Future Farmer May/June 2022

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MAY/JUN 2022





























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May/June 2022 Volume 3 Issue 3

Future Farmer Future Farmer is published 6 times a year and is direct mailed to farmers throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. Find us online at Futurefarmermag.com.

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Opportunities don’t wait. We’ll help you stay ready for them. A growing operation keeps you going from sunup to sundown, and beyond. Bremer Bank knows it’s good to have a banker who helps you weather the ups and downs of the market, add to your operation and get the resources, inputs and equipment you need to make it pay off. Because right now, relationships matter more than ever. Talk to a Bremer banker today. Understanding is everything. © 2022 Bremer Financial Corporation. All rights reserved. Bremer and Bremer Bank are registered service marks of Bremer Financial Corporation.


Cultivating a Brighter Future For Agriculture

Photo provided by Emerging


Kit Franklin, Agricultural Engineering Senior Lecturer at Harper Adams University, speaking at a past Cultivate Conference. Kit Franklin, Agricultural Engineering Senior Lecturer at Harper Adams University, speaking at a past Cultivate Conference.




By Brady Drake

Since 2017, Emerging Prairie, the parent company of Grand Farm, has hosted the Cultivate Conference. Innovators, industry leaders and growers gather at this conference designed to energize its attendees and accelerate collaboration toward solving some of the biggest problems in the agriculture industry. And it is clear that this gathering of forward-thinkers is here to stay!

The Past

As an organization designed to energize communities, Emerging Prairie's creation of the Cultivate Conference in 2017 seemed like a perfect fit for the community’s longstanding history of innovation in agriculture—and it was a hit.

Andrew Jason

Director of Ecosystem at Emerging Prairie

The event, which 219 people attended, featured 18 panelists and speakers giving "TED Talk" style speeches on some of the most important topics in agriculture. Since then, this yearly event has hosted some of the biggest players in the industry.

About the Grand Farm The Grand Farm, led by Emerging Prairie, (whose mission is to energize communities) aims to capitalize on the region's potential in the agriculture and technology industries.



Noteworthy Past Speakers: Kit Franklin

Did you know?

Emerging Prairie has hosted the Cultivate Conference every year since 2017, with the lone exception being its 2020 conference which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural Engineering Senior Lecturer at Harper Adams University. Harper Adams University was the UK University of the Year runnerup in 2020. He is also the Principal Investigator at Hands Free Farm.

Governor Doug Burgum He is the 33rd and current governor of the state of North Dakota. He is also a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Great Plains Software, which was sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001.



Awaiz Khan Principal Solutions Architect for Mobile Private Networks/5G at Amazon Web Services, which provides ondemand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies and governments on a metered pay-asyou-go basis.l Investigator at Hands Free Farm.

Vice President and General Manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division, Network Platform Group at Intel.

Senior Vice President at AGI SureTrack. He was the CEO, President and CoFounder at Farmobile, which is an advanced technology that delivers a collect-share-monetize digital strategy and was required by AGI.

Managing Director of Industry Research at Microsoft. He also serves as the CTO of Agri-Food at Microsoft and leads Networking Research in Microsoft Research, Redmond. Previously, he was the Chief Scientist of Microsoft Azure Global.

Co-Head of Conti Ventures A company investing growth capital in technology companies across Agriculture, Food, Animal Health and Sustainability.

Caroline Chan

Jason Tatge

Ranveer Chandra

Christopher Abbott

Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

Did you know? In 2021, Governor Doug Burgum was the keynote speaker for the Cultivate Conference?

"For years, one of the biggest complaints from growers is that these AgTech companies don't make products that they can actually use," Andrew Jason, Director of Ecosystem at Emerging Prairie said. "This event, and a lot of what we do, is designed to bridge that gap and bring these powerful innovation leaders to the growers."

The Present The best part about the Cultivate Conference is the fact that it continues to gain momentum. This year's conference will feature a crowd of about 350 and, like in years past, will host a non-traditional ag powerhouse—Google; which will be sponsoring the Bushel + Cultivate Conference Energized by Grand Farm Shindig on Wednesday, June 29 and sending their Field CTO Dustin Williams.

A high level of innovation around agriculture has been taking place in our region for some time now. The Red River Valley is gifted with fantastic farmland, and innovative and longstanding agriculture companies like Bobcat. However, it's about bringing people from outside of the area in to really understand what this area has to offer. "We are really trying to market and position the Red River Valley as an AgTech leader," Jason said. "We want to bring in all of these outside leaders to show them what is really happening here—which is something special."

What to Expect Networking Opportunities:

The conference will be peppered with plenty of networking opportunities and will create space for attendees to connect.

The 2022 Speakers Geneviève ArsenaultLabrecque PhD, Co-founder & CEO, AYOS

Chris Abbot Co-Head, Conti Ventures

Dr. William Aderoldt Director PMO, Grand Farm

Sofía Andreola CTO, CHONEX

Relevant Content:

The content of the conference will be woven in a narrative format to keep everyone engaged.


This event will be hybrid so participants can attend in-person or virtually.

Phil Bax Co-Founder/Agronomy Science Lead, Smart Agri Labs


There will be workshops and meetings on cybersecurity in food and ag supply chain on Wednesday, June 29, as well as workshops on carbon, traceability and grower feedback as part of Cultivate on Thursday, June 30.

Duane Bernhardson Business Development Manager, KWS



The 2022 Speakers

The Schedule

"Cultivate isn't your typical conference,” Jason said. “The conference itself goes from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. After that, attendees have the opportunity to attend workshops around town. We have one at Sons of Norway and one at the Prairie Den, and we'll also have a fun happy hour at Side Street, sponsored by Nori. We want to make our events more engaging so we can get attendees involved and get real-time feedback."

Wade Boeshans Executive Vice President, Summit Carbon Solutions


Midwest Agriculture Summit 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Hosted by FMWF Chamber Located at Delta by Marriott and Livestreamed

Jérôme BoissonneaultLaroche Co-founder & Finance and Commercial Director, AYOS

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29 Bushel Customer Conference 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Hosted by Bushel Located at Sanctuary Events Center

Cybersecurity in Food + Ag Supply Chain 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Hosted by Grand Farm

Rebekah Carlson Agriculture Supply Lead, Nori

The age of agricultural complacency towards cybersecurity and related threats has been blown away by reality. The ransomware attacks on JBS in 2021 and the new Cooperative and Crystal Valley attack showed that the era of cybersecurity complacency has ended in the Ag sector.

