WHERE TECHNOLOGY AND AGRICULTURE COLLIDE
INTERVIEWS WITH GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM, NAEEM ZAFAR AND MORE!
CONTENTS Sponsored Content: SCHEELS ......................................... 8 Sponsored Content: Heartland Trust .......................... 14 Sponsored Content: Profile by Sanford ...................... 16 Sponsored Content: North Dakota Farm Bureau ... 18
Sponsored Content: Bremer Bank ............................... 20 Sponsored Content: Steffes Group .............................. 26 Sponsored Content: QR Posts ........................................ 28 Sponsored Content: Bremer Bank ............................... 32
GENESIS FEED TECHNOLOGIES
38 DOUG BURGUM 41 BOB SINNER 42 NAEEM ZAFAR 44 CHRIS TOLLES 45 CALE NESHEM 49 WILLIAM ADERHOLDT 50 REBEKAH CARLSON 53 EHSAN SOLTAN 54 ALLISON NEPVEUX 56 PETER SCHOTT 57 DORMAN BAZZELL
FROM SEED TO FEED
WHAT'S NEW AT THE GRAND FARM WITH RDO EQUIPMENT CO.
HOW WILL A CARBON MARKET IMPACT AGRICULTURE
GRAND FARM TESTIFIES AT UNITED STATES SENATE
FROM RANCH HAND TO AGTECH SOFTWARE DEVELOPER
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CULTIVATE CONFERENCE SPEAKER PREVIEW
May/June 2021 Volume 2 Issue 3
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From a Passion for Fishing to now a Passion for Serving
Ben Fleischacker went into the professional world early, but could never break away from the rural lifestyle; from fixing fences to branding and fieldwork, it has always been a part of his life. Growing up in a small community, the values of a strong work ethic and accountability were instilled in Fleischacker at a young age. Today, those same values carry into his lifestyle at SCHEELS.
Fleischacker believes the vast access to public waters, as well as cost-efficiency, makes the activity of fishing so popular amongst smaller communities and rural areas. "With fishing, a person can spend $100 and have enough fishing equipment and tackle to go out and catch about any fish," says Fleischacker. "A boat is not needed in most situations although it sure is a gamechanger."
"Work ethic is a prerequisite to work here as the expectations are very high. Since we operate privately and are an employee-owned company, all of our decisions are based on our own money," says Fleischacker. "We run a lean workforce... if something needs to get done, we never say ‘that’s someone else’s job'– if you need it done you figure it out."
There are a lot of different qualities to consider when purchasing a new rod and reel at SCHEELS. For Fleischacker, it's all about making the right investment. "When I first started fishing, I used whatever gifts I received or what I could afford after saving money," says Fleischacker. "Like most people just getting into it, I did not have the best quality gear.
Fishing and a love for the outdoors is something that SCHEELS Special Make-UpProduct Developer Ben Fleischacker has loved since his childhood. Fleischacker grew up in Nebraska, helping out in his grandfather's vet clinic, and together they enjoyed catfishing and bullhead fishing in the Little Blue. Fleischacker's obsession with fishing grew, and over the years he has fished in many different states, countries, and bodies of water.
Eventually, I made the leap and started buying higher-end rods and reels, and have not looked back since. The enjoyment I get from using quality gear is something that is hard to explain but quickly experienced." When it comes to fishing products and industry trends, SCHEELS is a very nimble company and their buying team is digging into the business on a daily basis. They strive to have the best products on the shelves, along with all of the hot brands and bait. From catfish to walleye to bass to fly fishing for trout, SCHEELS is actively chasing products to help support their customers’
passions. However, it's not just rods and reels that are important for a great fishing experience–there are some musthave fishing products to ensure you have not only a fun fishing experience, but a safe one as well. "Having a first-aid kit is a simple but universal answer," says Fleischacker. "It’s not a matter of if but when you will have to remove a hook out of your body!" Other must-haves include life jackets as well as multitools. "Multi-tools are something I like to always have on me or in my tackle box," says Fleischacker. "I can use pliers for removing hooks,
files to sharpen hooks, and the tools have come in handy when making quick repairs or tightening screws on equipment." As a SCHEELS fishing expert, Fleischacker wants customers to understand the importance of purchasing highquality fishing products beyond rods and reels. "Our fishing department teams are constantly on the water and can speak to what they personally use or what they wish they would have had to make their lives easier," says Fleischacker. "Typically when we sell something to our customers, there are always
complimentary ‘things and stuff’ that will give our customers another edge at being successful." For avid fishermen and women, Fleischacker believes shopping at SCHEELS offers a unique customer service experience you won't find elsewhere. "We have the brands, the assortment, and the experts to give our customers the best retail experience available today," says Fleischacker. "Our fishing teams are end-users, meaning they are actively fishing throughout the year. In addition, our internal training programs are second to none and we do everything
possible to ensure our employees know the ins and outs of new products and techniques." SCHEELS is all about passion, and for Fleischacker, passion means devotion, obsession, focus, determination, and sacrifice. "My passions in life are a combination of those five words," says Fleischacker. "I have a passion for conservation, but without devotion, obsession, focus, determination, and sacrifice, I will not move the needle in the right direction. Even with something like putting in a new fence, without a solid plan to make it straight and tight, it will look like garbage and continually worsen over the years. However, by giving it ‘passion’, the fence can be used for decades." For fishing enthusiasts reading this, Fleischacker has some fun memories as well as tips for you to have the best fishing experience possible! "Have some fun and seek out a mentor! My best fishing memories were always shared with another person," he says. "I will never forget when my grandpa caught a fivepound largemouth off of a beetle spin. It was the biggest bass he ever caught
and we were fishing a small farm pond. My fondest saltwater fishing memory was when I watched my dad catch a sailfish that put on a show for us with tail dancing and jumps. Pictures help remind me of those days, but I still have the memories etched in my mind." As far as fishing tips and advice, Fleischacker understands that fishing can be challenging at times, even for the best anglers. "There are plenty of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that have public access and plenty of fish in them. Panfish and bass are some of the easier fish to target when starting out due to their aggressive behavior for most of the year," he says. "Don’t overlook catfish as well. They can be great to eat and put up a good fight. Find out what your local public waters have for fish species and then do your research on how to catch that fish. Finding a mentor will expedite the learning curve, so do not be afraid to ask one of our SCHEELS Experts to help."
Your Farmland, in the Right Hands
The Legacy of 14
e have all heard the horror stories or know a family personally whose farm and family have been torn apart after the passing of a loved one due to poor or no planning. Don’t let this be you. The family legacy you want to leave is as unique as your farm operation. Planning is key for farm families looking to the future of how to successfully transfer ownership of their farm or ranch to the next generation. Jon Benson and Missy Zarak at Heartland Trust Company are here to help guide you with the process, provide knowledge, and listen to your needs every step of the way. Heartland Trust is the region’s oldest independent family-owned trust company, helping families for over 30 years by specializing in Trust, Wealth Management, and 401(k) plans. Not only does Heartland handle long-term management of farmland, they also provide options for individuals who have sold the farm and need assistance with reinvestment of the assets, planning for their retirement, incorporating ways to fulfill charitable gifts and much more. What makes a trust company like Heartland Trust special and different is that they have wideranging expertise, specializing in the management of stocks, bonds, cash, mutual funds, insurance policies, farmland, partnerships, LLCs, commercial
real-estate, conservatorships, trusts, and estates, all under one roof. “At Heartland Trust Company we have chosen to be a fiduciary for the benefit of the clients we serve,” says Jon Benson. “Clients experience security, peace of mind, and confidence knowing we are held to the highest legal and ethical standards, accept no commissions, and are independent with no propriety relationships so we can provide the very best services and solutions to meet the exceptions and needs of every client without compromise.” Jon Benson, who has been with Heartland for seven years and has over 30 years of comprehensive experience, cares for his client's needs and helps guide them through whatever challenges they may be facing. Benson, who is Heartland's VP, Trust Officer, and Certified Farm Succession Planner, walks families through all of the options they may have when looking at transitioning the family farm. "I help families understand all of their options so they can make the best decision for their family and the farm they worked so hard for," says Benson. "[My role] is ensuring they have peace of mind knowing their dreams and visions for the future are going to be fulfilled; our goal is always to keep the family, farm, and finances together.” Missy Zarak, who is also a Trust Officer at Heartland, has worked in the industry for over 30 years. Zarak's role is managing accounts and irrevocable trusts that have farmland in them. Heartland Trust works directly with individual
farmers or partners with a third-party farm manager to the assets, while she manages the trust– a collaborative effort to oversee the assets for the family. "Our role is to really understand what the family's needs are," says Zarak. “We work with the attorneys that they have already worked with and set up the planning, and then we help facilitate the management and the ongoing management of the land, either through a trust or for them individually in the future.” When you partner with an independent trust company like Heartland Trust, you know decisions are made locally, you are lessening the risk of family infighting over your estate, you know your assets will be managed in a prudent, professional manner, and you know your wishes and directives are followed according to the trust documents you created with your attorney. Heartland Trust also works with many people that may have moved away from the area. They may no longer live locally but still have roots through the family farm in Minnesota, North Dakota, or in the Red River Valley area. “For many of our clients, this is third and fourth generation farmland that they want to keep in the family. Our clients
have very important and complicated needs that require thoughtful planning,” says Benson. “From succession to estate planning, tax planning, the actual settlement of the estate, to the management of the family trusts. There is a need for accountability and transparency so that all parties involved are informed and educated on the process, ongoing efforts, and the impact to them personally.” Just like any other successful business owners, many farmers are well diversified with farmland, equipment, savings and investments, and even outside business ventures. “As a Trust Company, we're able to help them manage all of those assets underneath one umbrella,” says Benson. “There's nothing that we cannot do to help them manage and consolidate that asset management and reporting. This is not only beneficial for them but also for the next generation who may not have the experience or knowledge in all of the various aspects and assets in the trust and may need guidance moving forward. They are able to do all of that with one individual who is fully aware and responsible for what's going on holistically with all of your finances and assets.” One concern farmers and landowners may have is
Jon Benson and Missy Zarak whether or not the trust company will continue to keep the farmland in the trust after their passing, or will they sell it immediately and invest it in the stock market. “At Heartland, we honor and respect our client’s wishes and we will continue to keep the farmland and work with your attorneys to ensure the language in your document reflects and honors your wishes,” says Benson. Zarak’s advice for young readers is to have important conversations with family members to help shape the legacy of your farm/ ranch business. The earlier you can start to have clear, transparent conversations, the better chance your plan
will achieve future success. Once communicated, choose to work with a team of professionals who understand your goals, who can legally establish a succession plan, and those you can trust to administer the plan carrying out your wishes. The farm is an incredible legacy that can be passed on from generation to generation, profoundly impacting the lives of many to follow. Take the time to make a plan so your story can be passed on for years to come.
