demand, and we had Ag retail clients asking for a solution. Second, my whole team comes from this area. Weâ€™re all the sons and daughters of farmers and that had a great appeal to us because it's an industry that we have a connection to and natively understand.
small town now. But, if you consider current modern banking there is an ATM, online sites and you rarely go into the bank at all. We see the same opportunities for Ag retailers with self-service sites in the future or features like scale operations at satellite locations managed by one central headquarters.
What is coming up for Levridge? Can you share what's next or what you are working on?
What advice do you have to Farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota right now to help control what they can control and work on keeping their operation successful?
We're constantly working to enhance the solution. Weâ€™ve nearly completed the addition of a commodity package. We're also working on a scale application, which will go live in September of this year. Future phases for Levridge will include more self-service features. If you reflect on banking in the 80's and 90's, there was a bank in every small town, just like there's an elevator in every
The more efficiencies and access to informational insights that exist in agribusiness the better. If farmers are able to tap into that information they can make better decisions for their own business.
FEATURED SOFTWARE By: Danna Sabolik | Photos submitted from Pro Power Ag
How a dorm room dream became cutting-edge weed control software Pro Power Ag, or PPAG, is an app that
Innovation Challenge, the tool has since grown
provides data-based solutions to weed
legs of its own and become quite the asset to
management. The vision of this software is to
farmers looking for unbiased recommendations
positively impact the landscape of how weed
for farm chemical application.
management decisions are made by using real, quantifiable data. Boasting the largest herbicide performance database of it's kind, Pro Power Ag gives agronomists and farmers the tools needed to simplify the weed control process and elevate their businesses, all conveniently packaged into an easy-to-use app. The product of Sam Hanson and Reed Lawrence's 2017 NDSU
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Re e d Law r e n c e
he idea for a herbicide tracking agronomy software was developed by college roommates Sam Hanson and Reed Lawrence in 2018. They decided to use their skills, Hanson in agronomy and Lawrence in computer programming, to develop the Pro Power Ag (PPAG) app to help agronomists have the most information possible at their fingertips. In 2018 the duo entered NDSU's Ag Innovation Challenge with their software and won, giving them the momentum to launch the app. Lawrence does not have an ag background himself, but says he has absorbed a lot of it through osmosis of sorts through his community and peers. "It was very interesting to me that you can control a lot of these variables in farming," Lawrence said. â€œSure there is the weather and other uncontrollable variables, but a lot of things like nitrogen content and herbicide rates can manipulate yield.â€?
Hanson approached Lawrence with herbicide performance data and he began to work on the software. This software would help both young agronomists and seasoned agronomists with new clients and fields learn all sorts of information at once. There are some apps and software with similar programming, but nothing that combines all the data with a standardized rating like Pro Power Ag does, allowing it to fill a much-needed hole in the industry. Words like "fair" or "excellent" are applied to herbicides with no real quantifiable data. But with this app, such data is brought to life. Recommendations can be difficult for young agronomists dealing with thousand of acres and a lot of variables like soil, water and crops. There's also part of the app which tracks field history, so a grower or agronomist can see what has worked in the past, or what is working less effectively and what can prevent weed resistance.
"Weed resistance is one of the most common issues I hear about from growers, and I think it's only going to continue to be an issue in years to come unless some practices change," Lawrence said. "It's not because of a lack of knowledge or laziness, but rather applying glyphosate because it works year after year â€“ until it doesn't." Lawrence attributes this method to a lack of information. "The way it's always been done is what is leading to weed resistance," he said. "Which won't necessarily hold up in the
weed control, while not relying on one 'silver bullet' chemical. Some farmers are exploring alternative crops because of market instability, causing agronomists to step outside their comfort zone regarding herbicide inputs." Agronomists are also working with no-till farming, which is gaining popularity for some farmers in this area. With different growing practices, weed control becomes more complex, requiring more robust herbicide plans for preemerge and post-emerge weed control.
future." Environmentally, chemicals might stick in rivers and fields for years and there are alternative, effective options available. This app runs every possible situation and presents them in an easy to understand format. "Herbicide-resistant species are becoming especially prevalent," Lawrence said. "There is a need for comprehensive
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The PPAG app covers everything from weed control to less weed resistance, better yields and improved agronomist/ grower relationships. This data is performance-based, maximizing "bang-for-your-buck" in regards to dollars per acre of herbicide catered specifically to a field's needs. In fact, there is no other publically available software that collects herbicide data in the same manner.
"We are an unbiased third party," Lawrence said. "Pro Power Ag does not receive any external funding or influence, allowing us to present data as-is without any bias or favoritism." The app creates a living database, which is great for families in the midst of a transition or working with a new agronomist, no more digging through the filing cabinet to find a specific piece of data. With recent markets, Lawrence says this app is also great for those who are trying new crops to diversify their farms. "We've packed this app with data, so just by inputting some information about your field will give back a bunch of recommendations for what would work best," Lawrence said. "I just had a grower [from out of state] contact me about growing alfalfa. I plugged in his information and had five recommendations in seconds."
John Shamp Business Partner
While Pro Power Ag is the brainchild of Lawrence and Hanson, it really got off the ground with the help of their business partner, John Shamp. Shamp is a retired businessman and farmer from Minnesota who brings over 40 years of business expertise to the team. With his many years of expertise, he provided invaluable guidance to these young ag professionals.
The Pro Power Ag team works to stay on top of the industry. To keep up with the ever-changing landscape, here are two resources they utilize to stay educated.
Future of Agriculture with Tim Hammerich Agritalk with Chip Flory
www.agweb.com/agritalk AgriTalk is a live, onehour syndicated talk radio program for rural America, connecting producers with consumers. Host Chip Flory of Oxford Junction, Iowa cuts through the confusion to find market clarity.
Another benefit to Pro Power Ag is its size. They are a small team, allowing them to be hyper-responsive to customer's wants and needs. "When a customer has requested a feature or enhancement, we have fully implemented it in less than a week in some cases," Lawrence said. He is proud of the product they have created and is excited looking toward the future. "It sounds cliche, but it really is a win-win," Lawrence said. "It helps agronomists bolster the connection with growers and increase transparency on farms."
www.futureofag.com The Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich is a show that explores the people, companies and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you!
field-mapping integration and will be branching into remaining chemical inputs like pesticide, insecticide and fungicide. For more information or questions, contact the PPAG team at firstname.lastname@example.org, sam.hanson@ propowerag.com, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit propowerag.com/connect or email sales@ propowerag.com for a product demo. Also for a limited time, Pro Power Ag is offering Future Farmer readers a discounted price of $600! A $960 retail value.
Looking forward, Lawrence and Hanson are working on the addition of rotation restriction management, exploring
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Kyle Schultz is a 24-year-old North Dakota farmer in his first year farming as a partnership with his father. A new father himself, Schultz found time to share with us what he finds valuable about farming and family life, and where the future of farming lies.
BY: Danna Sabolik | PHOTO BY: J Alan Paul Photography
KYLE SCHULTZ Vendor Recommendations
Tell us about your farm. It's my dad and I's first year farming in a partnership. Prior to this year Grandpa Lyle, my dad Ryan, and I farmed together in cooperation. This year Grandpa has retired from day to day work. My brother Cody also farms with us in our operation
NDSU Extension Service
What is your background? I went to NDSU for ag economics, and I guess my backup plan was a career in ag lending. I always wanted to be a part of the farm, but it was about if the timing was right for a transition. It happened the opportunity was there, so I took advantage.
but has a great job as a master electrician working primarily in agriculture so he can't be here all the time but brings back lots of ideas for us. The women are also very involved in the farming. My grandma Eileen has been an awesome farm wife from hauling around seed, anhydrous, driving the combine and still getting all the meals made. Also my mom Kristi works in Fargo but is always here when we need her. The women make this operation work. We grow row crops of corn, soybeans, wheat and some alfalfa. We also raise 100 head of Angus cattle.