Jason Goux Sr. Innovation Strategy Consultant, Compeer FinancialServices

Adam Herges Mosaic

Ken Jackson CEO, VeriGrain



The 2022 Cultivate Conference Content Topics • Farm Management • Farm of the Future • Traceability • Sustainability • Farmer Challenges

As part of Grand Farm’s commitment to lead on topics critical to the future of agriculture, this is a special pre-conference event to the Cultivate Conference focused on the near and future cyber (and related) threats, mitigation and responses for the Ag community delivered in straightforward language. Located at Prairie Den Cowering + Events

Bushel + Cultivate Conference Energized by Grand Farm Shindig 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Located at Broadway Square Open to Attendees of Cultivate Conference + Bushel Customer Conference


12:05 p.m.

8:00 a.m. Coffee + Registration

Introduction of Grand Farm's Grower Advisory Panel

Cultivate Conference

8:30 a.m.

Brian Carroll - Grand Farm


12:15 p.m.

8:35 a.m.

Moderator: Mick Kjar Chris Johnson - C&S Farms

AgTech Investor Q&A

Larry Page - Lewis and Clark Chris Abbott - Conti Ventures 9:00 a.m.

Cultivate Speaker Series

Dustin Williams - Google Duane Bernhardson - KWS Garrett Maurer - Intelligent Ag Adam Herges - Mosaic Michael Lynch and Sofia Andreola Chonex Dr. Greg Lardy - NDSU 10:00 a.m.

Break 10:35 a.m.

Cultivate Speaker Series

Eric Newell - Stoneridge Software 10:45 a.m.

Startup Pitch Sessions

Jérôme Boissonneault - Ayos Diagnostics Laura Lee - Combyne Bart Womack - Eden Grow Systems Phil Bax - Smart Agri Labs Ken Jackson - VeriGrain 11:20 a.m.

Demystifying Ag Financing Moderator: Jason Goux - Compeer Troy Andreasen - AgCountry 11:40 a.m.

Panel: How North Dakota Can Be A Leader in Ag + Energy

Moderator: Josh Teigen - North Dakota Dept. of Commerce Wade Boeshans - Summit Carbon Joel Jorgenson - BWR Innovations Eric Kresin - CGB Enterprises Ryan Thorpe - Tharaldson Ethanol Joseph Zimowski - Sapphire Gas

The 2022 Speakers

Panel: Farmer’s Final Say

12:40 p.m.


Mick Kjar NAFB Farm Broadcaster/Host of Farm Talk, Ag News 890

2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

AgTech Workshops Carbon Workshop Hosted by Nori and Grand Farm The carbon workshop will explore the unique perspectives of both those buying carbon credits and those supplying credits. The first 45-minute session will focus on companies purchasing carbon credits, and the second will focus on the growers selling carbon to the market. Grower Workshop - Direct Dialogue with Growers Hosted by Grand Farm's Grower Advisory Board Join to connect and communicate directly with the growers. Bridge the gap between Agriculture and Technology by having conversations that are straightforward and meaningful.

Eric Kresin General Manager Market Development, CGB Enterprises

Greg Lardy VP, Agricultural Affairs, North Dakota State University

Laura Lee Director of Business Development & Partnerships, Combyne Ag

Traceability Workshop Hosted by SB&B The SB&B Foods traceability workshop will focus on the journey of crops throughout the global value chain. The 45-minute session will capture key successes, expose challenges & highlight future solutions in traceability.

Michael Lynch Co-founder & CEO, CHONEX

4:00 p.m.

Social Hour + Networking Sponsored by Nori

Garrett Maurer Director of Product, Intelligent Ag FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM


The 2022 Speakers

The Future

Blueprints for the future Grand Farm Innovation Facility

Larry Page Managing Director, Lewis and Clark AgriFood

Scott Sinner Partner | Supply, SB&B

Josh Teigen Director of Economic Development & Finance, North Dakota Department of Commerce

As the Cultivate Conference and Grand Farm move into the future, there are a number of exciting things on the horizon. "In future years, we are going to scale this," Jason said. "We want this to be our signature conference."

Dustin Williams Field CTO, Google

Bart Womack CEO, Eden Grow Systems

Not Pictured:

Chris Johnson, Owner, C&S Farms

Ryan Thorpe, COO, Tharaldson Ethanol

Joel Jorgenson, CEO & President, BWR Innovations

Joseph Zimowski, Project Manager, Sapphire Gas Solutions

Eric Newell, CEO, Stoneridge Software 14


The Innovation Facility

Later in 2022, the Grand Farm will break ground on its innovation facility, which will be located in Casselton, North Dakota. This facility will provide acreage for, "the deployment of additional AgTech projects, rapid prototyping capabilities and increased research capacity." The site will surely be a part of future Cultivate Conferences.

The Advisory Board

At the 2022 Cultivate Conference, the Grand Farm will unveil its Grower Advisory Board, a group of innovative growers to provide advice, critical feedback and recommendations to the Grand Farm management team on a range of agricultural technologies and environmental issues of importance to agriculture and rural communities. Increased Community Involvement Another goal of the Grand Farm is to continue increasing community involvement. This means once the innovation facility is underway, there will be more opportunities for tours, workshops and more. To learn more, visit grandfarm.com




No eneva G y b oto



ady D By Br

Brian Solum, President and Founder of the Outdoor Adventure Foundation

hether we want to acknowledge it or not, we all face the reality that life, as we know it on earth, is fleeting. What's more, life on earth is far from fair. Every year, thousands of young individuals are diagnosed with and face life-threatening illnesses and disabilities and, as a result, are forced to face the harsh reality of life's fragility. However, the Outdoor Adventure Foundation is helping as many children as it can in their hunt for purpose in the face of adversity.