RANCHING IN REEDER:
BUILDING A LASTING LEGACY heridan grew up on a hobby farm in Texas, and after meeting Austin, she moved to Reeder to join him and pursue their passion in ranching cattle. The Visser's currently ranch about 160 head of production cattle, and 40 head of roping cattle, which consist of mostly Corriente cattle. For many farmers, ranching in rural areas can be a challenge for building connections, and staying involved in farming politics. For the Visser's, that's where North Dakota Farm Bureau is a major asset. "We became involved with North Dakota Farm Bureau on the county level about three years ago," says Sheridan. "It's been a great way to connect with people in our local area–it's a great way for farmers, ranchers, and producers to have a say in politics." One of the great things about North Dakota Farm Bureau is that members can present resolutions and discuss them at district and state meetings, and if said resolutions get voted in, they become a North Dakota Farm Bureau policy.
Texas-native Sheridan Visser and North Dakota-native Austin Visser are a young, happily-married cattle-ranching duo who settled in Reeder, North Dakota after Austin was given the opportunity to ranch on some leased land near Reeder, North Dakota.
"There's a lot of politics in the world, and you can complain about it all day– but if you aren't doing anything about it, your voice won't be heard," says Sheridan. "We really like North Dakota Farm Bureau because it gives you a voice and it helps represent our local area." Beyond politics, some of the additional benefits NDFB offers are great networking, as well as connecting farmers and ranchers all across the state. This enables farmers to learn about each other's operations and issues, and build a stronger farming community overall. "Everybody has something to offer," says Sheridan. "I think especially in our area, everyone's very neighborly; we help our neighbors out." To the Visser's, there's power in not just knowing people but sharing resources as well to help you and your neighbor's farms thrive, no matter what crops you grow or livestock you raise. In addition to NDFB, Sheridan is also a Crop Insurance Agent with Farm Credit Services
of Mandan. Farm Bureau and Farm Credit partner frequently on events, sponsorships, and work together to bring ag businesses, implement dealers, and other companies together. "I really appreciate how Farm Credit has given me the flexibility to be involved," says Sheridan. "They really promote and support volunteers and getting involved in the community– Farm Credit's been probably the best job anyone could ask for." To Austin, there's a personal pride and legacy in starting a ranch from the ground up and building something to pass on to the next generation. "I think the one thing we really get out of [ranching] is we both enjoy staying busy and working hard," says Austin. "It's very fulfilling when you can spend all night out checking cows, and you know that you made a difference saving something's life and giving it a chance to grow and do well in life."
© 2021 Bremer Financial Corporation. All rights reserved.
A Family to Farmers– on and off the Field
Bremer Bank has deep roots in the agricultural sphere. We sat down with Judd Graham to get a deeper look at how Bremer is investing both resources and expertise into agriculture as a whole. "It really goes back to the founding of Bremer Bank," says Judd. "Agriculture is just a huge part of our economy... it's so important to every community that we serve, and it's just in our core; It's who we are to be supporting our communities, which includes the agricultural community. So it's part of what we've always done, it's always been a part of our culture within our company. While many other financial institutions may tend to invest nationwide, Bremer's focus has been local, relying mainly on agriculture expertise. Judd attributes that to Bremer's philosophy of cultivating thriving communities. "The local agriculture is so important to every economy and community that we do business in," says Judd. "...And going back to [Founder] Otto Bremer, he believed that the banks exist to help people through both good times and bad, and that may speak to why some organizations are either pulling away or consolidating, whereas we're not– We're digging in locally and helping our farm customers during both good and bad times."
organization. In addition, Bremer is looking for outside talent that they can tap into and bring into their organization. "A lot of our ag banking team are experts in agriculture, and they're also very locally entrenched," says Judd. "In fact, a lot of our ag bankers are farmers themselves, so that's how we stay close to the industry." In addition to investing in their own organization, Bremer is continuing to invest in their own ag expertise, embracing the ag tech sphere as a whole. One of the things Bremer is doing is bringing ag tech ideas and opportunities to their customer relationships, which they believe sets them apart from other financial institutions. "We like to think that we're working elbowto-elbow with these people to help them be successful," says Judd. "Because as an organization, we're only as successful as our customers and our communities that we do business with. It's a big part of who we are; our culture [consists of] partnerships with our communities and with our customers."
To ensure that Bremer continues to be a leader in agriculture banking, they are continuing to invest in their people and talent within their
At Bremer, we recognize how agricultural producers have really dedicated their lives to their communities and the land they farm." 22
When it comes to trends in the agriculture tech sphere, Judd believes there are a few things farmers should keep under their radar, including carbon emissions and keeping things 'green'. "We're trying to look for those opportunities to help farmers be net negative on carbon and yet be very accessible," says Judd. "We're always looking for convenient ways to start looking at raising those kinds of issues, and just make sure everybody's aware of the coming trend." With trends as well as building a customer base, there's a certain level of rapport that goes into building that trust. Bremer believes they take some unique steps into building a foundation of support and trust that all farmers can utilize. "At Bremer, we recognize how agricultural producers have really dedicated their lives to their communities and the land they farm," says Judd. "We understand that these roles– it's not just a job– it's a way of life for them. As I said earlier, a lot of our ag banking team are farmers themselves; they certainly understand the business, as well as the positives and negatives of what farm and ranch customers might be going through– that helps set us apart."
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Nearby locations info: One of the aspects of Bremer that excites Judd the most is they are taking up a very localized delivery model, while also bringing in some of the new innovations, technologies, and ag-tech solutions to the relationships with their customers. "I believe that Bremer is on the leading edge of a lot of that technology and incorporating ag-tech, and we really embrace that," says Judd. "Yet, we're still doing that in a way that's being delivered through our local bankers in our local markets– that's really exciting for me." Many might consider agriculture as well as ag banking a high-stakes arena; there are so many variables that aren't in the control of the farmer, rancher, or even the financial institution. However, Bremer takes pride in their approach to narrowing that gap as much as possible. "The biggest thing we do to kind of help our customers through some of the more stressful aspects is we focus a lot of attention on just listening to them and hearing what they're going through," says Judd. "We are very connected to the industry; we have people within Bremer that that are running their own farms on the side or part of a family farming type operation, and they do understand and have real empathy for what a lot of our clients are going through. The biggest thing we do is that we spend a lot of time in training our bankers to be very good listeners."
11. Grand Forks
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1444 45th Street South, Fargo, North Dakota 58103 (701) 492-2600
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1618 Commerce Street, Wahpeton, North Dakota 58075 (701) 642-6403
225 5th Street North, Breckenridge, Minnesota 56520 (218) 643-8721
115 Holmes Street East, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota 56501 (218) 847-9292
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2330 College Way, Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56537 (218) 736-0110
622 Main Street, Lisbon, North Dakota 58054 (701) 683-5233
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201 North Broadway, Crookston, Minnesota 56716 (218) 281-4182
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Having an Auction:
Then vs. Now
Historically, the auction method of marketing was viewed as a last resort and used only when other methods of sale were unsuccessful. Today, it is quite the opposite. The single most significant difference in today’s world is asset management, which is the systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for over their whole life cycles. “The auction method is the greatest and the most ultimate expression of the American free enterprise system” says Scott Steffes, President, which is why the perception of having an auction has transformed over the years. We continue to see record breaking prices on farm machinery and farmland when having an auction is the first choice by farmers, dealership entities and landowners.
Farmers and Auctions
competitor for equipment dealerships, and now they are viewed as a marketing option for them. They look at auction companies as an extension of their sales force. For years, the auction method was In the past, there was a stigma that whatever the dealers did not want to sell, or could not sell, viewed as a last resort for farmers across they passed on to auction companies. Since more dealers now look at auction companies the world and resulted in a disfigurement as a viable marketing or remarketing option, there continues to be high quality, high dollar that auctions were only chosen in the result of items from dealerships selling at auction. This can be due to equipment of another color a foreclosure, bankruptcy, retirement, or death. than that of the dealer’s major supplier, or due to dealers setting limits for how long a Now, with the value of equipment and the costs trade-in sits on their lot. Auctions give dealerships a real time look at the cash market associated with idleness, it does not make sense to which can be used to base future trades. On one recent Steffes Group auction park machinery if it is not being used. Farmers have for an equipment dealership, a 2019 John Deere 9570RX with 1,075 hours sold recognized that markets are much more nimble now, and for $415,000, the highest auction sale price ever seen on a modern tractor they can take advantage of buying and selling through the according to Machinery Pete’s Auction Price Data. auction method of marketing which allows us to determine fair market value in a way that is virtually impossible through traditional methods of sale. Landowners and Auctions When farmers choose to have a farm retirement it can be an The auction process is a tried-and-true method of selling real estate. emotional time, but we are experiencing more and more that it’s Landowners have seen how the auction method has the ability to get becoming a celebration for the family. We are always reminded that top dollar, within a set timeframe, all while remaining in full control. it opens the opportunity for other farmers, both local and national, to Landowners have also recognized that there are more than just purchase their used equipment for fair market value to grow or maintain a few neighbors that want to buy farmland. Through digital their farms. marketing, advancements in technology, and the development of online bidding, the markets have become much larger and given potential buyers around the world a fair opportunity to Dealership Entities and Auctions participate. Additionally, people with roots in communities Today, many dealership entities incorporate auctions into their business plans. want to return and invest, even if they do not live there Dealers are viewing auctions as a way to proactively manage their used equipment. anymore. Up to a few years ago, auction companies were viewed as a last resort, or even a The team at Steffes Group respects and learns from the history of the auction method of marketing. We are excited about the future of the industry and the opportunities we have to grow alongside it.
A NEW WAY OF POSTING LAND
Longtime friends and Devils Lake, ND natives Levi Otis and Kyle Reierson formed QR Posts in the Fall of 2020. Seeing a communication barrier between Farmers, Landowners, and Hunters, they saw and understood the need for easier communication between the parties.
Having spent many years lobbying for private property rights in the legislature, Otis often saw the same problem repeating itself: the "Posting Bill"– problems arising between landowners and those wanting land access. Reierson, who had experience in web development and design, sat down with Otis to talk about these issues. "I told him about it and he said, 'We can fix this problem for them!'– and that's kind of how QR Posts started," says Otis. Legally, every state has a different requirement of what posting signs have to be, in terms of space Distance between signs, lettering, etc., which can bring a few challenges along the way. The state of North Dakota has an online posting application and can use QR Posts as the contact information, which makes the process as smooth and simple as possible.