What practices does your farm embrace to diversify and stay viable in today's markets? This farm has always been a diversified operation. Way back when the farm was started my great-great grandfather had a threshing ring and he would thresh for all the neighbors and our farm was heavily involved in wheat production as well as cattle. Over the years there has been a little bit of everything here. Now, we focus on cattle and row crops.
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Residential Paving Commercial Paving Sealcoating Driveways Parking Lots Seasonal Lots
BUCKâ€™S PAVING 723 3rd St S Breckenridge, MN 56520 701-204-1587
What are the most valuable tools in your box?
The best tool we have is our two main input suppliers doing what they do for our day to day operation. The local elevator and coop, Farmers Union Oil Company of Embden and Embden Grain. The great thing about these two businesses, in my opinion, is
they are completely independent of major brands. Having resources like that on our farm that can help guide us in the right direction without having a vested interest in a product is huge. I feel these two businesses make our community one of the best communities around not only because of how close they are to us but how they have held true to their core values. They both have been around for almost as long as the town of Embden has been in existence and will stay as long our community stands with them.
together (when we're not in quarantine). If someone's driving by they might stop and ask a question or give advice
about something we're working on. It's great to brainstorm with someone who is in a similar situation, but also not involved with your
Our autosteer system. It's not just about sitting in your
farm and its trademark struggles and issues. I think that's one of the
tractor and playing on your phone, although that happens
biggest changes in farming in the last so many years, that people have
too, but if you have autosteer lined in you can make sure
forgotten what their community means to them. We all need each
everything is working correctly. If you didn't have it on the planter, you'd be following your tram line and could have a unit pushing the whole length of the field and not notice. Every little percentage matters. A one percent increase in your corn yield, that's $6/acre you're making up.
Second are our peers. We talk on the phone or do things
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other to be successful.
What are some obstacles outside of your control that make farming difficult? One big challenge is logistics. It's not really out of my control, but it's out of my financial control. I'd love to do a vertical integration beef system but that's not something I can do right now. An example of this dilemma is that our soybeans are shipped somewhere in the U.S. to be processed and then fed and used as oil elsewhere. Then shipped back to us. I think other states are better in their livestock feeding operation regulations and have more processing plants in tighter areas. North Dakota is getting there but logistics are still a big obstacle.
What's it like working with your dad every day? It's pretty fun most days and I'm lucky I get to do it. I think in any family operation there will be disagreements but we also complement each other very well. He graduated from NDSU with a crop and weed science degree and with my ag economics degree
What is a project you're working on in your free time? We're working on remodeling the original Schultz
we both have our own areas of expertise. Just yesterday morning we
Tell me more about your row crops.
had a disagreement, he
We raise corn and soybeans mostly in rotation, and
thought we should get
farmstead. The original
we're very fortunate our corn has been able to adapt to
the combine out and
farmhouse is still standing
North Dakota's weather. Our farm was predominately
combine some more of
and we have no known
a wheat farm until the late 1990's or early 2000's and
our corn we have left
history of when the house
it's definitely changed since then. The profit potential
because the ground is
was built but during the
of corn and soybeans really pushed wheat out of the
still frozen. I reminded
remodel we've been finding
him the last time we ran
newspapers from the 1800s
the head that close to the
still written in German. It's
frozen ground since the
little bit of corn we have left is lodged we broke off corn snouts. So we mutually agreed it wasn't a good idea. We are also able to use
Tell me more about your cattle. We raise about 100 head beef cattle and feed our calves to 900 pounds. Our goal is to one day finish out all of our cattle in our own feedlot but our current setup gets too muddy in the spring. To us, the cattle are more of a hobby. My dad refers to it as a "money-saving proposition" compared to a "money-making proposition" but it's also a great complement to our grain operation. We can utilize cornstalks for free feed for the fall and winter months and our alfalfa only betters the ground surrounding it. It's really our hobby that makes us money sometimes and keeps us home and not traveling.
minimal services and save money that way too. With his agronomy knowledge and my background in economics and business, we both have our areas to focus on.
We believe in the advantage that registered Angus cattle genetics bring to our operation.
What software do you recommend? I really like the Climate Fieldview system. It's easy to use and it just works. Last night we were updating paperwork and were looking for a scale ticket. We dropped the info we had it into Fieldview and we found the harvest date that we were combining on the one field and matched it up to the scale ticket right away. It worked very well and it's extremely easy to use. You just plug it into the combine or tractor and it just works. You have to set up a few things, input your data and connect to Bluetooth and it just goes to work. Really the possibilities are endless if you keep investing in the services but we have a very basic version and it does the job just fine. I also have my own software I've created in Microsoft Excel. I like the acronym KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. I use something I created in college to track my expenses and keep it updated daily. I know there are other similar softwares out
Larissa Feiring is Schultz's partner and loves helping with the cattle. She was raised on a ranch near McHenry, N.D. with cattle and some crops. She is currently a senior at NDSU and will graduate with her degree in animal science and a minor in agribusiness this May. She has also served as the 94th Little International Manager for the Saddle and Sirloin club at NDSU. Together the couple has an eight-month-old daughter, Caroline.
there, but I like the one I made and I'm not paying someone else to produce that information. There are also some great resources with NDSU Extension. Their Farm Business Management program is second to none for our country and it's absolutely out of this world what they put out there for us to use for free. That's our tax and checkoff dollars at work right there. As far as the cattle, we use artificial insemination to provide the best genes to our herd, and also a system called Cowbytes, for tracking ration management. It's easy to use and update feed formulas. It does all the work for you with its programming. Computers are really an everyday occurrence on our farm in about everything we do. If you had told my dad that back in '93 he'd be shocked, but it's true.
Tell me about growing alfalfa. A specialty crop that we dabble in is Alfalfa. Alfalfa has been by far our most profitable crop on a per-acre basis. While we raise it simply for feed for our own cattle but also for sale to dairy farms has been something that has given us a great deal of pride. We utilize two clear span hoop buildings for hay storage all year long that keeps the hay as nice as the day it was baled all year long. Alfalfa actually encompasses a very small percentage (about 5%) of our farm acreage and I would not change that after what 2019 can teach you about raising specialty crops. I feel we had the perfect acreage for trying to raise a quality crop this last year and we did have very good luck doing that. My opinion on raising alfalfa is that it humbles a person because you might think you have the best hay you have ever made it comes back with a feed test of not very good and then a field that may not look the best comes back with great feed results. While I would love to raise more because of the profit potential it no doubt exposes yourself to a great deal of risk. That risk can be avoided by not biting off more than you can chew.
MAY / JUNE 2020
What is your advice to other farmers? In farming, you can't let yourself get too high or low. To compare it to sports, you're not going to win the Superbowl every year
Computers are really an everyday occurrence on our farm in about everything we do. If you had told my dad that back in '93 he'd be shocked, but it's true."
but if you're a playoff contender every year you're going to do OK. A 500 record is like breaking even on the farm. You have to enjoy the challenge, too. If you don't like farming then it's too much to take sometimes. It has to really be a passion, a way of life. You have to control what's in your control every day and prepare it for the next generation.