Photos provided by the Outdoor Adventure Foundation

This really gives the kids something to look forward to. When you receive a very serious diagnosis and you're going through all sorts of treatments and things like that, there aren't always a whole lot of things to look forward to." -Brian Solum

It takes a significant amount of resources to make a significant impact like the Outdoor Adventure Foundation does. Like most 501(c)(3) nonprofits, the Outdoor Adventure Foundation relies nearly entirely on contributions

Financial contributions, of course, are at the pillar of what keeps the Outdoor Adventure Foundation ticking as it costs the organization $15,000 for their annual fishing trip alone. Imagine what it takes to visit the Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Twins and the 20 or so big game hunts that they do every year! Donate at give.usoaf.org/p/ndoaf

We’re here to get you ready for PLANTING SEASON

Among the other ways to help the Outdoor Adventure Foundation includes donating land for hunting. "Over the years, so many great landowners have come on board," Solum said. "We have terrific people who let us come out and hunt on their land. Sometimes they even let us stay in their house. Other times, we will find lodging nearby."

Contact Jim or Mac in Hawley or Jon in Moorhead for your Ag Lending needs

Hawley (218) 483-3361 Moorhead (218) 233-2544 valleypremierbank.com




A real estate developer by trade, Outdoor Adventure Foundation Founder Brian Solum has always had a deep passion for hunting and the outdoors. However, his path to starting the Outdoor Adventure Foundation started while he was watching the Outdoor Channel. "There was a hunt on there for an organization called Hunt of a Lifetime (an organization based out of Pennsylvania that helps grant hunting and fishing dreams for children age 21 and under who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses or disabilities)," Solum said. "I was really inspired by it and became a chapter ambassador and did that for four years before starting Outdoor Adventure Foundation in 2006." In starting his own organization, Solum made it a point to ensure the nonprofit helped with a few important things, including: • 90% of the money goes toward the kids and veterans. • Kids up to the age of 25 are allowed to participate. • Disabled veterans up to age 40 who are wheelchair-bound or have lost a limb due to combat are also allowed to participate. Those key points have helped to make the organization an absolute difference-maker. "This really gives the kids something to look forward to," Solum said. "When you receive a very serious diagnosis and you're going through all sorts of treatments and things like that, there aren't always a whole lot of things to look forward to."



Photos provided by the Outdoor Adventure Foundation

"I had it legislated into law about 10 years ago where we can use any weapon during any season to fulfill our tags," Solum said. "Meaning we can use a gun during bow season. That really helps us work with our land owners because a lot of them are obviously hunters as well and want to use their land during hunting season. But when it's not hunting season, that's when they're willing to lend their land to us."

with permission to hunt through a car window or teenagers going through chemotherapy, each and every one of those trips or hunts has a huge impact on its participants. To learn more, visit outdooradventurefoundation.org

Since its founding in 2006, the Outdoor Adventure Foundation, which now has eight chapters across six states, has helped thousands of children and veterans experience the outdoors in a way that would be fairly difficult outside of the organization. Whether it's a group of wheelchair-bound individuals



What is the deal with the emerging Carbon market? By Rebekah Carlson, Nori

About the Author Rebekah Carlson is the Agriculture Supply Lead at Nori, a company creating an open marketplace in Carbon Removal. 24



The emergence of carbon programs for farmers demonstrates a shift in our agricultural narrative. For perhaps the first time, the value in farming is not just in the commodity grown from a field, but how that commodity is grown. In the past few decades, every farming innovation has focused on increasing a commodity’s return on investment (ROI)— increasing yield and becoming more efficient with inputs. While each of these innovations have contributed to how we support feeding our growing population, they have required the farmer to rely on purchasing something to then increase their ROI. For example, latest genetics, tailored herbicide or fertilizer blends, precision agriculture technology, or baling corn stalks. Carbon programs, on the other hand, represent an entirely new income stream for farmers. The introduction of carbon markets shifts the focus from maximizing yield and minimizing inputs towards the economic value to how the land is managed. Stewarding the land well with conservation practices isn't just environmentally beneficial, it’s economically beneficial. The creation of an entirely new asset for farmers has led to plenty of excitement in the industry. And, with that, plenty of confusion.




CARBON MARKETS? Beyond just a new trend, what are carbon markets and will they last? Carbon markets are being driven by a rapidly deteriorating environment. Our 100 year droughts are now happening every 5 years resulting in record low yields. Flooding and extreme weather events are happening with more frequency keeping farmers out of the field when they would normally be planting or spraying. Consequently, there is a growing awareness in the public sector of how important it is to be better stewards of our carbon by taking it out of the air and putting it back in the soil.


In addition to emitting less, we also need to remove carbon to support modern living and properly care for the earth. How do we get our land and resources back to equilibrium so we are less dependent on purchasing so many inputs to supplement how nature is supposed to work? How do we incentivize nature to work as intended?

Each flavor makes up how companies and individuals can make a difference in reducing their impact to the environment. When it comes to agriculture, carbon removals are the foundation of the trending carbon programs.


This is where carbon markets come into play. In short, carbon markets allow for companies and individuals to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing offsets from someone who is sequestering carbon. There are three flavors of carbon offsets:

Carbon avoidance I rode my bike and didn’t drive.

So will this trend last? The short answer is yes. Given the interest of both buyers of carbon and of companies helping farmers enroll their land, it seems like carbon markets are here to stay. From a buyer’s perspective, there are sustainability goals that extend to at least 2050. From a farmer’s point of view, we are seeing engagement

from Big Ag companies (think Bayer, Corteva), policies shaping the marketplace, land grant universities investing in the research in soil carbon, and countless startups and emerging companies working on technologies to help measure and monitor changes in agricultural soil carbon. This level of engagement shows a stickiness to carbon markets that makes their longevity much more probable than, say, biofuels from corn stalks. Given that carbon markets are here for the foreseeable future, how do farmers engage so they can capitalize on this new income stream?


What to Look for in Carbon Markets

Carbon reduction I drive an electric car, not an SUV.

By simply changing practices to more sustainable approaches, farmers can store more carbon in their soil. This approach of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing the carbon in the soil uniquely positions them in the marketplace to sell their carbon removals.

Carbon removals I paid a farmer to store more carbon in their soil.



If carbon markets are here to stay, why are they so confusing

As these marketplaces are just beginning, there are many unknowns. The science is very young as to what happens to carbon in the soil. Remember, most grant money has gone towards research focused on increasing yield, battling bug pressures, etc and not how carbon moves through soil. The rules are just being defined, and the hype is off the charts.


also have a diverse set of programs to appropriately meet farmers.