With this approach, landowners won't actually have to post physical signs, but they can still use the QR Posts site to manage their farms. Using an innovative solution like QR Posts has many benefits, including building a channel of easier communication between landowners and hunters, or others wanting land access. "It's a nice way of communicating– a hunter scans the sign, and the landowner receives the request via text, or they can set up automatic replies," says Otis. "It's a pretty simple and easy way of managing requests for property access, so you know who is on it, when they are on it, and what field they are on; It's all about easy and effective communication". In addition to North Dakota, QR Posts offers its service to five other states, with plans of expanding to many more in the near future. "Our main goal is to help mend relationships between landowners and hunters by bridging the communication gap," says Otis. "Our families hunt and fish. We, like 99% of other outdoorsmen, respect private property rights, and that's why we wanted to create a formal process to help streamline communication between landowners and people wanting to access their land – that's ultimately the goal." One of the many perks of using QR Posts is their signs, which are North Dakota weather and fade-resistant. Additionally, the QR codes are maintenance-free and do not require any kind of renewal, so landowners do not have to worry about their codes expiring. QR Posts is also considering the rollout of a smartphone app to make the communication process even more efficient for both landowners and hunters.
To get signed up for QR Posts, head over to https://qrposts.com to register for an account!
What’s coming up: Emerging themes in ag innovation and ag banking 32
Ag innovation and ag banking are nuanced, ever-evolving worlds. As the ninth largest agriculture lender in the United States, Bremer Bank says it has gone “all in” on investing in agriculture. Marc Schober, director of specialized agriculture solutions at Bremer Bank, is leading the charge to ensure the bank is poised to help farmers and ag operations of all sizes prepare for an often-uncertain future. Having grown up on an 80acre farm in southeastern Wisconsin, surrounded by
rolling fields and the farmers and crops that filled them, it seemed inevitable that Marc would devote his career to agriculture. But it wasn’t just the exposure to agriculture that drew Marc so strongly to the industry. He was drawn to the authentic nature of it all, and admired the genuine, salt-of-the-earth disposition of the farmers and ranchers he knew. At Bremer, he identifies opportunities, services and solutions to better serve farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in new and better ways as an agriculture thought leader. Put otherwise, Marc helps ag bankers have the best, most updated toolkit possible so that their work with agriculture customers is high-quality, effective and efficient. Below are Marc’s four key takeaways of emerging
themes in these spaces that have the potential to change the way we navigate them – themes that he says Bremer will continue to be on the forefront of in the coming years. In Marc’s words:
Carbon credits and the new administration While Europe and Canada both have some form of a carbon market currently in place, the U.S. is still figuring out a path of its own. There are various forms this could take, particularly at the intersection of carbon credits and agriculture, that make a carbon market in the U.S. a very real possibility. Opportunities for farmers and growers to capture additional yearly revenue by providing carbon sequestration data throughout their growing seasons are not far off. For example, Land O’Lakes recently launched a similar program in partnership with Microsoft that financially reimburses farmers for their carbon.
This is a promising example of the directions we should continue to explore. The biggest challenges include finding a quantifiable way to demonstrate the amount of “locked up” carbon below the surface, and understanding that different farming regions across the country will need tailored solutions that accommodate each unique climate and growing season. There is also a lot of exciting, cuttingedge technology happening behind the scenes. Certain forms of soil testing and drone imagery can now link up to farm management software that calculates a farm’s estimated carbon emissions through a specialized algorithm. Ten years ago, most farmers in the U.S. were net carbon producers. Now, with new technology and more efficient field machinery, goals center around getting farmers to be net negative on carbon. It is amazing to look back on how far we have come in such a short time. Carbon credits in agriculture is a space in need of more industry definition, but there are a lot of great opportunities to do so in the future. Bremer Bank is committed to continuing to explore options in this area
that help farmers net negative on carbon in an accessible, convenient way.
Incentivizing green programs It is forecast under the Biden administration that there will be a new green incentive program created through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) soon. This will be one of, if not the largest, pushes towards green program incentivization in history. As the USDA develops and rolls out new green programming, it is absolutely the job of an ag banker to be aware of these new opportunities and understand how they may fit into a farmer or rancher’s operations. Bremer’s agricultural banking team makes it a point to be consistently up to date on new green farming programming to ensure we are equipped to help farmers and operators understand what options are available and most conducive to their operation’s success.
Ag tech solutions feeding a realtime financial picture One trend we are seeing our most adaptable farmers tap into has been ag tech – specifically, ag tech that can deliver realtime financials so farmers know exactly what their critical break-even costs are every single day. This technology has been groundbreaking in maximizing farmer/rancher efficiency and ensuring no time or resource goes to waste. It has the capacity to layer in the cost of producing a crop or commodity and to reflect real-time sales data for the item.
© 2021 Bremer Financial Corporation. All rights reserved.
The result is an accurate portrayal of the market that considers the unique financial picture of each producer. The break-even number helps farmers make informed financial decisions, making it easier and faster to intelligently adapt when unanticipated challenges crop up – like a pest infestation.
There is great interest in this type of financial ag tech, even in its current early state. While there are already a handful of talented frontrunners in this space, every day we are seeing new innovations pop up. The most exciting part? This impressive technology is being created by people with hands-on agriculture experience who know what producers need to continue building their thriving farms. Ag tech is the future. It is also a great way for farmers to save money and rest easy when making quick and unexpected financial decisions – the perfect pairing with our team of ag experts at Bremer Bank, who work with agriculture customers every day in making positive, intentional investments in their futures.
Marc Schober Ag tech and banks: How they are partnering for the future One of my responsibilities at Bremer Bank is to immerse myself in anything new that has to do with agriculture. New trends often overlap with innovation and future ag tech solutions. If these innovative, tech-based solutions can increase farmer-customer profitability while decreasing their bank risk, our agriculture team is interested in it. The exciting part is that there are a lot of amazing solutions out there. From farm and livestock management software to data collection and crop insurance solutions, there
is no shortage of fresh, cuttingedge problem-solving going on in the agriculture banking world. While regional banks like Bremer can continue to support their agriculture customers on a case-by-case basis in finding personalized solutions to individual financial questions, I do see future opportunities for banks to partner with companies on real-time financial software to help roll out their operationschanging technology to more customers. This would make it possible for more farmers/ ranchers to access valuable tools, become more familiar with their micro-level financials, and implement real-time solutions to ensure their operations can truly flourish.
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The Cultivate Conference, hosted by Grand Farm, is set to take place on July 15 and is an important event for agriculture in our area. As we look to feed a growing population, collaboration becomes ever more important. We must continue to push innovation between tech and agriculture. This conference will do just that by featuring topics such as software applications, precision agriculture drones, alternative farming methods and more. This year's event features a number of impressive speakers and groundbreaking innovations. Attendees will be treated to short talks, breakout sessions and a farmer's panel focusing on emerging technologies in agriculture. As a magazine, we want to provide a sneak peek for those that cannot attend as well as supplementary information for those who will be at the conference. With that said, meet a number of the speakers who will be at this important conference. If you are interested in attending, visit grandfarm.com/cultivate-conference/ *Not all of the event speakers could be featured in this magazine.
By Brady Drake
Doug Burgum Governor of North Dakota
Doug Burgum is an entrepreneur and the 33rd governor of the state of North Dakota. Recently, Burgum announced a goal for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography
What role can growers play in achieving carbon neutrality? We are incredibly blessed in North Dakota to have such rich natural resources, from our productive soil to our extensive lignite and oil and gas reserves, and some of the best geology in the world for permanent sequestration of CO2. This is a great opportunity to leverage one of the world’s challenges for the benefit of our entire state as well as the nation and world. We already know that in North Dakota we enjoy some of the cleanest air and water in the nation, because no one cares more about our environment than the people who live here. We also know that, while carbon is a key building block of life, we are living in an increasingly carbon-constrained world. That’s why I issued the aspirational challenge earlier this year at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference for North Dakota as a state to become carbon-neutral by the end of the decade. This isn’t another government initiative, and it isn’t like what the other states are doing. This challenge includes no mandates, no regulations, and no pressure for any individual company or producer to change to what we are already doing. Rather, it sends a clear message to the federal government and other states that North Dakota can reach the end goal faster with innovation and free markets and without the heavy hand of government mandates and regulation. With practices already being used in North Dakota such as cover cropping, rotational grazing and no-till, we are already capturing more carbon and putting it to beneficial use. Aiming for carbon neutrality is an opportunity for growers who choose to benefit from these existing practices to develop another revenue stream based on the increasing demand for carbon offsets and the markets that will be created to serve this demand.
Why should growers skeptical of changing their practices in a market with
already tight margins care about carbon neutrality? Again, this aspirational challenge comes with no rules or regulations for any grower to change current practices, but rather an opportunity to capitalize on best management practices. The carbon offset market is willing to pay for credits for farmers and ranchers to do what they’ve been doing in North Dakota for a long time, and this could be an additional source of land-based revenue. Together with the massive underground storage capacity that is part of our state’s geologic jackpot, we can continue to be a national leader in energy and agricultural production in an environmentally friendly and economically beneficial way – through innovation over regulation. Ultimately, these types of best management practices also improve margins. We heard from one producer in the central part of the state who farms on marginal land and was able to increase his yield from 20 bushels per acre to now being consistently above 50 bushels per acre. We also heard from a rancher in the western part of the state who through grazing practices was not only able to access a $20-per-acre carbon credit, but also increased his livestock yields without an increase in the size of his herd.
What will you be speaking about at the Cultivate conference? North Dakota is a land of abundant resources and unlimited potential. And our future economic success hinges in part on finding additional value-added opportunities as well as synergies between our top two industries, agriculture and energy. From ethanol, green diesel, hydrogen, nitrogen and propane production to large-scale greenhouses with CO2-enriched environments, we want to highlight these market-driven opportunities and inspire innovation and entrepreneurship as the path forward for our great state. Our farmers and ranchers are the best in the world and can compete with anyone, anywhere, anytime if they’re given a level playing field, a common-sense regulatory environment and a policy framework that fosters innovation.
More generally, why is carbon neutrality important?
years’ worth of our annual carbon output related to energy production, or over 4,000 years of storage for what we produce statewide.
To grow and diversify North Dakota’s economy, we must be able to attract capital to our state. And currently, so-called ESG principles – short for Environmental, Social and Governance – are being used on Wall Street to both guide and restrict investment decisions.
In addition to those impressive numbers, we also could use CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Up to 8 billion additional barrels of oil can be produced in North Dakota while sequestering up to 4 tons of CO2 per barrel of oil produced. Given that we would need to import 10 times the amount of CO2 we currently produce to reach EOR’s full potential, it’s easy to see why we are so bullish on the carbon opportunity in North Dakota.