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Interview by Danna Sabolik Photos provided by Amy Greenberg
By connecting American agriculture volunteers with those in developing countries, AgriCorps is meeting the needs of rural young people and engaging them in agriculture. NDSU master's candidate, Amy Greenberg shares her experience in the program and where her future is headed. 68
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Transformative Ag Solutions in Developing Countries griCorps is an organization that connects American agriculture professionals to the demand for experiential, schoolbased, agricultural education in developing countries. Abroad in these developing countries, American professionals help implement food security through improved agriculture production and value chains. We spoke with 2018 AgriCorps Fellow Amy Greenberg to learn more about the organization and her experience
with it. Greenberg is originally from Eagan, Minn. and completed her bachelor's degree in animal science from NDSU in 2018. During her undergraduate degree, she spent a semester studying in New Zealand, learning about their agricultural system. Following her graduation, she went to Ghana with AgriCorps. During her time there, she taught agricultural science to junior high students, served as the school's 4-H advisor and worked alongside farmers to learn about tropical agriculture. Upon returning from her trip with AgriCorps, Greenberg worked with Dr. Marisol Berti, the Forages and Biomass Production Specialist at NDSU. She then began her master's degree in Crop and Weed Science in May 2019, with Dr. Berti as her advisor.
The Founding of AgriCorps AgriCorps was founded in 2013 by Trent McKnight. McKnight is a lifelong cattle rancher in Throckmorton, Texas and has bachelor's and master's degrees in Agricultural Economics and Comparative Politics from Oklahoma State University and The London School of Economics, respectively. McKnight founded Agricorps as a Peace Corps type of organization, but with a focus on agriculture specifically, rather than the Peace Corps' focus on social and economic development. Stemming from McKnight's passion for agriculture and leadership, he created the worldwide non-profit focused on reducing hunger and poverty in developing countries through agricultural education. In a 2013 press release, McKnight said, “The knowledge that American graduates of agriculture possess is invaluable to these still largely agrarian societies as they seek to learn better, more efficient agricultural practices.” In a world where we will need to be able to feed nine billion people by the year 2050, young people across the globe need to see agriculture as an attractive and viable career path. However, in many developing countries, farming is synonymous with the peasant class and young people in these regions strive to relocate to nearby cities, which are unfamiliar lands to them. To achieve the rise of the farming profession, AgriCorps was founded with the idea that American agricultural graduates can serve as agriculture teachers to junior and senior high schools in developing countries. For an entire year, these Americans will live in a rural village, teaching in schools, supporting local farming programs and teaching farming as a science and a business. In 2016, McKnight told AgriPulse, "We can’t feed the future without farmers, and we can’t have farmers tomorrow, without future farmers today." 70
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Future Farmer: Why did you want to get involved in agriculture in the first place? Amy Greenberg: I found a passion for agriculture in high school on my grandparent’s dairy farm in Prior Lake, Minn. When I became more aware of food insecurity and environmental concerns in both the present and future, I wanted to prepare for a career where I could be involved in solutions. I also quickly realized the unique work ethics and passions that are within the people of agriculture, and I knew that I wanted to be involved with an industry like that. FF: What about AgriCorps had the biggest impact on you? AG: Interacting with people in a new culture is always my favorite and most impactful aspect of any experience. AgriCorps gave me the chance to work with some of the most driven individuals within agriculture in the country. The farmers I came to know weren’t just farming for their own operation, but they were farming for the people of Ghana. Ghana has some of the most joyful and welcoming people that I have ever come to know, and that really impacted my own attitude and purpose throughout my day to days. FF: Has your work with AgriCorps changed the way you view agriculture as a whole?
FF: Tell us about your experiences in Ghana and how it impacted your views on the industry.
AG: Absolutely. I think that we get so caught up in differences from place to place, which should absolutely be embraced, but it should not be seen as a barrier for collaboration. I never realized how similar agriculture is no matter where you go. Regardless of technology, climate or crops grown, people need to do the best they can to take care of the soil for future years while doing the best they can do take care of crops in the current year to have a successful harvest. The openness of farmers to try new practices in order to improve on that gives me a lot of hope for the future.
AG: We weren’t in Ghana to teach Ghanaians how to farm. We were there to help form relationships and connect gaps in the agriculture industry so there could be more collaboration for improvements. This is just as necessary in agriculture here in the U.S. There are still gaps in the industry (for example, organic versus conventional) and there’s a sense of competitiveness between farming neighbors, when really farmers need to collaborate with one another now more than ever. I view agriculture today as having many challenges now and to come, but those challenges can find solutions when people are willing to listen to new ideas and to implement them in order to find improvements. FF: You're now in the plant sciences master's program at NDSU. Can you tell us about your master’s project? AG: My master’s thesis is about improving fertilizer management for alfalfa, specifically for the nutrient potassium. Potassium is an important nutrient for all plants, but especially for helping alfalfa survive the winter. The goal is to better understand how potassium should be applied in soil types that are known to hang on tightly to potassium, making it more difficult for the plant to access. By knowing the best times and rates to apply potassium for differing soil types, alfalfa is less likely to be winter-killed, which prevents huge economic loss for growers.
FF: What about forages and animal nutrition interests you? AG: I love how forages is the bridging factor between crops and livestock. People can become dividing with being a “rancher” or being a “farmer,” but the two aspects of agriculture rely heavily on each other. Being able to work towards improving the quality of forages is so interesting to me, because it gives potential to improve the health of livestock. FF: What types of things are you researching as far as forages and land use? AG: Aside from my thesis, I have also been a part of cover crop researching projects. Cover crops have numerous benefits directly to soil health and indirectly to crop health. However, there are challenges with establishment in the Upper-Midwest region due to the shorter growing season. There are lots of projects looking at the best species for cover crops, the timing of planting, seeding rates and termination/harvest so that incorporation of cover crops in farming systems across the region becomes more common. FF: Having had your experiences with AgriCorps and your education at NDSU, where do you see the future of agriculture? AG: I see the future of agriculture as quickly adopting new technologies, while still keeping the basics of conservation agriculture in mind. I’m not scared of the predicted challenges we will see in the future, because agriculture professionals want to do better in food production and environmental care, which will drive technology improvements. I also see an industry that will be stronger at communicating to consumers about products, which will have to be done by understanding the perspectives of consumers. Our region faces numerous challenges with unpredictable weather from year to year, so I see the future in this region as trying new methods to combat weather effects. Also, women are more involved in agriculture today than ever, and that involvement is only going to grow. When there is more equal opportunity in the industry, the best will be better, and the industry and world needs better. To learn more about AgriCorps, visit them online at agricorps.org 72
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By connecting young American agriculture professionals to schoolaged citizens abroad, Agricorps is addressing the challenges of the global agriculture industry. To do this, Agricorps works to achieve three objectives: 1. Recruit high quality, motivated, creative American college graduates in the agriculture field with past experiences in FFA or 4-H. These graduates volunteer one year to teach agricultural education in developing countries. 2. Meet the needs of rural young people by equipping them with agriculture and life skills to become healthy, critical-thinking farmers and democratic citizens 3. Transfer agriculture technology and methodology through youth, as early adopters, into farming communities in developing countries. *Information according to agricorps.org
POD CASTS FOR THE FARMER
Agriculture Applied: Innovate Relate Create with NDSU Extension
Grab a cup of joe and settle in to ponder innovative ideas with today's producers and NDSU Extension Specialists. Join Nordby in reflection on generational changes which can help create a better tomorrow.
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Legacy Farmer The Podcast
Join host, Jace D. Young, as he leads you through the truth about being a Modern Day Farmer, Rancher, Entrepreneur, Married Spouse and Parent.
Let's Talk Beef Podcast
Successful Farming Podcast
The Let's Talk Beef Podcast was created by John Boyum as a way to help promote Beef producers and to hear their ranch stories from across the country. John and his family will be traveling across the country, in a converted school bus, gathering stories from the great Beef producers and families to share with other beef producers and consumers alike.
Go in-depth into the topics that affect farmers and ranchers. Hear from industry leaders and experts on topics ranging from agronomy, technology, rural lifestyle, ag policy, farm machinery and more.