That said, this is the time to get involved in carbon markets. While the concept of carbon as an asset is being formed, every voice helps shape the process. And to have the market tailored to the needs and rhythms of farmers, more and more farmers need to be part of it.

From an operational standpoint, all markets are based on farmers switching to practices that result in more carbon stored in the ground. From a very simplified science point of view, the more plants on the ground leads to more photosynthesis, which leads to more carbon taken out of the air and brought to the roots of the plants. And the less disturbing of the soil keeps that carbon in place. So practices that put more plants on the ground (cover crops, diversifying rotations, perennials) and keep the soil in place (reduced tillage, no-tillage) all work towards increasing soil carbon.

Just as there are many flavors of carbon offsets, there are many flavors of carbon programs for farmers. Which is a good thing—with so many diverse types of farms, farmers, operational management, etc. it is important to

The beauty of it is that these practices are not new, innovative, complex ways of farming—they are historic, tried, and true agronomic practices that help nature feed itself, rather than depending on expensive technologies.



So where do you fit? What should a farmer look for? The first step towards turning operations into profit is to determine which program works best for you. Here are some areas to ask about: • Program type - have you already adopted these soil carbon increasing practices and want payment; or would you like to change practices and looking for economic incentive to help with the transition? • Payment structure - What does the payment schedule look like? Do you sell your rights to carbon and get paid up front, or look for an option where you control the price and timing of the carbon credit? • Contract length and obligation - How long are you required to update records? Are you signing up to maintain practices, or simply to keep the carbon sold in the ground?

• Data requirements - Does the program need extensive records to issue credits? Will they visit your field for soil sampling? If so, who owns the data from records and soil tests? • Other obligations - If you sign up for a program, is it simply for carbon? Or are there any obligations to purchase new products in association with the particular carbon program? Supplementary to the carbon programs themselves, there are many different companies that are focused on helping farmers benefit from the soil in their ground. Examples include different data management systems, helping farmers enroll in

programs, technologies to monitor carbon, products that potentially increase carbon gains. While all of these players are aiming to help drive the adoption of regenerative practices, ensure that including them in your carbon plan will add value to the process, not just become a middleman.

Preparing For

What's Next As the idea of carbon as a commodity is being shaped, there are some key ways you can prepare so that you are best suited to start an income stream from carbon. Some tips include: 1. Get your records in order - Most programs are based on records, so the more organized your farm records are, the quicker the process. 2. Talk to many carbon programs before beginning the process Understand the ins and outs of each program before committing, as each program has a different set of requirements.

3. Be patient - This is a new frontier. If the program you talk to claims to have it all figured out, be a bit leary of them. The space is new and there are many bumps along the way. The network being built around this is exciting and points toward carbon programs being here to stay. This network includes changes in policy, federal money going towards research in this space, technologies emerging to better understand and track changes in soil health, and the list goes on. If carbon becomes the next pillar of agriculture, it paves the way to creating more marketplaces for other environmental benefits, such as water quality, erosion

control and pollinator habitats. Each of these marketplaces will broaden the reach of who benefits from the marketplaces— for example, someone who has been no-tilling for 30 years may not fully benefit from carbon, but they could from water markets. The hope is that farmers will start making agronomic decisions on how to put more carbon in the ground, and not simply to maximize yield. With the emergence of this marketplace, it is imperative that we have many farmers’ voices involved so that this step is taken on the foundation of farmers. Stop waiting around to see what’s next— get involved in marketplaces so you can shape what’s next.

For further reading, check out the following resources.








ast year, the Steffes Group conducted 697 auction sales in 11 states. Through our work in the auction business serving individuals who are actively transitioning part or all of their family’s land wealth, we are offered a unique perspective on the driving factors of land values. It has now been widely publicized that land values are at all-time highs in almost every region of the country. In the last two years, prices have quickly met and eclipsed previous record highs set in 2012 and 2013. There are many driving factors behind land values which are often different for each transaction. In no order, here are 11 factors we often think of in terms of their influence over land values.




FACTORS TO CONSIDER By Max Steffes, Site Leader, Steffes Group

About The Author Max Steffes is the site leader at Steffes Group, a leader in the area for liquidation and management of agrelated assets since 1960. Visit steffesgroup.com to learn more.







Commodity Price

Commodity prices most closely influence land values. As a matter of fact, in some of the exclusively corn and bean regions of this country, you could say they’re almost correlated at a 1-to-1 ratio. The price of corn goes up, and land values follow suit at nearly an equal rate. Simply put, commodity prices translate to how much money farmers will get for their crops. In periods of higher commodity prices, farmers have access to more capital to make land purchases. The rent markets generally also trend upward, creating a more favorable environment for absentee ownership.

Interest Rates

Yields & Weather

If farmers don’t have a good yielding crop to sell, they won’t reap the benefits of a good price. Local yields and production closely influence land values within that neighborhood. We’ll see depressed prices relative to other areas when there is widespread crop failure of sorts. Drought, flooding, hail—you name it.



While it is not uncommon for us to see cash buyers for land purchases at our auction sales, it still takes plenty of capital to purchase land. The reality of today’s land markets shows us a million dollars won’t buy you 160 acres in some parts of North Dakota and Minnesota. Down south, and it’s double that in some places. Having capital to complete a purchase is a necessity. Borrowing money is part of that equation, and the cost of funds or the interest rate paid is factored into the land market when buyers are making land purchases.

Soil Fertility & Drainage A piece of land with rock, sand and water often won’t allow you to do anything but grow grass and feed cows. Conversely, a property with productive silt loam soil will often raise a beautiful stand of corn or soybeans, generating more income. The soil may be incredibly fertile in areas with poor drainage, but good crop growth is inhibited due to moisture, flooding or alkalinity issues created by poor drainage. This is particularly troublesome in the flat areas of the prairie. Drain tile and modern ditching practices coupled with GPS guidance have drastically improved the drainage issues of the recent past. However, oftentimes there isn’t a place to go with the water, or draining the wet area is restricted by government decree leaving little room for improvement in turn influencing the value of the land.