Funds that use ESG principles captured over $51 billion of net new money from investors in 2020, setting a record for the fifth straight year, according to a recent CNBC report citing the Morningstar research firm. BlackRock’s head of iShares Americas predicts that by 2030, ESG investing could become a $1 trillion category. If we’re to continue growing our economy, we need to be able to tap into that capital. Fortunately, we are situated better than just about any state in the country when it comes to our capacity to capture, utilize and store carbon. In addition to continuing our tradition of solid environmental stewardship, this presents huge economic opportunities, and increased economic activity benefits all North Dakotans through job creation, demand for goods and services, and tax revenue to support essential government services.
If a farmer wanted to take action towards the 2030 goal right now, what could they do? Continue the great work they are already doing and don’t be afraid to tell that story. We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the market demands shifting toward a carbonconstrained future. Take, for example, the huge opportunity for our corn and soybean growers who can sell their commodities to ethanol and biodiesel plants. By implementing best practices, they can receive a premium for their crop, which then is developed right here in North Dakota into an ethanol or renewable diesel product that can be sold into a lucrative, low-carbon market.
What role will Project Tundra play in all of this? Our lignite industry has been providing us with reliable baseload power for decades. Through innovation, they have already virtually eliminated concerns with nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, and the next logical step is Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS). Thanks to the tremendous work by the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) in Grand Forks, we now know that the geology in coal country is even more promising for storage potential than previously believed. Statewide, we have an estimated storage capacity for 252 billion tons of carbon. To put that in perspective, that’s enough room to store over 8,000
Is there anything coming from the state that growers should know about or be prepared for? Opportunity is once again the main theme. Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and I have been advocating a policy of innovation over regulation since the first days of our administration. We know that producers have had to overcome major uncertainty regarding regulation, especially as the political pendulum swings. In North Dakota, we strive to provide a stable tax and regulatory environment, and we regularly remind officials in Washington, D.C., that the states created the federal government, not the other way around. Through opportunities such as CCUS, we hope to inherently improve the ESG scores for every company doing business in North Dakota, and to make our state a leader in attracting capital investment. We have opportunities to create markets for our CO2 right here in our state. Greenhouses are a great example: If we could capture and use our CO2 in greenhouses to grow crops year-round, we could grow crops not typically produced in North Dakota, such as blueberries and avocados. And we could help solve issues with food deserts and reduce costs for rural grocers.
Is there anything that you won't speak about at the conference that you want to say to growers reading this magazine? Theodore Roosevelt once said that conservation means development as much as it means preservation. We know that the prairie ecosystems evolved and soil health flourished under bison grazing, and the same systems are healthier today with livestock grazing. And we know that without our abundant lignite, oil and natural gas resources, our standard of living would not be possible. The carbon neutral goal sends a strong message that no one holds a monopoly on the path toward a healthy environment. No one cares more about our land and air than the farmers and ranchers who live and do business here in North Dakota. We have a great story to tell, and we can leverage economic opportunity and flip the carbon narrative while continuing to lead the nation in agriculture and energy production.
President of SB&B Foods, LLC Robert (Bob) Sinner has spent his entire life in North Dakota. After graduating from North Dakota State University with a degree in Agriculture Economics, Bob joined the family farming operation. Before SB&B actively pursued an expansion into international business, Bob served on the Executive Committee of the United Soybean Board and Chairman of the International Promotion Committee. In 1989, the Company expanded by Photo provided by SB&B Foods, LLC creating an international business to supply food quality soybeans and later other food grade commodities directly to food manufacturers globally. Bob serves as President of both SB&B Foods, LLC, the Company marketing entity and Identity Ag Processing, the state-ofthe-art processing company with two locations. In 2007, SB&B Foods, Inc. was recognized and awarded the North Dakota Exporter of the Yea awardr. In 2009, SB&B Companies were also presented with the North Dakota Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Bob currently serves as President of SSGA (Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance), a national association of identity-preserved agriculture food ingredient suppliers and was recently appointed by U.S. Ag Secretary, Sonny Perdue to serve on the Federal Grain Inspection Advisory Committee. He has been, and remains, active in a variety of civic, state, regional and national organizations, including the North Dakota Trade Office Board of Directors and the National Agriculture Transportation Coalition Advisory Board. His three sons are involved in the company business.
What will you be presenting on at Cultivate? Identity preservation.
Why is your message applicable to growers? My message offers growers the opportunity to capture increased value for production and a chance to get closer to the food chain.
If there's one thing you'd like to say to growers that you won't in your presentation, what would it be? You should consider value-added opportunities for your farm operation.
Why participate in the Cultivate conference? Cultivate offers the chance to learn about new and exciting opportunities for farmers to be involved in.
What most excites you about the ag space right now? The new and advancing technology in precision agriculture and the trends toward increased transparency and direct opportunities with both the food manufacturer and the consumer.
How can tech and farmers better work together? Engage with farmers, listen to farmers and make farmers part of the solution.
Anything else we should know or that you would like to say? Food Companies are asking for and want/ need to work more directly with farmers.
Sinner will be a keynote speaker at the event. FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
Co-Founder and CEO of TeleSense
In 2014, Naeem Zafar founded TeleSense, an Internet of Things company that helps to reduce spoilage in the post-harvest grain industry by implementing the use of wireless sensors for temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide monitoring. Before founding TeleSense, Zafar previously spent time as a CEO of five high-tech businesses. He has worked on teams responsible for internationally used products including the fingerprint sensor chips we use in our phones today. In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Zafar is a professor at the University of California Berkeley. He is also the author of five books. Photo provided by TeleSense
If you can save 10% grain, you can make an impact on every farmer's bottom line.
In addition to talking about TeleSense, what do you plan on speaking about at the conference? Some industries have been touched by technology and software in a big way and some have not. In things like E-Commerce and retail, there has been a big infusion with technology and in agriculture, not so much. There are some things that are being done with robotics and automation, but there is a lot more that can be done with data and analytics to provide insights. I will highlight what is happening in each phase and what will be going on over the next ten years from a technology perspective.
Is this your first venture into the ag space? Yes, but this is my seventh company.
How did you get into the ag industry? As most things in life, it happened on accident. When I started this company, I knew the Internet of Things was going to be a big deal. However, we needed to find the right use case. We tried a bunch of different use cases including seafood monitoring for FSMA compliance, machine monitoring for maintenance and dangerous gases in tunnels.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS? The Internet of Things is the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
I ended up meeting the head of a large company in Australia at an accelerator and I showed them our product. They asked if it could work with grain, and being the entrepreneur that I am, I said, 'of course.' They didn't believe me, so I went to Australia to show them.
Why when you could retire financially, do you keep going?
Did you know the sensor would work in the grain bin?
When you get to my age, you look back at what you've extracted from the world and what you have given back. I want to leave a legacy and create something that remains useful after I am dead. I think what we are doing now can have that type of impact and that is meaningful to me.
Well, I figured, how hard could it be? The device is transmitting wirelessly. It doesn't know wether it's sitting in a grain bin or a tunnel. There were issues that came up, but I'm an electrical engineer. So, we made changes to adjust. That's what entrepreneurs do.
Also, what am I going to do every day, if I retire? This is something fun and something useful to do.
What do you hope the people attending your speech gain? I want them to realize, first off, that they don't need to be afraid of all of this technology. They don't have to apply technology to everything. But there are probably one or two ideas or processes that can be adopted to help them. Second, I want them to see some examples of people have already benefitted from agriculture.
Why do you think adoption has been slow in the ag space? I think growers are very strong and willed and independent thinkers. They don't have a boss. They make their own decisions and they tinker. You can't come in and mandate something to them-they have to see results.
Why are you interested in listening to some of the other speeches at Cultivate? I'll be interested in everything. What an entrepreneur does is absorb knowledge. A lot of informal conversations give you new insights.
What's your favorite part about entrepreneurship? Solving a problem that impacts peoples lives by improving their financial outcome. Margins in agriculture are very slim. If we can double those margins, that will make a very big impact.
Are there any other messages you want to get out to growers? Yes, don't be afraid to experiment with technology. You experiment with seeds and all sorts of other things. Why not technology? It could be tremendously helpful.
What tips do you have for other CEOs? Every new business is developed to solve a problem. So, you want to be able to articulate an unmet need and who has a problem. If you are able to segment who needs you more, you can really sharpen your focus.
Is there anything else you want to say? We are a triple bottom-line company. We are working to make a social and environmental.
Chris Tolles Co-Founder and CEO of Yard Stick PBC
Chris Tolles, Co-Founder and CEO of Yard Stick PBC, is a Bostonbased entrepreneur focused on the commercialization of university research science. His most recent company, Sundaily, was an ingestible sun protection product developed alongside a cofounding Harvard Medical School dermatology researcher and was acquired by Grove Collaborative in June 2020. Prior to Sundaily, Chris worked with HBS Professor Clay Christensen, creator of the theory of disruptive innovation, at Clay’s firm Innosight, focused on Photo provided by Yard Stick PBC entrepreneurial innovation efforts at large corporate clients. Chris previously led a product for One Earth Designs, a Hong Kong-based solar technology startup. He holds an MBA from Boston University and a BFA in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In Fall 2020 Yard Stick was part of a team awarded a $3.6M grant by ARPA-E to commercialize their spectral soil carbon measurement technology.
Why is your message applicable to growers? Growers around the world are interested in the climate impact and income potential of so-called "carbon farming." Measurement of these carbon removal claims remains a significant bottleneck, and it's overcoming this measurement challenge which is squarely Yard Stick's mission.
What will you be presenting on at Cultivate? I will be presenting on Yard Stick's soil carbon measurement technology and how it enables agricultural carbon removal at scale.
Cale Neshem North Dakota Grower
Cale Neshem has been in the ag industry professionally for six years now, but has really been in the ag industry his whole life since he grew up on a farm operation. Neshem has worked in a few different facets of the agriculture industry. He is the owner and operator of his own grain farm and, in the winter, he works as an ag specialist. Neshem holds a degree from Bismarck State College in Farm and Ranch Management and also serves on the NDGGA board, Ward County Crop Improvement Association and the Ward County Weed board. Neshem will be participating in the Grower Panel which will discuss what growers want the ag industry to know.
Photo provided by Cale Neshem 46
What are some points you are hoping to get across during your participation in the panel? 1. We have a tremendous amount of data and information that we are now collecting. We really need to extract that value now and also refine and improve that data by taking care of it properly. Our data can be worth as little or as much as we make of it. Organizing and keeping the data clean even if it's not being used is still worth our time. 2. Variable rate application can also be as simple or as complicated as we want to make it. It's all about finding what works best for some fields, particular growers, or yourself if you are doing it for you. There is a percentage of dryland acres that perform very similar on a percentage of yield basis no matter what crop is planted there due to the soil and those are the easiest to figure out. 3. At the end of the day, yield is what pays the bills. We can't leave uncaptured bushels out in the field on any year and variable rating is a way we can make sure we maximize every square inch out in our fields while maintaining our lowest cost per bushel.