The Working Cows podcast gives you something to think about as you seed to maximize the effectiveness of your cattle operation and the joy your family receives from this lifestyle.
Hosted by two commercial row-crop farmers, Field Work is a podcast that provides space for frank, realistic discussions about the benefits and challenges of sustainable agriculture. Hosts Zach Johnson and Mitchell Hora explore successes and challenges farmers experience as they adopt new practices, without greenwashing over the difficulties.
The Thriving Farmer Podcast
The Grain Waves Podcast
If you're looking to build a profitable farm that works, The Thriving Farmer Podcast is for you. Learn the latest tricks and strategies from successful farmers, strategize with in-depth interviews with leaders in the industry, and connect with stories of farmers just like you. With over 15 years of farming background, Kilpatrick has the experience and authority to bring your practical advice, ask the hard questions, tease out the gold nuggets, and help share what it's really like to build a truly profitable sustainable farm.
The podcast offering real-time insights and analysis of grain markets, hosted by Indigo Ag's Rodney Connor and Gabe Sheets-Poling. Combined, the two have over 35 years of experience in agriculture and grain trading, with Rodney focusing on mathematics and Gabe on behavioral economics. Listen in as the two answer questions about volatility, long and short positions, and every bearish and bullish call in between.
Connection to the Land O'Lakes, Inc. coop means being part of something greater than yourself â€“ working to benefit the communities around us and advancing technology to feed human progress. As a farmer-owned cooperative, we're a different kind of company united in a common cause. Join host Kim Olson as we explore the farmer-to-fork community in a range of topics and guests.
The Rural Woman Podcast
The Rural Woman Podcast is a collection of stories from women in farming, ranching, homesteading, agriculture and more. Each of these women are doing life in their own unique way and sharing their stories. Tune in each episode to be inspired by these amazing Rural Women.
Emerging Prairie is adapting to a working-from-home lifestyle
like most of the world, but that doesn't mean they're slowing
down on their mission. As they
do best, they are bringing to light outstanding people, businesses and missions throughout the
community. Including an update
on their autonomous Grand Farm, this month's contributions feature Rebecca Undem, American
Agri-Women, Dakota Micro,
Inc. and the story behind Fisher Price's famous farm toys.
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Grand Farm update An update on what is happening with Emerging Prairie’s Grand Farm and where the inspiration for North Dakota’s own autonomous farm came from, all over the globe.
Ag Innovators We spoke with Michelle Parnett-Dwyer of The Strong in Rochester, New York where classic farm toys are curated and collected.
Meet Rebecca Undem. She’s an author, farm wife, marketing expert, podcast host, speaker, coach, entrepreneur and smalltown advocate from Oakes, N.D.
Women in Agriculture
Learn about the American Agri-Women, the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women from Carrie Marshall-Moore, the American AgriWomen VP of Communications and North Dakota Agri-Women president.
Dakota Micro of Cayuga, N.D. has been innovating since their inception in 1994 and have plans to continue to be a leader in the ag manufacturing industry for years to come.
Photo provided by Emerging Prairie
Grand Farm News: What’s Happening
Around the World By Dr. William Aderholdt, Grand Farm Test Site Manager
A future of autonomous systems in agriculture brings with it the promise of solving several key challenges facing the world in the next 30 years. This is why North Dakota’s Grand Farm focuses on autonomy in its push towards the next generation of agriculture technology, the integration of systems. Integration of systems is the merging of multiple tracks of technology advancing the agriculture industry forward, including internet-of-things, high autonomy and digitization of agriculture.
hile autonomous systems are the “talk-of-the-town” in agriculture, they have existed for decades, providing operator assistance and partial assistance to growers. The excitement now centers on the movement into conditional autonomy, which can include technologies like self-driving tractors, drones and precision devices that adjust on their own. Olds College and Harper Adams University are two examples of organizations pushing the edge of conditional autonomy:
Olds College – Canada Alberta, Canada’s Olds College is working on its Smart Farm as a part of the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network. This program will support the development and testing of advanced agriculture technology, including autonomous systems. The program is relatively young (starting in 2018). However, they have already begun to demonstrate capabilities of how data could be collected and utilized to produce productivity, profitability and sustainability. Their current set of projects works to put tools in the hands of the farmer, which increases their decision-making capabilities by providing insights and recommendations for farm management. The purpose of the Smart Farm is less about showing individual autonomous systems, and instead showing how multiple systems can come together as a demonstration of current and future capabilities in farming.
Harper Adams University – United Kingdom Perhaps the best example of autonomous systems existing in agriculture is in the United Kingdom at Harper Adams University. In 2019 at Fargo’s Cultivate Conference, Kit Franklin (a faculty member at Harper Adams University) spoke about the past two years of Hands-Free Hectare. This project completely worked two acres of land without a single human present. This included seeding, watering, spraying and harvesting crops. This demonstration showed the cutting-edge capabilities of multiple pieces of equipment working together to complete a full growing season. Harper Adams has already accomplished this with barley and winter wheat. Now, Harper Adams University is expanding this effort to 35-acres and working to increase the efficiency of their work. While exciting, this work still uses an operator to map the specific paths of the equipment, providing it 80
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specific instructions. As the Hands-Free Hectare begins to scale back their direct interaction with this equipment and the decision making necessary to be successful, they will move closer to high autonomy.
Plains Test Site, Grand Sky and Grand Farm are leading in innovation, demonstration and research.
In March 2020, Grand Farm announced the recruitment of Plug-andThis demonstration has begun to show what the next five-toPlay North Dakota. Plug-and-Play will recruit agriculture technologies ten years of agriculture technology could look like. The potential from around the world to North Dakota to participate in pushing this for small and mid-sized farms technology further. to flourish with the increase of smaller, modular and lighter pieces It is for all of these reasons that of equipment. The ability to buy North Dakota expects to be a There are five levels of equipment specifically for the size solution to these global challenges of your farm (an example might be and a globally-recognized leader autonomy in agriculture systems: two-to-three car-sized combines). in the future of agriculture Level 1: Operator Assistance: Minimal levels technology, led by Grand Farm. of automation, assisting with specific, small The precision of this equipment, functions of individual pieces of equipment. An in-part due to the smaller size, Grand Farm, led by Emerging example of this is a computer chip that monitors also allows for the preservation of Prairie, (whose mission is speed and automatically adjusts seed distance. land in wetlands and shelter-belts. connecting and celebrating As they continue forward, we will the regionâ€™s entrepreneurial Level 2: Partial Assistance: Entire functions of continue to learn about what the ecosystem) aims to capitalize farming are automated; however, hands-on future might hold for farmers. on the regionâ€™s potential in the operators are still required and decision-making agriculture and technology is managed by the farmer. An example of this is industries. The end goal of a combine which can manage most operations Grand Farm is to create the farm North Dakota without inputs from the operator. of the future that will impact North Dakota (and the world) by as a Global Level 3: Conditional Autonomy: Entire functions developing new opportunities and are automated without the need for an operator; accelerating change. Leader the farmer is still the primary decision-maker for most operations. We will discuss how this is Grand Farm is designed to inspire This is the perfect time for North being utilized by Harper Adams University in the collaboration among businesses, Dakota to step into the global ring United Kingdom. organizations and entrepreneurs of autonomous to develop the future farm, which systems in agriculture and lead Level 4: High Automation: Most functions on the we believe will solve issues critical the United States in this exciting farm are managed autonomously. Parameters to family farms worldwide: labor endeavor. The rising world for farm management are set by the farmer, and shortages and rising operational population is expected to reach 10 the equipment and devices operate accordingly. costs. billion people in the next 30 years. This is Grand Farmâ€™s goal. The availability of skilled labor is diminishing year-over-year. These Level 5: Complete Automation: All functions of Learn more by visiting www. are key challenges the Grand Farm the farm can be managed autonomously; this GrandFarm.com is looking to address. By 2025, includes decision making which can be handled the market for autonomous farm without the interaction of the farmer. equipment will be $140 billion globally and will only continue to rise. North Dakota has all of the necessary components to be a leader in this field. North Dakota has a rich history of agriculture and quickly integrating new technologies into our farming practices. North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota lead in agriculture and drone research. The United States Department of Agriculture has multiple research sites in the state. The Northern FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
Farm Toys By Lee Schwartz
Farm toys have a rich history, with both farm kids and city kids. I had a “Fisher-Price Little People Farm” long before I even knew what it was called (and yes—with the barn door that said, “moo”). The Grand Farm team reached out to The Strong, officially known as “The Strong National Museum of Play” to get their insight into why farm toys have been so popular for decades. We wanted to know more about farm toys and their impact throughout the years, so we went to the experts! Michelle Parnett-Dwyer is a curator of toys and dolls at The Strong in Rochester, New York. She holds an MLS in Library Science and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has worked at The Strong Museum for more than ten years and she considers the Kewpie Dolls and the Humpty Dumpty Circus among her favorite artifacts in the collections.