Location & Neighborhood Geography influences the length of the growing season from north to south. Areas further south can grow longerseason variety crops that often yield better. Simply put, some neighborhoods are more competitive than others. There are certain farming and ranching communities with many established farm families with youth on their side. This typically creates a more competitive environment for land values and rents.


Intended & Unknown Alternative Uses

Land with the propensity to raise high-value crops will generally make a more significant economic impact than land that can only be used as pasture or hunting land. Most purchasers will buy land and use it in a way that maximizes the economic impact. Appraisers refer to this as the property’s “highest and best use,” the best possible way to use the property. We often see the land utilized for different uses than their perceived highest and best use—a bridge for a city, a solar park, a hog barn or a dream house. With farm real estate, the assumption often is that it will be farmed, grazed or hayed. Buyers are often understandably coy with their intended use of the property until after the purchase. Unknown alternative uses can drastically increase the prices these buyers are willing to pay.




With sizable modern farm and ranch equipment, good and legal access is very important. If access is poor or there is no legal ingress to the property, it generally has negative implications on the value of the land. If there are several wide approaches on the land, adjoining well-maintained gravel roads, or highway frontage, these positives will all play into the underlying value of the land.

Previous Exposure to the Market If a property has been previously exposed to the market, it can have implications at auction or again offered on the open market. Buyers are often apprehensive about giving more than previously asked and or are not interested in bidding due to the perception of the seller wanting what was formerly advertised as an “asking price.” Moreover, if the land is sold and then reoffered for sale in a short amount of time due to circumstances like financial gain and money troubles, we are apprehensive about participating. We find that buyers aren’t usually sympathetic to sellers looking to make a quick profit or in financial hardship. FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM



Contiguous Land

Large tracts of land in agricultural circles are highly sought after. The ease of farming and ranching on these contiguous tracts is a big plus for producers. For investor buyers, it may be easier to find a tenant on 1,000 acres of pasture or cropland compared to 100 acres.


Local Perceptions & Politics

Compared to other types of real property, the marketplace’s perception of a seller’s motivation to sell is more of a factor in land transactions in tight knit farming communities where everybody knows everybody. A prospective buyer may perceive a feuding family selling as a barrier to even registering to bid, given hypothetical disputes that may or may not arise due to multiple personalities. Local politics and other personalities can keep people away or make them more active, ultimately influencing price. An estate situation where land needs to be sold due to death typically yields more buyer interest simply because it so plainly tells the story. Bank-owned, forced, or bankruptcy sales where the decision lies in the bankruptcy trustee’s hands can also positively and negatively influence price depending on the buying public’s perception of the situation.




Method of Sale

There are various methods of sale, including the auction method, sealed bid sales, listing sales, and offer and acceptance between two private parties. The auction method of marketing is the preferred method of sale throughout the Midwest. It allows for true price discovery where interested bidders compete for the same property towards their price. Most record prices throughout the Midwest are attained through competitive auction sales, driving the price beyond any recent comparable sales.

There are a multitude of factors that influence land values. It can be challenging even for individuals actively engaged in the sale and management of agricultural assets to anticipate which factors will come into play. It can be daunting for a landowner who has never navigated these waters before. If you’re on the seller side of a land transaction, my advice to you is simple - get some help. The costs associated with engaging the services of a competent land professional, be it a rural appraiser, auctioneer or real estate broker, will be well worth it in terms of your net outcome.

By Brady Drake No matter how successful your farming operation is, there is always room to learn. Here are some awesome options for doing just that!

THE WORST HARD TIME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL By Timothy Egan The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since.

THE FURROW MAGAZINE "The Furrow was first established by John Deere Company in 1895 as “A Journal for the American Farmer.” The goal of the magazine remains the same - to tell stories that people enjoy reading and provide them with knowledge that they can apply in their operations." -From The John Deere Website



Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” -New York Times


"You decided to become a farmer because you love being outside, working the land and making a difference in the way we eat and farm. And when you decided to become a farmer, you also became an entrepreneur and business person. In order to be ecologically and financially sustainable, you must understand the basics of accounting and bookkeeping, and learn how to manage a growing business. Author Julia Shanks distills years of teaching and business consulting with farmers into this comprehensive, accessible guide. She covers all aspects of launching, running and growing

a successful farm business through effective bookkeeping and business management, providing tools to make managerial decisions, apply for a loan or other financing, and offering general business and strategy advice for growing a business. Whether you’ve been farming for many years or just getting started, The Farmer’s Office gives you the tools needed to think like an entrepreneur and thoughtfully manage your business for success." -From Julia Shanks's website




"Food has become the new religion. While denominations such as paleo, vegan, and organic debate which is “the way,” we’re ignoring a truth that affects us all: to support a population nearing 10 billion by 2050, agriculture must become infinitely sustainable. To feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next thirty years, which means farmers worldwide must increase food production by 60 to 70 percent. This book is about the small percentage of those “farmers of consequence” being called upon to grow the vast majority of the world’s staple food supply. While mighty in their ability, they need support from a



general public that increasingly has no idea how they operate. In Food 5.0, Robert Saik takes you on a journey from the “muscle era” of farming to a future where the convergence of new technologies like sensors, robotics, and machine learning make infinite sustainability achievable. With the veil lifted on modern agriculture practices, you’ll be inspired to contribute to a culture where farmers can adopt the science and tools they need to carry out their mission of feeding the planet." -From the Lioncrest Publishing Website


"Food fights might seem entertaining, but there's nothing funny about the fights taking place over food production. Resource limitations, animal welfare, and biotechnology are just a few issues cropping up to create confusion in the grocery store. Ultimately, both farmers and food buyers are making a personal choice, and author Michele Payn-Knoper calls for decorum instead of mayhem in the conversation around farm and food. In an effort to break stereotypes, one side of this book describes farmers who don't wear overalls but who do use technology in producing food and preserving the environment, dairy farmers who work on "cow comfort," and how hard farmers work on sustainability. On the other side, the book reminds farmers that only a tiny percentage of the population lives on a farm and urges farmers to tell their stories through social media and everyday conversation to correct mistaken beliefs about

food production perpetuated by traditional media. The book's very design lends itself to exploring both sides of the issue. One side of No More Food Fights! is aimed at those who primarily consume food—chefs, health care professionals, foodies, dietitians, and retailers. Flipping the book reveals the other side, which is geared toward those who produce food—farmers, agricultural businesses, and ranchers. Throughout the book, the author intersperses personal stories from farmers, food scientists, dietitians, and ranchers. She naturally guides readers from both sides to"reach across the plate" to honestly explore food concerns and the critical connection from farm gate to food plate. Bring peace to your plate-and your next trip to the grocery store-with No More Food Fights! as your guide." -From Amazon.com