What are some things that agtech needs to know in order to better work with growers? 1. We still don't have the perfect software for keeping all of our field data orderly that doesn't take a large time commitment if a grower wants to do it themselves.
2. The farmer will always know more about a field than what our data will show us. Data doesn't always tell the whole story of what happened in a field, sometimes a seeding mistake, large storm, or some other mechanical issue can occur that will not be able to be known without talking to the farmer who knows the field very well. 3. There is no one size fits all solution that works to make variable rate maps for dryland farming. It takes years of data before you can really make correlations and make decisions with it. Thats why, even if we aren't using our data, we need to be keeping it organized for future reference and use. We only get one chance a year. 4. There are issues with soybean yield data more often than not that usually makes the yield maps unusable. I'm not sure what the answer is to fix that but it is a very common issue on all makes of combines.
What do you see as some the biggest issues facing growers? 1. I think in the future regulations could become an issue in many aspects of agriculture as climate change is a hot topic and farming seems to be a target right now. 2. Finding ways to control the costs of production. 3. Adapting to new technology. 4. The price of land for expansion as well as taxes.
What do you see as some of the solutions to those problems? We as growers, and the ag industry in general, really need to step up and show just how efficient and effective agriculture really is and
how far we have come already compared to 50 years ago. The technologies and leaps we have made have been tremendous and there's still room for us to get better, the farmer wants to do what is best for the soil and environment so that he can keep farming and being productive. It's a common goal for everyone to improve their land and leave it better than the year before. We have great grain prices right now and this should lead many to profitability this year but we can't depend on these kinds of prices for forever and we know that input costs tend to go down slower than the price of grain! The pandemic has put many suppliers in spots that are leading to shortages in everything from ag parts to normal use items, this will be felt for longer than just this year, I believe. The technology is really fantastic these days, but too often growers pay for unlocks on monitors and don't maximize that payback. Any high dollar application of more than $15-$20 per acre should likely be variable rated, but having a good agronomist with the ability to write prescriptions for growers that they trust will be the way a lot of technology gets adopted and trusted. Its either that or the grower has to educate himself on a software that can make prescriptions and use his knowledge to make them. I'm not sure I can come up with a solution to the price of land and potential taxes being talked about for farms/estates right now other than we need to be aware of what's happening at Capitol Hill. It is potentially shaping up to be a difficult situation for family farms and with the price of land being so high, beginning farmers as well. We are going to really have to sharpen the pencil if some of these taxes come to fruition and high land prices stay.
William Aderholdt Program Manager of Grand Farm
What is the importance of events like Cultivate? Cultivate is an opportunity to bring the agriculture technology industry from around the world together with growers. This highlights the real experiences of growers, and how technology can be used as a solution in modern-day operations. This provides an energizing environment to think big about how AgTech can add value today.
What are you hoping is accomplished at the conference? Connecting the AgTech industry with growers. This event will highlight major themes in agriculture, including traceability and carbon sequestration.
What will you be presenting on? I am going to be presenting on the work happening on the Grand Farm in the 2021 growing season. With hundreds of projects across over 40 partners, the Grand Farm is continuing to build momentum through collaborative opportunities for engagement and accelerating advancements in AgTech.
Why do you think your message is important to growers? It highlights the role growers can play in the cycle of innovation. By providing a look into their experiences, they drive solution development. Growers also play an important role in providing feedback to entrepreneurs.
What do you see as some of the biggest issues currently facing growers?
William Aderholdt is the Grand Farm's Program Manager and is helping to lead the way in their agtech efforts. Aderholdt will be a keynote speaker at the event. Photo provided by Grand Farm
There is a multitude of solutions emerging in AgTech; however, this has created a new challenge of data saturation. Growers are flooded with information about their operation, and it is often in a raw format. This makes it more work for the grower to engage in modern technology.
What do you see as some of the solutions to those problems? AgTech solutions that look at how they can integrate with the data supply chain rather than stand alone. FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
Agriculture Supply Lead of Nori Rebekah Carlson will be speaking at the Cultivate conference on the company she works for, Nori, a carbon removal marketplace. In the marketplace, Nori credits with Nori Removal Tonnes (NRTs) and make them available for purchase by companies and individuals. One NRT represents one metric ton (tonne) of carbon removed from the atmosphere and retained in a reservoir. While Nori is carbon removal agnostic, their first methodology is focused on storing carbon in agricultural soils. Nori issues NRTs to producers in the US who have adopted regenerative practices since 2010 that result in incremental carbon storage in the soil. To estimate the amount of carbon removed and retained in the soil, Nori collects agronomic data from growers to run through Soil Metrics, their carbon quantification tool, which combines these data with soil and weather patterns to estimate increases in soil organic carbon (SOC) as a result of the regenerative practice. Once the data is in and Soil Metrics has run its models, Nori estimates how many NRTs a producer is issued based on their new practices. The project then goes through verification, a third-party audit ensuring the agronomic practices used to run the models did, in fact, take place. Additionally, if the grower is not the landowner, they will need to demonstrate to the verifier that they have authority from the landowner to participate in our marketplace.
After verification passes, the producer signs an NRT agreement, which commits a producer to maintaining the carbon in the soil for 10 years, updating project data for 10 years, verifying the project at least every three years, and choosing their own price for their NRTs. The NRTs are then listed on our marketplace in a First in First out (FiFo) queue, to be purchased by individuals and companies offsetting their emissions.
Photo provided by Nori 50
How can farmers partner with Nori? Farmers can partner with us by going to our website, clicking on the “enrollment button” and filling out a form. This form helps us understand their qualifications for the Nori Pilot. We will then personally connect the farmer with our Nori Data Managers, a trusted group of partners who have been trained in the Nori enrollment process to onboard growers into the Nori Marketplace.
Why is carbon removal important? Carbon removal is important both on a global and on a local scale, particularly for farmers. I’ll start with globally. We currently have too much carbon in the wrong place: the atmosphere. There are a slew of consequences from having the carbon here and we need a strategy to not only emit less CO2, but remove the excess CO2 to maintain healthy ecosystems across the globe, including the Midwest. Carbon removal plays a role in this by taking additional carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it in a place that is helpful, ecologically speaking, and not harmful. From a local scale, farmers are removing carbon everyday through the crops they plant. By quantifying this carbon and creating an asset out of it, carbon removal provides an additional source of income to the farming community, which is plagued by volatile weather and many tight margins. By adopting practices that put carbon back in the land, this removal provides resilience to both the pocketbooks and the soil of a grower.
What does carbon removal look like with Nori? Our first and current methodology of carbon removal at Nori is through the incremental drawdown of carbon stored in US croplands’ soils based on recently adopted regenerative agricultural practices. We have assurance through our NRT agreement that this carbon removal will remain in the soil for a minimum of 10 years.
Is the process of Carbon capture disruptive in any way to a farmer's day-to-day processes? Yes. Adding in any new change or way of thought to a fairly engineered agricultural process is going to be a bit disruptive. As we pioneer our way through introducing carbon removals as a
valuable commodity to growers, we kind of want to rock the boat a bit. But the extent of the disruption depends on the producer. For producers who have recently adopted regenerative practices, the disruption is small. They continue stewarding the land well and the disruption comes in the form of data management and data entry into our carbon quantification tool. Yet for producers who are going to adopt regenerative practices, carbon removal is quite disruptive. Changing practices takes gumption and is very farm dependent. The process of determining what to plant, when to plant, how to account for weather, machines breaking down, using new equipment, among many other decisions is very specific to any given field. While these changes take time, mistakes, and capital, Nori wants each producer to make the best decisions for what makes sense for their land when switching over to regenerative practices. We know it is a risk, but we hope that carbon markets provide an economic incentive to help ease the transition through these changes.
How does Nori utilize the blockchain? Nori utilizes the blockchain in a couple different ways. For one, all of the NRTs that we issue are listed on the blockchain, meaning they are a traceable asset with full transparency behind to whom the NRTs are issued and who is buying them. This accountability provides assurance that NRTs listed in the Nori Marketplace can never be double counted. The second manner in which Nori uses the blockchain is through the soon-to-be-minted NORI, a digital token representing one NRT. After we are through the pilot phase of the Nori Croplands Methodology, NRTs will be traded through NORI. By doing this, we are assuring true price discovery of the NRT, giving producers the ability to play the market a bit by holding on to their digital commodity (NORI) to sell their NRTs if they think the price will jump, and it also allows Nori to create a carbon market that scales. Also, we understand that cryptocurrency may be a bit too techie for some in already new territory, and we are investigating the option for growers to be paid directly in cash, and bypass the token aspect entirely.
What are some challenges that Nori faces? Oh, there are plenty. Striking the balance between a young field of science of carbon storage in soil, meeting buyers’ requests, and building a product suitable for our producers comes with a whole host of… challenges. Opportunities, one may say. A major challenge we encounter almost every day is dealing with unrealistic expectations. With a lot of hype around carbon right now, it is a bit
of the wild west when it comes to how much carbon soil can store, what are appropriate tools for measuring carbon, how long the process should take, what the price should be, and the list goes on and on. At Nori, we want to work conservatively and accurately with the tools we have, which are calibrated and validated by the soil sampling in the scientific community to build a marketplace fueled by science and serving our customers (both suppliers and buyers) well. So when the hype settles down, we can still move forward.
What would you tell a grower that might be skeptical of working with Nori? Nori is a marketplace designed in a farmer-facing manner— we do not mandate practices, do not place covenants on the property— we issue NRTs based on the carbon sequestered due to a new practice a grower chooses to adopt. But, as this is a new phase of agriculture, there should be skepticism. If you are skeptical, my best advice is just to wait and see. Poke around at the different options, keep an eye on what is working, what isn’t, and just keep managing your farm well. I believe that carbon markets are not just a cool new trend, but are here to stay, so if the market suits you better after it is more established, that may be the best decision for your operation. We’re not here to pressure. But, for those who want to jump on board, now is the time. It is new and exciting and, in these early stages, there are many opportunities and benefits in place that will not be there in an established market.
What are you hoping to highlight during your participation in the panel? I hope to paint a realistic picture of where Nori, and carbon markets, stand. Many folks are looking for a perfect silver bullet, and tools that match the wonderfully innovative practices that many farmers have implemented. But our tools are simple compared to agronomic norms and the markets are young. While we are starting somewhere, though simple, there is plenty of exciting room to define and create the processes we need to scale carbon markets to suit all farmers.
Is there anything else you want to say to growers? There are many options for carbon markets right now. Look into the data requirements, contracts, data ownership, lift of entry and see what works best for your operation. If all carbon opportunities scale, I believe we all win. The main goal is about changing the landscape of agriculture in a way that stewards the environment, the longevity of the land and the financial well being of a farmer. So if we have many approaches to making that happen… rock on.