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Michelle Parnett-Dwyer Curator of toys and dolls at The Strong in Rochester, NY.
Tell us more about the Strong National Museum of Play and your role there. The Strong, located in Rochester, New York, owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, documents and historical materials related to play. This unprecedented assemblage offers a unique interpretive and educational window into the critical role of play in human physical, social and intellectual development and the ways in which play reflects cultural history. I am the curator responsible for the museum’s collection of toys and dolls. Farm toys have become part of Americana—they have their own websites, own museum and get over 245 million responses when you Google search “farm toys.” So obviously they have a greater appeal than just to farm kids? Children and adults have always been interested in farm life. In 1658, John Amos Comenius published the picture book 'Orbis Pictus,' which provided illustrations of farm animals and the sounds each animal makes. Today, people are really interested in the local and organic food movement. The lifestyle of a farmer has often been romanticized but, in
reality, the cost of farmland and the equipment are prohibitive to most. Toys related to farming allow you to explore a world that might otherwise be inaccessible. Playing with farm toys helps children to develop empathy, social responsibility, problem-solving skills and the value of hard work.
audience at the time the lines hit the market, but now have a fanbase among collectors. We have a few Shaun the Sheep toys at home.
I grew up—as a city kid—playing with the Fisher-Price Little People Farm. Can you tell us more about that specific toy?
Play patterns seem to stay the same, but play has become less free-ranging. And of course, there is the onset of the digital age.
The Play Family Farm was introduced around 1968 and it proved an instant success. The playset came with a barn, animal figures, Fisher-Price Little People figures and equipment. The barn made a “moo” sound, too. I believe it was the first play-and-carry set for the Fisher-Price Little People line. The set has gone through a number of changes over the years (newer versions have music and songs), but the play value remains the same. What other farm toys have become iconic? Some of my favorites from the museum’s collections are Dinky Toys Massey Harris Farm Tractor and the Matchbox Ford Tractor. There’s also the Stock Farm Play Sets from the 1930s, the True Life Farm Playset from the 1950s and Happy Valley Farm from the early 1980s. Some farm-inspired toys, like the Barnyard Commandos, did not resonate with the
How have toys—and farm toys— evolved over the past few decades?
Farm Simulation computer games are one of the top sellers. The numbers—again—would suggest their appeal is to a far greater audience than just farm kids. Why do you think today’s “gamers” find farming entertaining? Younger generations are motivated by the food movement. People have a growing interest in sustainability and social responsibility. Farm simulation games provide players with a sense of accomplishment— growing, building and caring for something— without having to purchase acres of land or investing in advanced farming machinery. Learn more about The Strong Museum of Play at https://www.museumofplay.org/
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Author, farm wife, marketing expert, podcast host, speaker, coach, entrepreneur and small-town advocate You’re from Oakes, N.D., population 1,721. Tell us about growing up there and why you returned there again, years later? What life lessons did you learn from growing up in Oakes? Oakes, N.D., was a great place to grow up! I was raised on a farm about five miles northwest of Oakes where I could ride my bike down the gravel road to visit our neighbors, which happened to include two sets of my grandparents, my dad’s parents and my “bonus” grandparents—the couple who adopted us because we start to call them “grandma” and “grandpa” and they never corrected us. My mom’s parents also lived right in town and operated a Ben Franklin store on Main Street while I was growing up. From watching my grandparents and my own parents, the most important thing I learned was the value of hard work. My parents are still, to this day, two of the hardest working people I know. The value of community and really looking out for one another was also made apparent to me. In all the things that I was involved in, I truly felt so supported and so loved. My dad is a fourth-generation farmer and having no one to carry on that family legacy is what eventually brought my husband and me back to Oakes over a decade ago. Was that part of the plan from the beginning? Not a chance. I always thought I was a little “too much” for my small town and I didn’t always love being a farmer’s kid. But now with three kids of our own, I'm so thrilled that we get to raise them in an environment that gives them that same sense of safety, security and support that I got when I was growing up. Oakes recently lost its ShopKo. Other than the obvious, what impact did that have on your town? I can’t lie, when we lost our ShopKo, I personally felt pretty devastated and I know a lot of the rest
of the community felt that way, too. Initially, we actually fought to try and save it, since the company announced the initial wave of closures was due to poor sales performance. We created an online petition and encouraged residents to submit feedback to ShopKo’s headquarters. All of that felt kind of inspiring until the bankruptcy announcement was made and we realized that all of rural America was losing their ShopKo stores. I believe that small communities can thrive in times of both tragedy and difficulty, and this is one of those situations where I think good things can come from it. One of the things we learned as a community is that if we really do love a local store, we need to show it, not just with words, but with actions. Losing the ShopKo chain for rural America has really impressed upon me the importance of shopping at our locally owned businesses. These business owners do everything for our small towns—they sponsor our kids' activities and all the events our communities get to enjoy. It’s easy to take them for granted and assume they’ll always be there. At the same time, locally owned businesses need to continually work to up their game in terms of service—people have options they didn’t always have and we don’t want people to shop our stores only because they have no other choice. We want them to want to shop at our stores. So I think this loss has kind of reignited our sense of community pride in local businesses which is always a good thing. You’re a strong advocate for small towns—and especially for women in small towns. What issues are they dealing with most right now? And what can they do to cope? As of this writing, we're smack dab in the middle of COVID-19 and still practicing social distancing, so we’re definitely presented with a different set of challenges than what would be typical. But the reason I love supporting women in small towns is because women are community builders, and before I get too far, I don't want to suggest that somehow men aren’t. But there is somewhat of a traditional set of roles that still play out in most small towns and it's that men hold the “leadership” positions, and women do all the “other stuff,” like fundraisers, committee work, etc. I want to encourage women to find ways to move their ideas forward, discover their unique voices and remind them that they’re not alone. Anything really is possible and that’s how we FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
cope with the challenges of life—we believe in the power of that hope. It's a beautiful time to enjoy both the simplicity and safety of living in a small town with the ability to reach the world with the internet. The size of our life is not determined by our zip code. You’re 62 episodes (as of this writing) into your podcast, “Small Town Big Talk Show.” What three things have you learned from those interviews that have surprised you? The 'Small Town Big Talk Show' is one of the best things about my work. I am constantly amazed by the incredible people that I get to talk to, and I love that every single episode, I walk away learning as much and feeling as inspired as the audience does. It's hard to narrow down the lessons I’ve learned, but there are definitely some themes that continue to emerge and that's a super fun thing to see. The whole point of the talk show is to find people that are living out what we like to call 'living big in a small town.' The coolest thing is that this looks different to everybody—there is no one way to live big in a small town—it’s an ideal that we can all chase. We're not limited just because we’re in a small community and that’s the first big lesson.
poor market conditions in 2019 or now with COVID-19, farmers do what needs to be done. While my life has changed pretty dramatically with our current situation, my dad and my husband are still getting up and going to work every day. Partly, this is simply who they are, but they've also been deemed essential workers and I think there's something to be said about that; agriculture was declared an essential industry by the President of the United States. Farmers are some of the most innovative business people alive and I don't always think that they’re viewed that way, especially by the media or people that aren't connected to agriculture. In small rural communities like Oakes, we get it. We see it. They are always figuring out what to do next. So much of their livelihood is dependent on factors outside of their control, so they focus on controlling what they can.