"A Soil Owner’s Manual: Restoring and Maintaining Soil Health, is about restoring the capacity of your soil to perform all the functions it was intended to perform. This book is not another fanciful guide on how to continuously manipulate and amend your soil to try and keep it productive. This book will change the way you think about and manage your soil. It may even change your life. If you are interested in solving the problem of dysfunctional soil and successfully addressing the symptoms of soil erosion, water runoff, nutrient deficiencies, compaction, soil crusting, weeds, insect pests, plant diseases, and water pollution, or simply wish to grow healthy vegetables in your family garden, then this book is for you. Soil health pioneer Jon Stika, describes in simple terms how you can bring your soil back to its full productive potential by understanding and applying the principles that built your soil in the first place. Understanding how the soil functions is critical



to reducing the reliance on expensive inputs to maintain yields. Working with, instead of against, the processes that naturally govern the soil can increase profitability and restore the soil to health. Restoring soil health can proactively solve natural resource issues before regulations are imposed that will merely address the symptoms. This book will lead you through the basic biology and guiding principles that will allow you to assess and restore your soil. It is part of a movement currently underway in agriculture that is working to restore what has been lost. A Soil Owner’s Manual: Restoring and Maintaining Soil Health will give you the opportunity to be part of this movement. Restoring soil health is restoring hope in the future of agriculture, from large farm fields and pastures, down to your own vegetable or flower garden." -From Amazon.com

Bill Leier

Richard Gleason

VP of Investor & Corporate Relations Bill.Leier@EPICCompaniesND.com

Investor Relations Richard@EPICCompaniesND.com



As the 2022 summer comes into full swing, there are a lot of exciting things in the works at Grand Farm. In each issue of Future Farmer, Emerging Prairie offers up insight into what's new and notable at the cross-section of start-ups and agriculture. This month, we learn more about advancements in semiautonomous electric trucks, the Grand Farm Innovation Facility and more! 48




58 50

How Boson Motors is Making Affordable SemiAutonomous Electric Trucks for Farmers


Grand Farm Announces Site Selection for Future Innovation Facility Near Casselton, ND

54 What Farming Means to Me


Bringing Local Food to the Table


RED E, LLC Helping Farmers Feed the World

60 Conference Offers Space Food For Thought 64 Highlighting Innovation in Rural Connectivity



Arun Seelam and Naveen Thomas of Boson Motors in Fargo, ND.

Arun Seelam and Naveen Thomas of Boson Motors and Brian Carroll and Andrew Jason of Grand Farm at Grand Farm's Downtown Fargo location.


he idea for Boson Motors started in 2017 when the co-founders Arun Seelam and Suri Bhupatiraju were working at Google as software engineers. Seeing the potential for powerful software to make a positive impact, the friends had an idea to create a simple and affordable autonomous electric vehicle that could easily be programmed and used by anyone. The first opportunity to create the vehicle they had been imagining came in 2018 from a local organic grocery store that wanted to have a more sustainable impact. The store asked them to develop a small electric vehicle for their use and the co-founders developed a prototype which has now matured into their main truck product. It is operated through a simple Android interface and can integrate with additional software. In 2020, Boson Motors joined the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, a startup accelerator program in Minneapolis, MN that partners with Cargill and Ecolab to focus on the future of food and agriculture. While in the program, Arun interacted with Brian Carroll, Director



of Grand Farm, and was sent Grand Farm’s Solving Growers’ Pain Points Through Technology report. Grand Farm created the report to highlight pain points growers are facing in hopes that the industry will work together to solve those problems. At first Boson Motors didn’t do much with the report. But as they delved into the document, it gave the team direction on the current and future needs of growers and they used it to design the functionality of the vehicle. Two of the main pain points they focused on were workforce shortage and reliability in the agriculture industry. With this in mind, they designed two main features. The first is a Follow Me or shadowing function. In this mode the truck will slowly follow someone around a field or worksite as they go and accept commands from the operator. The second is a Path feature where the truck will follow a designed path that has been programmed into it. An example of this is a designed path for spraying. The truck also has a dump function for the bed so it can drop off items along the path that is chosen. The vehicle collects data as it moves and relays it in real time. This data includes such

things as pest damage, irrigation leaks, debris, or broken branches. And while the truck can operate autonomously as programmed, it is a fully functioning and drivable vehicle. Along with the electric truck, Boson Motors also offers a solar panel charging system and electricity storage unit. In April 2022, Arun traveled to Minneapolis for a Techstars alumni event. Since he was in the area, Arun got in touch with Brian Carroll to thank him for the Grower Pain Point report that was so helpful in designing the truck, and was invited to visit Grand Farm’s offices at the Prairie Den in Fargo, ND. Arun also wanted to visit Fargo to scout it as a possible location for Boson Motors’ operations. Currently, the company is headquartered in California and manufactures its vehicles in India. The co-founders want to bring their manufacturing to the United States and have been searching for the right community to call home.

During Arun’s visit, Grand Farm connected him to the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation which began connecting him into community partners and programs. It soon became clear that Fargo has a lot to offer including access to growers and early adopters of technology innovations, pieces that are critical to the continual development of their products. Boson Motors is still evaluating communities but have narrowed it down to Fargo and one other location. Arun and the Boson Motors team are pushed by their mission to help farmers obtain tools of the future without breaking the bank and to save them time so they can spend more of it with their families. With their open platform and practical utility, don’t be surprised if you start seeing their trucks in your area. And keep an eye out this summer as they release their newest truck, the Zekrom!