Founder of Soiltech Wireless
What will you be presenting on at Cultivate? The Soiltech wireless solution.
Why is your message applicable to growers? Because we deliver high-value, actionable data at a cost-effective price point that is simple to deploy. We make technology accessible for all growers to help them drive yields, reduce inputs and farm sustainably.
If there's one thing you'd like to say to growers that you won't in your presentation, what would it be? If we were not able to emphasize it during the presentation, we would like growers to know that our product delivers high value for dry land farms - such as automated growing degree day calculations, humidity sensing under canopy to give early indications of disease as well as when to apply chemicals and a high-level overview of complete operations no matter how spread out.
Why participate in the Cultivate conference? The opportunity to connect directly with world-class growers and share with them our solution and how it might benefit their operations.
Ehsan Soltan is the founder and CEO of Soiltech Wireless, an Idaho-based start-up, which delivers next-generation ag-tech solutions designed to drive yields, reduce inputs and generate meaningful data. He will be pitching his company to attendees of the conference. Originally from the United Kingdom, Ehsan used his background in manufacturing to develop the Soiltech sensor in collaboration with some of Idaho’s largest growers and crop consultants. Prior to founding Soiltech Wireless, Ehsan spent a decade in Taiwan where he developed high-tech products for global customers, with a focus on telecommunications and Internet of Things devices.
What most excites you about the ag space right now? How the general public is beginning to care more about where their produce comes from and, as a result, are gaining a better understanding of the challenges of farming.
How can tech and farmers better work together? Tech needs to listen more closely to the pain points and needs of growers. Tech must evolve to suit growers and not the other way around.
Photo provided by Soiltech Wireless FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
Director of Sustainability at Bushel
Allison Nepveux is the Director of Sustainability at Bushel a company based right out of Fargo, North Dakota that is working "to transform how the ag industry connects with their producers in an increasingly digital world." She is also the Co-Host of the conference. Photo provided by Bushel
What is the importance of events like Cultivate? Something that I personally really missed over the past year was the organic conversations that happen at events. So much of what is required to truly move the needle in agriculture can't be accomplished by one company or concept alone. It is the coming together of ideas, theories, technologies, and experiences. Those can be jump started through panel discussions and hallway conversations. I'm energized by the opportunity for more of those connections and the idea generation that springs up from that.
uncertainty about how the market will reward sustainability - but it will reward sustainability in some form. We know this. We see this coming. I think it's important for farmers to arm themselves with data about their operations. Start keeping a digital record of your practices. Upload your field boundaries. Do the work to get your current state of operations into an FMS (ANY FMS!) - it will give you the power to act quickly and knowledgeably down the road.
Why do you think your message is important to growers?
What are you hoping is accomplished at the conference?
Most farmers that I know don't record their practices online. It makes it a heavier lift (and a slower process) for creating the baseline that will eventually help them get paid.
There is so much opportunity right now in how technology can support the sustainable efforts throughout the agricultural supply chain. The more we can all come together and bring our best ideas, it’s going to help everyone.
What do you see as some of the biggest issues currently facing growers?
How does Bushel work towards sustainability? Right now, our primary focus is centered around helping our customers answer this question. We know that consumers are demanding more sustainable products and our aim is to enable the technologies that grain facilities are using to answer that call to action.
What is the importance of that? Agriculture has a powerful role to play in the sustainability story. What we've struggled with in the past is the ability to quantify and verify that sustainability story in a way that doesn't overly burden farmers. I think we're at a real inflection point of change. We're now seeing money and incentives line up behind the farming community. Our belief is that this space is becoming more win-win-win: if farmers are winning - so can the local facility, so can the downstream customer.
This is something I'm hoping to hear more from growers themselves.
What do you see as some of the solutions to those problems? One thing I am really excited about is the potential to connect links in the supply chain. So much of what has previously existed in our industry were silos of data. This disconnected and disjointed approach to data ultimately inhibited the entire value chain's ability to minimize risk in the system. I think we are on the cusp of creating an infrastructure that rewards and empowers players along the entire system. And, I think sustainability and carbon are two of the first places where we'll see that come to life.
What message do you want to get across to growers? We want to empower growers to take advantage of the opportunities in the market when they arise. There's still a lot of
CEO/Co-Founder of Genesis Feed Technologies
Why is your message applicable to growers? We have a deep understanding of the economic value of the crops grown in this area as they are used in the export destinations served. The more growers can understand this value the better they are in a position to increase their profitability.
If there's one thing you'd like to say to growers that you won't in your presentation, what would it be? Be actively involved in your regional commodity marketing groups like the ND Soybean Council and ND Corn Growers. These groups, and others like them, make a tremendous impact on the market value for your crops as well as lobbying for changes that directly benefit your operation.
Why participate in the Cultivate conference? It's a unique event that brings the best and brightest together from the industry. Learn about coming technology trends and make your voice heard to help shape the companies and technology working to serve the industry.
Peter is the Co-Founder and CEO of Genesis Feed Technologies (GFT). The software platform helps ingredient buyers make informed and profit-driven purchasing decisions, and has a global footprint in 50+ countries. With over 10 years of experience implementing business solutions in North America, Peter is no stranger to the feed industry. Before starting his own company, he worked for Feed Management Systems and Cargill. Peter grew up on a family farm in North Dakota, two hours away from his current home in Fargo. Ask him which two island countries he has called home, why he's known as the potluck guy, or his daughter's favorite knock-knock joke. At the conference, Peter will be pitching his company, Genesis Feed Technologies to attendees. 56
What most excites you about the ag space right now? We've been talking about data for years, and I believe now is finally the time where the connectivity will exist to bring that data together in a meaningful way to make important changes to the industry.
How can tech and farmers better work together? Increased communication. Openly sharing problems and listening to them to work collaboratively to create high-impact solutions.
Why is your message applicable to growers? The vision: Produce 70 percent more food to feed the estimated 10 billion people by 2050. Using technology and data to create efficiencies, economies of scale, and improved profitability are imperatives to deliver sustainable farming methods to achieve that vision.
Chief Data Officer at the State of North Dakota
If there's one thing you'd like to say to growers that you won't in your presentation, what would it be? Proceed boldly. Our lives are, quite literally, in your hands.
Why participate in the Cultivate conference? This conference is an opportunity to showcase the agriculture innovations of North Dakota to the world and, in doing so, help growers meet the demands of the increasing farm-to-fork value chain for global nutrition.
What most excites you about the ag space right now? Harnessing the data tsunami from IoT and equipment then leveraging artificial intelligence on that data to drive innovations, new jobs and job markets, and providing growers with the technology platforms to deliver nutrition globally.
How can tech and farmers better work together? It is imperative that Cultivate results in an ongoing dialogue between tech and farmers. It is imperative that there be a common frame of reference for both to drive the innovations and execution of global food growth and distribution.
Dorman Bazzell, North Dakota's Chief Data Officer, has spent 35 years helping organizations drive value from data. His mission is to improve the lives of citizens of the State of North Dakota while helping to create a national and global dialogue for the advancement of the human condition through vision, innovation and execution of ideas. Bazzell will be the moderator for the cyber discussion. Photo provided by the State of North Dakota FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
FROM SEED TO FEED: GENESIS FEED TECHNOLOGIES’ NEW PROJECT WITH THE GRAND FARM GIVES YOU A BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT THE LIFE OF A SOYBEAN By Marisa Jackels
Consider the simple soybean. Less than a tenth of an inch wide, this beige-colored bean is tucked inside green pocketed sprouts whose stalks can grow up to 6.5 feet high. Small, unassuming little beans, and yet they are the United States’ most valuable agricultural export. According to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service's (FAS) "2020 U.S. Agricultural Export Yearbook,” total soybean exports in 2020 reached $25.683 billion, far exceeding corn at $9.210 billion. Here in North Dakota, soy is part of our agricultural DNA. We are one of the top ten states for soybean production. However, few have traced the journey of soybean from seed to feed in its entirety.
This is precisely the goal of “Seed To Feed”, a Genesis Feed Technologies project being launched at The Grand Farm. This project will trace the life of a soybean from planting seeds in the soil all the way to being consumed by an animal. The goals are to educate industry leaders about the supply chain while showcasing providers working to make it more efficient. “The Seed to Feed project was created as an educational experience demonstrating how the supply chain works. It looks at questions like, ‘Who are the key players along the supply chain, and what solutions are being developed to improve it?’” Peter Schott, Genesis Feed Technologies CEO, said. “It’s a big show and tell, a conversation starter, and hopefully an inspiration for improving both the supply chain and ag industry as a whole.” Genesis Feed Technologies, a Fargo-based agtech startup, partnered with The Grand Farm, an agtech innovation and research initiative, to secure a 5-acre plot of land for the project located at the Grand Farm Innovation Site south of Fargo. Seed to Feed partner Proseed supplied the seeds, which were planted at the beginning of May and are already sprouting. Soon, the land will be decorated with signage walking visitors through the journey of the soybeans, as they go from plant to harvest, to soybean crushers, to
02 01 Soybeans are planted.
feed manufacturing. The idea is that the entire supply chain can be represented in close proximity, Schott said—ultimately showing how this kind of traceability can bring more value back to the growers. “This project plays a key role in our mission to define new premium standards for soybeans being sold to crushers and grain elevators,” he said. “I grew up on a farm, and the goal is for our work to give value back to farmers like my dad and brother—who are as we speak planting crops for the year. We believe this project and other GFT initiatives have a real shot at making positive changes on production agriculture.” These are the innovative projects that the Grand Farm is designed to make possible, Grand Farm leadership said. Andrew Jason, Head of Special Projects for Grand Farm, and William Aderholdt, Grand Farm Program Manager, described the Grand Farm as existing to foster connection, facilitation, and amplification of local agtech innovators. “We want people to see that we have a global ecosystem around ag innovation based in Fargo,” Aderholdt said. “By bringing these ideas together, we hope this leads to more collaboration.”
Soybeans grow from seed, to hypocotl, to cotyledon and ﬁnally into mature plants that seed out in the fall.
Soybeans are harvested in the fall at the end of their growing season.
Farmers truck beans to a local grain elevator.
Feed mills process soybeans into feed primarily for hogs and chickens.
Trains haul beans from grain elevators across the region toward their ﬁnal shipping destination.
Trains haul beans from grain elevators across the region toward their ﬁnal shipping destination.
FROM SEED TO FEED PROJECT:
MEET THE PARTNERS
AGLAUNCH.COM About AgLaunch AgLaunch is revolutionizing the way that innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market. By leveraging its distributed network of farm incubators, entrepreneurial farmers, aligned capital partners, research consortia, technical consulting, and best-inclass accelerator programming, their goal is to effectively challenge the status quo and thoughtfully create value for farmers and the communities they serve. The AgLaunch vision is a transformed regional agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.