The second thing is that all of the people that we feature on the show really have a spirit and an enthusiasm for creating meaning where they live. The idea that we get to add meaning, wherever we are, is so empowering. No matter how tiny your town is, there are ways to infuse meaning into the world that's around you.
With all the things they can’t control, they adapt and they flex. That’s what innovation is: it’s creatively tackling the challenges presented to you. And so, I don't really see that big of a difference in how they're handling the turmoil of COVID-19, they're doing what they've always done.
The final big lesson is that we get to create an impact so much bigger than ourselves in small towns. We often can do things more quickly because there are fewer people and generally less bureaucracy—again, a quick caveat that every community has some politics to navigate and those dynamics definitely can be frustrating—but overall, one individual can make a huge dent. The investment in one person’s growth has a ripple effect that touches so many other people and that truth has become a belief that guides a lot of my work.
What’s next for Small Town America? Ten years from now, how will they be different?
Growers (and, in turn, small towns) were hit pretty hard by the bad 2019 harvest...and now they’re dealing with COVID-19. Is there anything positive to gain from dealing with both of these crises almost simultaneously? You know, farming is a really challenging industry, and because I don't actively work on the farm alongside my husband, I don’t feel like I can be a proper spokesperson for agriculture. But I can tell you what I know about farmers and it’s this: regardless of the crisis, whether it's the difficulties that they were already dealing with due to both weather and
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Well, all I can tell you is the vision of what I hope for small-town America a decade from now. I hope that more small communities have figured out a way to foster entrepreneurship. One of my core beliefs is that creating an environment where ideas can be successfully launched is the way forward for small towns. Nothing can squelch the individual spirit necessary to start and run a successful business and the more people that we can encourage to do that in our local communities, the better. I hope that more of our communities start to embrace art and culture as an important element of community-building, rather than something that would just be nice to have. I think if we can focus on those things that make communities the kinds of places people want to live, so much of the other stuff that we think about from a community growth standpoint would take care of itself. Because ultimately, no matter what
kind of jobs we create, no matter what kind of businesses or industry we attract to a community, the community itself has to be a place where people want to live. I hope that we learn to replace the phrase, 'But we've always done it that way' with 'How would it look to make that work?' I hope we continue to hold onto the small-town traditions that make us strong and beautiful and safe, but at the same time, we have our heads up, looking forward and we're thinking about how we can become a great place for the future. On your website at RebeccaUndem.com, you offer a free “Small Town Survival Kit." Tell us what’s included in that. The Small Town Survival kit is a virtual toolkit offering tips, resources and ideas to equip you to find your voice, move your ideas forward and make an impact in your small town. I want to help everyone pursue the ideal of living big in their small town and this toolkit offers a jumping-off point to do that. In addition to everything else you’re doing, you’re now starting your own nonprofit in Oakes. Tell us about that project and the challenges/successes you’re having.
Our discussions are centered around the following questions: • How do we support the people who already live and work here? • How do we make our communities the kind of places where people love to live? • What partnerships do we need to create with other organizations that also have a desire to shape and mold the future of small towns? • What things do we need to bring to the front door of our communities, to give everyone the opportunity to grow? • How can we give others a way to create meaning in their communities? The challenge is getting this organization off the ground in such a difficult environment, but as we continue to tell the story of what we hope to create with Growing Small Towns, we’re finding no shortage of collaborations with partners and organizations that have a desire to serve the way that we do. We believe the communities that both collaborate and innovate are going to be the ones that survive, and at Growing Small Towns, we’re doing our part to facilitate that for the communities we serve. Follow all of Rebecca’s projects on her website, rebeccaundem.com
In mid-2019, I started a nonprofit organization called Growing Small Towns with the hope that we would renovate a main street building in the heart of Oakes to offer a co-working space and business incubator where we could host and facilitate events, education and experiences to support entrepreneurs and help people grow. We had secured funding from two partners prior to COVID-19, and to meet our renovation budget goal, we had two important fundraising events on the docket. COVID-19 shut those down. Those are the current challenges. But like any business trying to figure out how to survive this situation, we are digging deep into the mission of what we set out to do. The organization is not only this building; the goal is to support innovation and entrepreneurship in rural communities. Our goal is to serve the seven counties of SE North Dakota including Logan, McIntosh, Dickey, Lamoure, Sargent, Ransom and Richland.
Live From Cayuga: Dakota Micro Inc. By Lee Schwartz
Cayuga, North Dakotaâ€™s Dakota Micro, Inc. manufacturers ruggedized camera systems for safe and efficient operation of large and expensive equipment, as well as surveillance of challenging environments. Dakota Micro is proud to be a â€˜Made in Americaâ€™ manufacturer of their primary lines of cameras, including the AgCam, EnduraCam, and InnoPro systems. They are innovators in the field and have some innovative marketing to match--including a popular YouTube channel and appearances on Fox Business network. We interviewed their Director of Marketing, Jason Hagelstrom.