Grand Farm Announces Site Selection for Future Innovation Facility Near Casselton, ND


On May 3rd at the BankNorth Theater located inside of Cass County High School in Casselton, ND, Grand Farm and Casselton Economic Development jointly announced the future site of Grand Farm’s Innovation Facility would be located on about 150 acres two miles west of Casselton along I-94. Melissa Beach, Casselton Community and Economic Development Director helped unveil the site. "We are excited that Grand Farm chose our community for its permanent location. With our long history in agriculture and abundant



community and industry partners, the Casselton area is a great fit for their Innovation Facility.” Since its launch in 2019, Grand Farm has been operating and deploying AgTech projects on donated acreage south of Fargo, ND. With continual expansion of projects and research, Grand Farm determined that constructing an Innovation Facility on their own acreage would best allow them to continue their impact in agriculture technology innovation. “We couldn’t be more excited to join this great community," Brian Carroll, Director of Grand Farm

said. “While our current test site has exceeded expectations, we continue to add projects and seek to provide additional capabilities. When you look across the Casselton area, you see a network of established organizations from agriculture to transportation to finance, so we’re really joining as another piece of a deep-rooted ecosystem.” Grand Farm’s Innovation Facility will be intentionally designed to be a continually adapting, demonstration and innovation space that will stay at the forefront of agriculture technology innovation. It will

provide expanded acreage for the deployment of additional AgTech projects, rapid prototyping capabilities, and increased research capacity. In February, the North Dakota Department of Commerce announced it had selected Grand Farm as a recipient of the department’s Autonomous Agriculture Technology Matching Grant. The $10 million grant was created with funding from the 67th Legislative Assembly to encourage and support the advancement of autonomous farming technology by awarding a 1:1 match of funding for the

deployment of an innovation facility, project management for complex North Dakota-based and global autonomous agricultural concepts, and workforce initiatives to upskill the autonomous agriculture workforce with qualified professionals to ensure advanced farming techniques. Grand Farm directly engages the community, bringing together local stakeholders with organizations from around the world to collaborate on innovations solving some of the world’s largest challenges in AgTech. Grand Farm was developed to be additive to

existing infrastructure, programs, and state/federal investments. Its independent, neutral-platform allows for direct and rapid engagement with growers, industry, researchers, and government. This gaps-based approach maximizes investment into programs, facilities, and infrastructure.



Farming is the biggest part of my life. I’ve been around it my whole life. I grew up a few miles away from my godparents’ farm. My summers went from riding bikes and finding something to do with my buddies to working, in a hurry. I started working every day when I was 12-years-old, riding my dirt bike out there to the farm. I was doing everything that Mark, my Godfather, was doing. The one job that's engraved in my mind comes from my first year. I had to clean out a rotten wheat bin. It was the middle of June, 90 degrees outside and I didn’t know what was coming. I had heard about cleaning out a grain bin and being young and dumb but I didn’t think it would be that bad. I stepped in and that initial wave to my senses was like, “Man, it's hot and dusty in here!” But the first break of the rotten wheat made those senses feel like nothing. Even through a mask, the smell hit me like a freight train. The dust just plastered to my sweat and made me want to walk out and call it a day.



In spite of that, I still love farming. Getting rid of the old and getting ready for the new is part of farm life, just like digging fields for planting in the spring.

seeing family farms dying off to this. A farmer doesn't just own the land, they nurture the land: work the land by tilling, plowing, seeding, burning, or even no till.

Farming is all about taking risks and managing those risks. In 2019, the weather was a big problem, we ended up finishing in the spring of 2020 where we had to prevent plant fields. The weather controls a farmer and the markets andot all risks can be navigated, they are reliant on the weather. Risks navigated correctly result in relief, and a paycheck. But most important of all, another year of farming. A risk doesn’t just put us in a difficult situation but our families, community, customers, and the land.

Some farmers feed the land by giving it nutrients, rotating crops, and preserving topsoil. For some properties, a farmer has to drain the land or irrigate the land. Lastly, you harvest the land to repeat for as long as possible. Farming isn't just a job, it’s a lifestyle for my family and me. My responsibilities are to keep the farm going for generations to come. I owe it to myself to take risks to fulfill a promise I made to myself.

Farming makes me feel like I have a purpose in society. I realize most people feel like their work has meaning, but I feel the most beneficial when I'm farming. My responsibilities are to the people, the land, my family, and to myself. My job is to feed, clothe, and help power the world. The land is getting taken over by investors, industries, and housing, and I hate

In the farming community, what goes around comes around. When people are in need of help, you do your best to help, because those same people would do the same for you. You don't ask anything in return except the bare minimum. Doing these acts helps you recognize needs in every aspect of your life and ways to be helpful. Farming provides job opportunities, but without people interested in those opportunities there wouldn't be farming.



Bringing Local Food




Bjorn Solberg is the Director of Wholesale Operations at Red River Harvest Cooperative. He graduated from Concordia College studying Social Studies Secondary Education. “My first job was at Scheels on 45th in high school and I appreciated the overall business structure, management style, and employee relationships they had instituted which originally got me interested in management. In a college Sociology class, I had an epiphany concerning our social structure and the various systems we operate within–especially our agriculture/ food system. A passion to help change a system paired with the entrepreneurial spirit my mom has always exuded led me to pursue an opportunity to be an agent for change. I knew there was a need to address since my time in college and took advantage of an opportunity a little more than 5 years later to start addressing it.” Red River Harvest Cooperative currently operates an online marketplace where customers can shop from a variety of local food products from numerous local producers. Behind the scenes, they are trying to continually offer other resources to producer members in order to help increase our community’s access to local healthy food. They aim to build stronger ties within our community by championing family farm agriculture, providing farm-totable products, and facilitating educational opportunities. In general, Red River Harvest Cooperative serves both local food producers AND people who eat food. More specifically, they cater to customers who are conscientious of the benefits that local food offers, mainly fresher produce and keeping money local. They mostly cater to producers at all levels–whether they are just starting out or are on a wholesale level. Red River Harvest Cooperative offers services like an online presence such as a profile and a convenient order processing platform as well as delivery of products–among other things. In the future they could offer more services such as product storage and processing.