What problem in the supply chain we're solving, and how Data Interoperability remains a massive challenge in agtech, and while this problem is technically solvable, conflicting incentives throughout the supply chain and within the agtech ecosystem make it difficult for a private technology company to effectively integrate systems across many farms. The solution, as is often the case in agriculture, is farmers working together. AgLaunch has developed a Data Commons owned by the AgLaunch Farmer Network that enables farmers to securely aggregate, store, and share data from and with multiple technology providers.
The Seed to Feed project is led by Genesis Feed Technologies. GFT is in turn organizing and collaborating with other industry partners. Each of these partners is a leader in the ag industry and each represents different solutions within the supply chain.
AGRIDIGITAL.IO About AgriDigital AgriDigital is on a mission to power trust in the global agri supply chain by combining physical inventory management and workflows, supply chain data and commodity backed inventory finance into one easy to use and secure digital platform. Waypath for farmers, AgriDigital's harvest and inventory management platform, covers all aspects of grain supply chain management including contracts, deliveries, storage, payments and invoices - including contracts, deliveries, storage, payments and invoices. Waypath gives farmers the flexibility to access and manage their data whether they are out in the field, in the office, or on vacation. Waypath helps farmers get the most value for their grain with the tools to sell at the right time, for the right price. At AgriDigital, we are laser focused on solving real problems for our customers, and collaborating to create truly connected supply chains. Get in touch with our team and let's grow together.
GEORA.IO About Geora Agri-supply chains are under pressure to be more sustainable, efficient and secure. At the same time, farmers don't have access to the finance they need to meet these challenges. Geora provides a solution to data fragmentation and a lack of trust across global agri-supply chains, with easy and affordable digital tools to validate supply chain claims and lend to farmers. Geora is a blockchain platform built for agriculture, with an API and application layer offering all agri-supply chain participants access to the best of emerging technology. Through a single online platform, Geora’s standard workflows allow traders and agribusinesses to integrate data, value agricultural produce and finance farmers. In the Seed to Feed project, Geora will be using its blockchain to provide traceability throughout the process of the soybean’s journey.
About Proseed Proseed’s mission is to provide great seed at a reasonable price and to have fun doing it. Our goal is to provide programs, products, technology, and value to make our dealers and their growers as profitable as they can be.
VERIGRAIN.COM About VeriGrain VeriGrain is a unique new tool that helps growers get optimal prices for their grain by providing more accurate and detailed grain quality and quantity information. The VeriGrain app tracks grain as it is sampled when loaded into or out of storage and streamlines interaction with analytics labs and grain buyers.
NORTHERN CROPS INSTITUTE
PROSEED VERIGRAIN 62
NORTHERN-CROPS.COM About Northern Crops Institute Northern Crops Institute (NCI) is a collaborative effort among Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota to support the promotion and market development of crops grown in this four-state region. NCI is an international meeting and learning center that brings together customers, commodity traders, technical experts, and processors for discussion, education, and technical services. Situated on the campus of North Dakota State University, in Fargo, North Dakota, USA, this unique facility is only minutes from the farm fields that yield much of the world's food. NCI's mission is to support regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern grown crops.
Seed to Feed to the Future For production stage partners like Proseed, being part of projects like this helps them stay at the forefront of agtech. “If we can be early adopters to something that’s good and benefits our customers, in my opinion, we’re perceived as a better company in the dealer and farmer’s eyes,” Proseed President Keith Peltier said. “The more you can verify where a seed is planted and where it goes, the more that benefits our customers. We liked the possibility of the project showing that value.” The possibilities of the Seed to Feed project’s impact are not just local, but global. Already, leaders in agriculture from around the nation and world recognize North Dakota and the upper Midwest as a hub for ag innovation. Now, they are traveling to the Grand Farm to see what Fargo has to offer. What are the possibilities of this 5-acre plot of land? The soybeans may be 0.1 inch in the dirt, but the possibilities of what this could become are as wide as a North Dakota sky.
Follow along with the life of a soybean at seedtofeed.info, on social media @ genesisfeedtech, and in future Future Farmer issues where we’ll be sharing updates and a deeper look at the project.
We're in the midst of another busy summer in ag, meaning the Grand Farm is running at full throttle. In each issue of Future Farmer, Grand Farm offers up insight into what's new and notable in the cross-section of start-ups and agriculture. This month, we get a glimpse into RDO's collaboration with the Grand Farm, Proseed's recent seed developments, the possible impacts of the carbon market on agriculture and more!
On a 70-acre plot, situated on the west side of Interstate 29 and referred to as “Site C” at the Grand Farm, Tony Kramer plants soybeans. “It is a crop that does not grow tall, so it lends itself well to getting into the field and getting up close with it,” Tony, an Agronomist for RDO Equipment Co., explains.
the space to conduct any trials of its own, Tony was eager to play a role in the Grand Farm and create a “playground” for companies to test, trial and learn. And using it they are. The planted space at Site C is a test site to everything from small equipment, such as sensors, to larger machines, such as tractors.
When the RDO team was asked to plant a field for other Grand Farm partners to use for testing and learning, Tony initially envisioned planting corn, a much less resilient crop than soybeans and, therefore, better for field trials. However, “knee high by the Fourth of July,” echoed in his mind and reminded him 10-foot-tall rows of corn would make the field incredibly difficult for partner companies to access, walk through and get up-close to the areas where they would be testing their equipment innovations and theories.
Beyond Tony’s expertise, RDO’s position as a large John Deere dealer means access to the production equipment needed to plant the land. For Site C, Tony used a Deere 8R 410 Tractor and an ExactEmerge planter, the latter was chosen because its speed made it the ideal machine to get the crops planted quickly. The ExactEmerge planter is capable of planting at 10 miles per hour, much faster than a grower would do in a similar situation.
And that accessibility was important, because RDO’s role in this first year of the Grand Farm has one key focus: Plant the land to create a learning space for other partners.
In addition to being an Agronomist, Tony is a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), holds a Precision Ag Specialty Certification (PASp) and is no stranger to field trials. Even though RDO would not be using
Another tool the RDO team is bringing to Site C and Grand Farm partners is the John Deere Operations Center, which Tony describes as, “a collaboration space for all the partners.” The Operations Center is a farm management information software, offering capabilities for multiple partners to collaborate on Site C using one set of data. While each partner uses the data differently, reliable and easy access to each other data’s is part of what makes the program at Grand Farm unique.
A grower would normally plant soybeans at a speed of 4, maybe 5 miles per hour as a best practice for optimal placement and yield potential. In our case, we didn’t have that same risk to manage. We know this planter is capable of offering precise speed placement at that high speed.” - Tony Kramer on planting at a speed of 10 miles an hour 68
Because each partner uses the data in the John Deere Operations Center differently, Tony offers the following real-life explanation to illustrate why a cloud-based solution is critical: “After a grower is done planting, he or she can share select data with trusted advisors, like their agronomist. Assuming the grower used a map-based prescription, the agronomist would have immediate access to the as-applied planting map to see planting accuracy based on the prescription. The data helps the agronomist set expectations when going out to do stand counts after emergence. They know what to expect; for example, they need to base the stand count in Zone A on 32,000 seeds per acre, while Zone E needs to be based on 28,000 seeds per acre. Having all the data in
one place is cleaner for review and analysis, and convenient for reporting and future access.” In addition to the value of readily-available data for all the partners to review, analyze and use for decision-making, Tony points to the convenience the tool offers when multiple collaborators are involved.
innovation. Up next for RDO: The Grand Farm’s Cultivate conference on July 15. Visit RDOequipment.com to learn more about precision agriculture technology. Find informative articles, watch helpful videos, and listen to Tony, host of RDO’s Agriculture Technology Podcast.
“No one is exchanging flash drives, or working with multiple platforms and devices,” Tony explains. “It is a cloud-based space for everyone to use. Everyone with credentials can log in on their smartphone, tablet, computer – any device, anytime, anywhere.” Advancements are happening in agriculture every day and Tony is proud that RDO is playing a role in fostering and supporting that
By Dr. William Aderholdt
Proseed In this issue of Future Farmer, the Grand Farm is working to highlight partners working in seed production and planting. One of these key partners working on many projects on the Grand Farm is Proseed. Seed development is very important to the work modern growers do in their operations. Each variation provides significant value, curtailed for the needs of each individual farm. Today, many farmers throughout the MidWest are managing extreme drought conditions – many variations of seeds are being developed to help combat these stresses and provide yields producers can count on.
Who is Proseed? Proseed, as the name suggests, is a quality seed provider located in Harvey, ND. They provide a wide variety of seeds including canola, sunflower, corn and soybeans. In addition to providing seeds, they run two different programs called the ‘Right Stuff’ and the ‘Right Choice’ where people can explore rewards and discounts on buying Proseed products. The ‘Right Stuff’ program is aimed at expressing their appreciation for the military services of the nation whereas the ‘Right Choice’ program focuses on different rewards, discounts, Scheels gift cards that people can avail for after earning points on their Proseed purchases. The company aims to provide programs, products, technology and value to make their dealers and growers profitable. They have multiple dealers spread all across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota who can be located through the Proseed website (Proseed :: Locate A Dealer). The Proseed website allows buyers to access the yield data of different varieties of canola, sunflower, corn and soybeans seeds. Proseed with a mission to provide great quality seeds at a reasonable price empowers its buyers by allowing them to investigate the quality of Proseed products before buying them while also earning great discounts and rewards. From Proseed Proseed’s decision to get involved with Grand Farm is because we have a firm belief that innovation and data driven results through research are an important way to stay current amongst the constant changes we see in our industry. Our customers are our top priority and we take pride on being able to answer their questions and help bring the latest
innovations to their farm. At Grand Farm we are currently growing what we would call “An Agronomy Playground.” We take real life situations our growers could experience and implement them into our research. For example’s we have corn, soybean, and sunflower planting date studies, corn and soybean population studies, corn depth trials, multiple treatment studies, and much more. We want to show our growers visuals to help them understand the effects of what they or others could possibly experience in a real-life situation on their farms. We don’t believe in just handing out a pamphlet consisting of pictures and words describing any one of these situations. We believe being able to meet in person and use something that can be seen and touched brings an experience to the grower that they’ll never forget. How to Get Involved and See Their Work Proseed has numerous projects happening on the Grand Farm Innovation Site this year. Some of these projects include seed variation trials, the use of biologics to stimulate growth and nitrogen uptake, timing of input applications, timing of planting and harvest, and many more. These projects include many of the crops Proseed provides to the growers throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. Proseed is working in collaboration with many If you are interested in seeing this work, we welcome you to come to the Grand Farm this season at one of the many events.