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How did Dakota Micro get their start? Dave and Charissa Rubey took over the family farm in Cayuga in Spring of 1994. Five years later, Dave developed a herniated disk in his neck which required a cervical fusion and forced him to wear a neck brace-which made it impossible for him to turn his head while driving the combine for the bean harvest. His wife, Charissa, was happy to pitch in and ecstatic to have a chance to run the combine. This lasted for all of 47 seconds as she proceeded to pick up a rock on the first pass across the field and wreck the entire front end of the combine. While the combine was getting repaired, Dave began looking for a way that he could complete the harvest--while he was in a full neck brace. (Charissa always jokes that Dave is the smartest socially-acceptable person she has ever met, and the camera system he created that allowed him to finish harvest was a perfect example of this.) Utilizing
Dave and Charissa Rubey Owners Dakota Micro
Dave’s original idea the AgCam camera was born the following Spring. The AgCam was a ruggedized camera system that farmers and ranchers could use to see in places that were difficult or impossible from the driver’s seat of their equipment. In 2002 Dakota Micro, Inc. was incorporated, and Dave and Charissa officially became owners of a manufacturing company. Over the next 4 years, the company grew at an exponential rate and by 2006, a decision had to be made, continue farming or put everything into their expanding business, because there simply wasn’t time to do both. After many thoughtful late-night conversations, it was decided that it was time to rent out the farmland and dive headfirst into their manufacturing business. Before COVID-19, what farming trends were you seeing? A big trend in farming was/is the use of the manufacturer’s monitors in the cab of the machine to see the video image. Most of the monitors being used in the machines today have video inputs in them, allowing for cameras to be connected with the use of an adapter cable. Dakota Micro has advised many large manufacturers with this process and has an extensive array of adapter cables to fit most video-capable 3rd party monitors. What is the future of farm safety? What will be new in 2025? Farmers love technology and use it every day. Whether they are planting their seed or steering their machines, technology helps their business to be more successful. We are constantly working with the manufacturers, dealers, and end-users to be the leader in the ruggedized camera industry for the farmers. Usually, by the time we think of a new product a farmer has already asked for it...and we need to play catch up to get to them. As machines continue to get larger and more complex, farmers are finding themselves needing to focus on multiple priorities, and one of the major safety concerns is sight. A lot of accidents have happened because of a lack of visibility, which is why you see the uptick in cameras out there. The picture quality of a monitor is something that is becoming more important, the Ag industry wants what every consumer in the world who owns a television wants, the clearest picture they can get. Dakota Micro’s new analog high definition AgCam and EnduraCam cameras, answer that call, with the 720p resolution. We soon recognized the need from farmers who wanted to monitor
calving barns, grain bin sites, even farm security right from their smartphone or laptop computer. Our InnoPro IP camera has evolved to an American Made IP solution that is not easy to find today. This camera line will continue to be in demand as security and surveillance, unfortunately, become more necessary in today’s world. What do you see for the future of farming in general? The future of farming is very bright, especially with the COVID-19 situation. Farming has always been an essential business, but now, even more, that is the case. All you need to do is listen to the news and you know that we are living in unprecedented times and we hope it ends soon, but there is no certain end date in place. Farmers will continue to be a major driver of this economy, in a time where a lot of the economy has quieted down. America needs farmers to fill their seedboxes, plant their crops, and raise their livestock so that people can get the food they need for their families. What has your company learned so far in dealing with COVID-19? There is a lot of uncertainty out there and people aren’t sure what they need or exactly what they should be doing now. Dakota Micro is doing our part. Our camera systems continue to support agriculture, and we have--by extension--been deemed an essential business. This doesn’t mean “business as usual.” In midMarch (like most companies) we stopped all travel and our sales team is now working from home, transitioning to a phone-based sales model instead of in-person visits. Our dealers have also reduced hours or closed their retail stores to the public, which has resulted in Dakota Micro doing more drop shipping directly to customers. While there has been a slowdown, we are fortunate to be in an industry where the wheels are still turning, and we have been able to continue to care for our dealers and end customers. As a company we have always known our employees are hardworking individuals who get up and come to work every day. It has become more important to maintain a safe place to work, with the implementation of the social distancing guidelines. We’re fortunate many of the guidelines have been in place for many years, such as wiping down and cleaning workstations, and distance between work areas to name a few. Without our amazing team at Dakota Micro, we know it would be more of a struggle and we feel very lucky for every one of them.
What will have a bigger impact on farmers, COVID-19 or 2019's terrible harvest? Both events have been touted as ‘unprecedented’, with each having major impacts on all aspects of agriculture. What will have a larger long-term negative impact on farmers and ranchers is still unknown. Producers can deal with one bad year of crops or livestock prices, but when coupling 2-3 years together, as we’ve seen, it’s a different story. Several producers either went under or have had to restructure simply because of the prolonged low commodity prices. Those that have survived thus far are likely very resourceful and will make it through the long haul. COVID-19 has crippled the long-term deal President Trump had just buttoned up with China. It remains to be seen what the lingering effects this virus will have on not only agriculture but the American Economy in general. One thing is for certain--it has given rebirth to the idea that America can go through yet another type of Industrial Revolution, taking care of herself and her people through self-sustainability. With that we need the farmers and ranchers of this great country not only providing food for us but for the rest of the world as well. I know you're very close to implement dealers...are you worried about their future? We would be lying if there wasn’t some worry about the dealers we work with. They are a very resilient bunch and we are here to support and help them during these difficult times. There will be setbacks and changes to be sure. We have seen consolidation of individual dealers into larger dealer groups for several years and the COVID-19 situation will continue to put pressure on the smaller dealers. We want to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to support all our dealers during this difficult time. We have always felt a strong partnership with our dealers and that is why we are striving to continue to manufacture our product in a safe environment, without 90
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the dealers we wouldn’t be where we are at. Tell us about your "Can We Break It?" markering campaign. Whose idea was it? What kind of impact has it made to your business and that product? We started shooting the “Can We Break It?” series in 2011. This was the brainchild of Dakota Micro’s CEO Charissa Rubey, who has starred in many of the earlier videos. We call this our own “internal, nonprofessional testing” of the cameras. It is a fun way to put our cameras through some real-world and non-real-world testing. We have blown the camera up with binary explosive, shot it with a rifle, drove over it with a car (and a skid-steer), hit it with a baseball bat, and cooked it in a microwave, just to name a few. We will do pretty much anything someone suggests because these people are our customers and know what they are dealing with day in and day out and also because it’s just plain fun. Throw out some ideas for more videos and we will make them happen! Fox Business loves you. Tell us how that began, and the impact those appearances have had for Dakota Micro. Yes, we had a blast with both the Fox & Friends and Fox Business News people, and we love them too! It started when we were asked to represent North Dakota at the “Made in America” product showcase at the White House in the summer of 2019. After the event, we were on our way back home when we got an email from Fox & Friends asking if we would be interested in being on the Saturday show. We were so excited to be part of that show and the exposure we got from it was great. Later in the fall, we were asked if we would like to be on “Mornings with Maria”, which airs on the Fox Business Network, for a show in November. This was another great opportunity, and this time they gave
us a full segment to talk about some of the things that were affecting us at the time. We were able to showcase our products and talk about them a little more in-depth. We are so honored to have the opportunity to represent North Dakota and appear on those shows. It’s always exciting to be able to share the Dakota Micro story and showcase camera lines. When you're talking to family growers about your products in 2020, who are you having that conversation with? There is a generational change happening in the industry. Operators in the 40-60 age range are curious and starting to look at more technology to help them operate in a safer manner. The equipment they grew up with is aged and newer equipment is more complicated and larger. The 40-and-under age range grew up with more technology and see it as a business necessity to improve productivity and drive yield (revenue) and profit. They are the group that is pushing for technology to help solve historic business problems. Being more tech-savvy, they have loads of ideas. They also tend to use the internet for more research and really decide what they want vs. going to the implement store and browsing. It’s a change from a marketing standpoint as well.
Our tag line in our videos is “See what you’ve been missing”. What that means is this: As a farmer, you are busy and have a lot on your plate... and try as you may, you will miss some things that could cause loss of profit, damage to equipment, or even worse--physical harm to someone. Our cameras can help you see those areas that you haven’t been able to in the past, or that you have been “missing”, which is Dakota Micro’s number one goal. Learn more about Dakota Micro by visiting www.DakotaMicro.com Check out their great YouTube videos using the search term “dakotamicro”.
We sponsor a few YouTube Influencers to help promote our product. One of those influencers said that his dad didn’t see the need for cameras. When we sent out some cameras they hooked it up on his dad’s machine...and now he won’t run without them. We hear that a lot from people at trade shows or events we attend, where the older generation didn’t use cameras and thought cameras weren’t a necessity. Once they see the benefit of the camera they don’t want to go back, or even run their machine without one. This is the message we are pushing and sharing with the public, cameras are a necessity, not only for safety but for convenience and profitability as well.
Advocates for Ag By Lee Schwartz Photos provided by American Agri-Women
American Agri-Women is the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women with more than 50 state, commodity and agribusiness affiliate organizations—united to communicate with one another and with other consumers to promote agriculture. AAW members have been advocating for agriculture since 1974. Their members represent a large variety of agriculture, including flora, timber, crops/commodities, livestock, dairy, fisheries, research, business, natural resources, education and technology. Their members are of all ages, all backgrounds and are proud of what they do to provide food, fiber and fuel for the world. The National chapter, called American Agri-Women, is led by Callaway, Minnesota's Karolyn Zurn (who is also the past president of the Minnesota chapter of the AAW). Karolyn has extensive experience within the agriculture world, such as outreach and education; commodity groups and boards; international trade; government; and leadership roles. They are a force for truth and a reasoned, non-partisan voice for the agricultural community to the public.
To find out more about AAW, we interviewed Rock Lake, North Dakota’s Carie Marshall-Moore. Marshall-Moore is the American Agri-Women VP of Communications and North Dakota AgriWomen president.
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What impact has American Agri-Women made nationwide? AAW has state affiliates that carry out special and localized work and projects meeting the needs in their area. This gives members a chance to speak out about issues they may be dealing with and having that support system to do so effectively and positively. AAW attends National Ag Day and a Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C. each year. This gives the organization (and members) a chance to meet with their respective state legislative members as well as government officials and organizations where important issues, policy and legislation are concerned. The annual mid-year meeting in April where AAW sets its policies for the coming year and also drafts any white papers to take to Washington, D.C. Our Annual meetings are held in various locations throughout the United States, bringing knowledge to our members about many different types of agriculture. Tours of local farms and businesses, as well as speakers, help promote the specific region and why/how they do what they do to add to the agriculture industry. AAW also awards members and persons who are positive and effective promoters of the industry. Education is a large part of AAW. There are different outlets AAW utilizes to share agriculture to children and students from elementary to college, urban areas, consumers, rural mental health and through extensive social media. Upon [Karolyn] Zurn’s term of AAW Presidency, a new campaign is being rolled out: “Stand Up Speak Out for Agriculture.” With all the misinformation that gets shared, we want to be sure as advocates of ag we speak up and out for the truth.
Locally, you’re President of the North Dakota Agri-Women, which has almost 1,000 followers. Does the ND chapter have a different mission than the national group? Is the makeup of the membership different? NDAW was incorporated in 1983 and has roughly 50 active members. We just had our annual meeting in March so we are catching up on dues and updating our numbers for this current year. The North Dakota chapter is an affiliate of AAW which means we pay dues as a state organization to AAW—this gives us voting rights at national meetings. Members and affiliates must support the purpose and objective of AAW. This allows our state members to volunteer for committees that AAW has, and to run for positions on the Executive Committee as well. Our NDAW leadership team is me, Marsh Van Leare (VP), Jessica Dammen (Treasurer) and Sarah McNaughton (Secretary). Like AAW, our membership varies extensively in the fields of agriculture; chemical reps, NDSU-Extension agents, the trucking industry, communications/media—and to the financial/lending side of it. Both state and national organizations benefit from the vast degrees of knowledge all these women possess and share with others. Networking is such an important part of finding mentors who can guide you and help you in the industry today. Do you have a great impact story you could share?
Marshall-Moore’s family farms small grains, canola and soybeans. She is originally from the Minot area and has worked in the fields of fish and wildlife, zoology, large dairy, all areas of confinement swine production, natural resources and conservation planning with farmers and ranchers. She is active on many committees and advisory boards that further the advancement of agriculture and rural communities and is a proponent for youth and women stepping up into leadership and volunteering. Much of her social media outreach is done under the title “Tractor Rounds and Coffee Grounds.”
It never ceases to amaze me in two areas (and this is why I advocate so much for women and children to step up): 1. Children always speak their minds and absorb information like sponges. I have eight school classes I visit each month. I read a book and do a lesson based on agriculture and how it relates to their lives. When I return to a class weeks later and ask them what they remember, they are excited about it and they enjoy having their own “class farmer”...and we all know kids go home and tell their parents “cool stuff” so it’s my hope that the correct information about agriculture is then getting shared at home as well, making a double impact. 2. I have a core group of women in ag (that have more experience than I do) that I can call, text or chat with on social media at any given time and they can help me out in a situation. They give me advice, constructive criticism or encouragement. To these few I am grateful... and it’s women like these who impact my life so in the future I can hopefully be half the woman they are and impact someone else down the road who is going through similar situations I went through on the farm. How has being part of Agri-Women helped you grow, personally? I was only involved with NDAW for three years before becoming president. Six months into that position I was asked to run for the VP of Communications with AAW. Both roles have been an amazing learning adventure. The women have been so welcoming, helping me along the way. There are two organizations that I am most proud to be in—and this is one of them. It has given me a greater appreciation for all the work we do in agriculture throughout the country.
We get caught up in own states and our own issues so much of the time, we don’t always realize that someone somewhere else may be having the exact opposite circumstances. We need to be sympathetic, understanding and compliment each other continually. We don’t always know what someone else is going through and try to see both sides of things. What positive things are ahead for family farms? Family farms are needing to make changes to continue to succeed. This means many things. Some are joining with other families so they can farm more acres, and each person is specialized in a certain area of production. Some are having to quit farming. This is devastating, but for some a relief. Worrying daily about the farm is stressful, so some choose other options. No matter what choice families make, they do it because of their family. Family farms are all about “family” and it takes a family to make one function properly. Family farms may be getting larger in some areas, but with increased size comes with it the ability to give every family member income and a job. It also spreads costs over a larger area and allows for bulk purchases. Family farms include passion, desire, and a love for their work, families, and communities. What challenges are ahead? What worries you? It’s hard when I look at numbers to know the full scope of if family farms are declining or not. If a statistic says that we lost 10 family farms in the state, but three farms joined together because two farm children got married (and so now they all share land), we really only lost seven? I worry about the average age of farmers being so high. I know for many to come back to the small farms, they can’t afford to include another family member in the small amount of income they make. But on the other hand, many of those younger family members are still returning to ag in another way that is necessary for farms of all sizes. Agronomy, technology, communications, education and other avenues for both males and females are ever-increasing. It takes a whole gamut of people to seed a crop and sees it through to production into a final product that consumers purchase. I think it’s awesome that they are now including women in the numbers for farm leadership. Women have been involved in farming and agriculture going back to World War II when men were all drafted and left behind the farms. Has COVID-19 affected family farms yet? Are they more affected by the virus or the awful harvest season? I haven’t done much research on this yet. I know it is affecting the dairy industry tremendously. The past year hit a lot of farmers and
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ranchers (and other means of ag industry) below the belt. We still have wheat and oats out in the field! After the first snow, we were still able to go back out and get our canola off, but that was about it. Families here are still trying to get sunflowers and corn in. Right now I am usually trying to get seed ordered, helping look at crop insurance options and helping get shop work done on tractors and equipment—but I now have three children at home (ranging from 2nd grade to 7th grade) with lessons to be completed. So, we are doing our best. Before we can even attempt spring work, we still have to finish harvest from last year. Figuring out options with our neighbors (since their fields are around ours) and collaboratively planning a burn to get the ground ready for planting. It’s a combination of things. How can the rest of us help Agri-Women? Getting involved at your local level is always the best place to start. Be knowledgeable and prepared, then go vote! People from your counties and cities serve on state levels also. Whom you vote for governor, senators, representatives—are all people that agriculture (and other organizations) talk to at the state or national level. Knowing their stance on private property rights, environment, nutrition, education and so much more is key. You are putting them into that position, so have a good reason for it, not just marking a name. Or volunteer to be on conservation board, commodity board, Extension advisory committee or as a county commissioner. These are all great places to start to make a change right where you live. This moves upward and where organizations like NDAW and AAW step up and speak out at a higher level, many can’t (or don’t want to) participate. Tell us how our readers can JOIN your organizations? You can find all of that info for the AAW here: americanagriwomen.org/membership/why-join/ You can join AAW individually or through a state affiliate. You can contact either one of us for more information at: email@example.com or carie.marshallmoore@ americanagriwomen.org
Our region is sprouting with new ag businesses. From smart inventions to efficient innovations, the agriculture industry is evolving before...
Published on May 15, 2020
Our region is sprouting with new ag businesses. From smart inventions to efficient innovations, the agriculture industry is evolving before...