By Dr. Ruchi Bhardwaj
How Will a Carbon Market Impact Agriculture? Grand Farm hosted a two-
hour virtual event on May 14th, 2021 exploring the impact of carbon on agriculture. The virtual event was structured around panel discussions about the state of the carbon market in agriculture and how will the carbon market impact growers. The twohour, virtual event included pitches, informative speakers and investor reverse pitches. Andrew Jason with the Grand Farm team hosted more than 450 people from around the globe who gathered to hear the opinions of the agriculture experts representing different perspectives from industry, start-ups, higher education, and government.. This event highlighted work from around the world detailing the impacts a robust carbon market will have on agriculture. Grand Farm's mission is to engage organizations from around the world to develop solutions for some of the largest problems in agriculture with innovation through collaboration. Carbon sequestration has risen to one of the most talked-about topics in agriculture. Carbon sequestration is the removal of carbon from the
atmosphere, and some farming practices are thought to assist with this function. The panel discussion about ‘the state of the carbon market in agriculture’ was moderated by Connie Bowen, Director of Innovation, with AgLaunch. Dr. Bill Wilson, University Distinguished Professor at North Dakota State University, highlighted that the current carbon market demands official standards because both companies and countries compete on standards to allow more efficient trading mechanisms. Allison Nepveux, Director of Sustainability at Bushel, suggested that carbon market standardization will also help farmers earn credibility when trading crops. Dr. Wilson talked about distinguishing between carbon trading versus carbon contracting considering the complexities involved in carbon contracting such as mechanisms for verification and certification, transferability, ways to fight contract disputes, merchantability, etc. Considering the ambiguity around the carbon market from both buyers' and producers' perspectives, Allison stated
that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered around the practicality of a robust carbon market. Some of the questions shared by Allison included: 1. How to create a baseline (onboarding, data collection e.g. for how long the grain can be stored underground) for farmers to adopt better practices and in return get rewarded on the other end? 2. What are the limitations of focusing exclusively on carbon emissions? 3. How do the policy incentives differ between European and US markets? Dr. Wilson concluded the discussion by stating that carbon testing technology needs to be extremely low cost, credible and efficient. The panel discussion about ‘how will the carbon market impact growers’ was moderated by Mark Watne, President of ND Farmers Union. Mark shared that farmers are interested in
contributing and being able to make a difference. There is a need to identify protocols that enable farmers in understanding how they qualify if they store carbon (or nitrous oxide), and how it translates into the market where they can get paid. Farmers want to add value but they struggle in navigating the pathway in the field of the carbon market in its current state. The panel discussion focused primarily on three questions.
questions: 1. What is the biggest barrier for the carbon market to be fully adopted or established? Barriers pointed out by the panelists included: • Adding additional agricultural practices (e.g., long-term no-tillage together with cover crops)
• Expecting farmers to pay a cost for participating in the carbon market
1. Carbon markets for farmers: are they worth the hype?
• Data issues: not clear about how to lock it down?
2. What needs to be done for the farmers to get into the Carbon market? 3. What the panelist’s organizations are doing? The panelists included Terri Herzig from CHS, Brandon Hunnicutt, Farmer from Nebraska, and Chris Harbor from Indigo Ag. Mark wrapped up the panel discussion with the following two
• Ambiguity related to carbon market pricing with different types of crops
• An ambiguity of farmers on how to get involved/participate in the carbon credit programs
• Openness to change for different agricultural practices
2. Who is best to lead the carbon market initiative: government, current industry, or higher education program? The panelists unanimously agreed that all three entities must be involved in establishing a successful carbon marketplace for both domestic and international trading in agriculture.
Meet the speakers Mark Watne Mark Watne was elected president of North Dakota Farmers Union in November 2013. In his capacity, he serves as president of Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company and Farmers Union Service Association, all headquartered in Jamestown. Bill Wilson Dr. William W. Wilson received his PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba in 1980. Since then he has been a Professor at North Dakota State University in Agribusiness and Applied Economics with periodic sabbaticals at Stanford University. Recently, he was named as a University
Distinguished Professor at NDSU which an honorary position is, and a great achievement. Terry Herzig Terry Herzig is director of retail agronomy for CHS Country Operations, a division of CHS, the nation’s leading farmerowned cooperative and a global energy, agronomy, grains and foods company Allison Nepveux Allison Nepveux is the Director of Sustainability at Bushel, an independently owned and operated software company headquartered in Fargo, N.D. Allison is leading Bushel's strategy around how to enable sustainability and traceability using Bushel's innovative software products and solutions. Chris Harbourt Leveraging over 25 years of experience in leadership positions at the intersection of science, agriculture, engineering, and business, Chris leads Indigo’s efforts to develop a trusted and scientifically rigorous carbon credit program for farmers as Global Head of Carbon. Brandon Hunnicutt Brandon is a fifth generation farmer, who currently farms with his semi-retired dad (Daryl) and brother (Zach). They
raise corn, soybeans, popcorn, seed corn and have some organic production and he graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Ag Business. Connie Bowen Connie Bowen is the Director of Innovation and Investment for AgLaunch, a farmer network based in Memphis, TN. In this role, she is responsible for driving organization growth opportunities, building and growing innovation capabilities, and championing innovation to build a transformed regional food and agricultural economy.
By Andrew Parsons 78
n May of 2021, Grand Farm had the opportunity to provide testimony to the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. With a focus on “Diversifying On-Farm Income: Opportunities to Strengthen Rural American”, Grand Farm Director, Brian Carroll, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak with our nation’s leaders. After providing an overview of Grand Farm and the research and technology being developed in and around the region, Carroll had an opportunity to answer questions posed by the United States Senators present at the hearing, including Senator Baldwin from Wisconsin, Senator Tester from Montana, and Senator Hoeven from North Dakota. Senator Tester: I am a small farmer in north central Montana, and last spring I called up to see what an Autosteer for my tractor would cost - $15,000 - $20,000. I had to make a decision in my mind whether overlapping once and a while was worth $20,000 - what is Grand Farm doing in the affordability realm? Because if farmers can’t afford it, it doesn’t do a bit of good. Carroll: Well, first, we want to drive technology to solve solutions. The first way you do that is by bringing the grower right in the middle of the innovation. At the Grand farm, a big part of what we do is bring them right onto the farm and listen understanding what their pain points are, and then bringing in private companies, innovators, collaborators, and research organizations to solve those. As that happens, we get a feedback loop between the growers, innovators, and technologists in which we are creating solutions that re more specific to the problems that are being solved.
affordable. But, also, the application of that equipment is going to be better designed around specific challenges. Senator Hoeven: Farming and ranching has become a very complex, sophisticated business. Talk a little bit about what you are doing to make this new wave of technology widely available. Carroll: I’ll say this - as we think about the Grand Farm bringing all our partners together, new business models will start to emerge. One that is really exciting for me is farming as a service. There are organizations that are providing services to farmers on demand, almost like an Uber for farm equipment. As we think about the implications, this could bring down cost structure, and could also bring other farmers into the industry that had not considered that path before. I think the future of innovation and technology could see an impact in different markets, and we are only just imagining what will start to emerge. Senator Hoeven: What is most helpful to you now, as Grand Farm ramps up operations and gets things going? Carroll: If you think about our partners we began with Microsoft as our first large partner, which multiplied to nine partners last year. Now, we stand at 37 partners, and we expect to be at over 100 by the end of the year. Those partners are the organizations that we will collaborate with and look at how we can apply technology to solve these specific grower pain points. So, to me, support in moving forward our partnership model, bringing more people into this ecosystem, and connecting with those that want to solve problems is what has me the most excited. https://grandfarm.com/grand-farmto-testify-at-united-states-senatesubcommittee/
Over time, as we bring more automation online and have the ability to do these things, it’s going to bring the size of equipment down, and make it more FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
From Ranch Hand to
Agtech Software Developer ustin Cote graduated from Emerging Digital Academy (EDA) in December of 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was a member of the second group to finish the academy, nicknamed “Babbage Cohort”. Born from the Grand Farm, Emerging Digital Academy is a 20-week immersive software engineering bootcamp, designed to take people with little to no coding experience and turn them into fully qualified software developers in just a few weeks. The program is a full-time experience, with up to sixty hours a week of classroom instruction, group work, and after-hours project time. The program is based in Fargo, North Dakota, and is powered by Emerging Prairie. Now, six months after Dustin’s graduation, we got a chance to sit down with Dustin and talk about his experience with Emerging Digital Academy, and how it has prepared him for a job in agtech. Overall, how would you describe your experience at Emerging Digital Academy? I would describe my experience at EDA as amazing and chaotic, all at the same time. Chaotic, because of the sheer volume of
knowledge that’s coming your way - each week is something new. I often equated it to drinking from a fire hose! But amazing, because of the connections that I made and the journey of where I am today. What do you love most about technology in North Dakota? When I was looking into EDA, the main reason I chose it was because I wanted to get involved in the agriculture technology community here in Fargo. I’m very excited to watch that community grow, and have the ability to be a part of that journey. It’s been awesome. How did EDA prepare you for your current job? EDA prepared me for my current position by teaching me how I learn best. In my current role, every day is something new and different, and whether it’s a new API or a new framework, you’re always learning. So, having that tool and knowing how I learn technology best was absolutely invaluable. Looking back on those 20-weeks, what are you most proud of? I’m most proud of the sheer volume of information I learned, and being able to apply that in the solo project and group project. The culmination of bringing everything together and actually creating something from nothing was amazing.
Speaking of projects, can you describe your solo project to us? So, in the final weeks of EDA, each student picks a passion project and builds an application or web page from scratch. My solo project was a digital calving book. It was fun to be able to take a problem I was familiar with - always miss placing the calving book on the ranch - and applying all that I had learned in EDA to the problem. This application would allow ranchers to have a digital version of their calving book with them at all times. Where are you working now? After EDA I had the opportunity to interview with 701x, a local Fargo startup that is developing software and hardware for tracking cattle. I could not believe how my solo project fit in so great with what they were doing! I am now a full stack developer at 701x, and I primarily work on the front end of our application. It is crazy to think that a year ago I was daydreaming in the tractor about all the possibilities of technology in agriculture, and now I am helping develop that technology, it is all thanks to EDA. Learn more about Emerging Digital Academy: www.emergingacademy.org
Photo via Grand Farm
Dustin Cote Emerging Digital Academy graduate
The Cultivate Conference, hosted by Grand Farm, is set to take place on July 15 and is an important event for agriculture in our area. As we...
Published on Jun 23, 2021
The Cultivate Conference, hosted by Grand Farm, is set to take place on July 15 and is an important event for agriculture in our area. As we...