Bjorn, a fifth generation farmer, was operating at a wholesale level and due to various circumstances needed to pivot to direct sales to customers. “I did the easiest thing: make a Facebook post. I ended up taking around 50 individual orders for 50# bags of potatoes–but from a multitude of posts, comments, and messages. There had to be a better way to reach customers and I knew I wasn’t the only producer with similar issues. Why not work together in ways that make sense for not only our business, but compliment other local businesses too? Thus, conversations started and Red River Harvest Cooperative was created.” “We believe that a resilient local food economy is not only beneficial in many ways, but also necessary. Our current food system has its flaws that are not being addressed–which aren’t as pronounced on a local level. Strategic partnerships can be greatly beneficial to businesses, so we work cooperatively in ways that make sense in order to strengthen the viability of our members. We provide our members the opportunity to save on costs and time among many other benefits.”

As he reflects on some of the high and low points of the journey creating Red River Harvest Cooperative, Bjorn shares, “Every day can be a roller coaster ride–even in 'normal' times. The highest point has been to see the positive trajectory of things even in spite of the recent hurdles. The best part is definitely the encouragement from supporters giving you the boost to keep pushing.” As he looks to how the community can support their next phase of growth, Bjorn said, “Visit our website! Also, supporting any form of local food promotion is a form of supporting us. Attending food events, asking your school board to pursue Farm to School programs, dining at local restaurants that support local producers, and attending farmers markets are also great ways to support our cause.”

To learn more about Red River Harvest Cooperative, you can visit their website to sign up as a customer and for weekly emails, or check out their facebook or instagram!



Matt Faul, Co-Founder of Red E, LLC

RED E, LLC Helping Farmers Feed the World


ed E, LLC started with the vision and passion of two twin, redheaded brothers who grew up spending countless hours out on the farm learning the value of hard work and what it meant to earn something you’ve worked hard for. It wasn’t just basic life that was shared but rather a passion to help people and to do all things well. “Our entrepreneurial ambitions really began back when my brother and I were buying and fixing cars and recreational vehicles in high school. We continued this into college as time allowed but it really came into view



when we entered into a competition called Innovate ND where we competed for cash prizes and angel investment for a successful business case.” Together, Jesse and Matt studied Mechanical Engineering at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND and had a dream to build a business as good as its customers. After almost 10 years out in the industry working for leading Original Equipment manufacturers, the vision to launch a company transitioned from a simple dream to that of a reality.

About Red E, LLC By the end of 2012, a growing interest in the special needs of manufacturing companies and local farmers inspired one of the brothers to start Red E, LLC. Headquartered in West Fargo, ND – USA, Red E has grown from one person and a small office to a fullscale company made up of an engineering team, office team, and warehouse & service team helping them meet the growing needs of customers.

In early spring of 2021, Red E, LLC made the INC 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list—number 923 to be exact—a milestone moment for the brothers. However with the success, they faced difficulties navigating business relationships, work-life balance, and the overall health of the company as they were met with rapid growth. Having made it to the other side, the brothers credit this time of adversity to what their business has become today.

alone, but partnered with high quality people with great technical talent, together, excellent things can happen.

With over 10 years in the engineering industry, their clients choose Red E for the full range of engineering solutions including the focus to improve the design and reliability of products and deliver in all aspects of engineering, program and technical requirements. Over the years, the engineering professionals at Red E have worked on hundreds of engineering projects spanning wide ranges of industries and technical expertise. Red E has grown into a multi-faceted, dual purpose organization.

The phrase "good alone, together excellent" defines the synergies of the founding brothers and applies to the approach Red E takes with its customers. You can be good

To support Red E, LLC, check out their website https://gorede.com Youtube channel, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!



Conference offers Space food for thought.

Photos by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today.

Space Ag Conference at UND covers challenges, opportunities for farmers, scientists and CEOs


hen it comes to deep space exploration or living on the surface of Mars, providing enough food for humans to remain healthy for months or years at a time is a critical challenge. Speakers at the April 14 Space Ag Conference, which was sponsored by the Grand Farm Education and Research Initiative and the University of North Dakota and took place at UND’s Memorial Union, tackled the question of how nourishing food can be grown in space to make space



travel and exploration a practical reality. The conference also provided an opportunity to connect NASA with what North Dakota researchers and businesses have to offer, as well as explain what NASA can offer businesses and research universities. U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., the conference keynote speaker who participated virtually because of blizzard conditions in the state, outlined the role North Dakota can play in helping NASA develop solutions for providing future

space explorers with the necessary sustenance to survive in space. “Some people might be watching this and thinking the overlap of space and agriculture seems far fetched,” he said. “And yet, it’s really not farfetched at all. It’s quite significant on a very large scale. “When you think about the things every human in the world needs – energy and especially food – and consider the fact that farmable land is shrinking, clearly higher yields on

less land is something we in North Dakota have been involved in for a very long time.” After mentioning the long history of space studies at UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, Cramer noted that likewise, “Space is something we’ve been involved in for a very long time. So the juxtaposition of these two incredible industries really makes all the sense in the world.” Jonathan Gehrke, senior

director of development for UND’s aerospace school, thanked the city of Grand Forks, UND, Grand Farm and Emerging Prairie in Fargo, as well as the conference partners, speakers and 250 attendees, some of whom attended virtually. “Thinking about the relationships we have in North Dakota, the partnerships between our friends to the south and the whole ecosystem here, there’s a wonderful suite of opportunities for people to come together, think about

"Space is something we’ve been involved in for a very long time. So the juxtaposition of these two incredible industries really makes all the sense in the world.” - Sen. Kevin Cramer FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM


big ideas and actually have an impact on them,” he noted.

applications for agriculture and think about the business opportunities.”

Whether it’s using worms from earth to infuse barren Martian soil with organic matter capable of supporting plant growth, relying on fungus as a food source or employing robotic arms to monitor and tend to space gardens, a key conference message was that it’s likely that partnerships between government and private entities will be involved.

A round trip to Mars to establish a base would take an estimated three years. Bringing along enough food for every astronaut on the trip would require an enormous volume of precious cargo space, not to mention the fuel needed to transport it.

“We’re really excited about driving innovation that’s going to help our farmers in our region through space technologies,” Andrew Jason, ecosystems director for Grand Farm said. “I want you to think about the practical day-to-day



Ralph Fritsche, NASA senior project manager for space crop production in support of deep space exploration, discussed the challenges of providing food to astronauts aboard the International Space Station and how their diet continues to lack several key nutrients. “When we talk about missions to Mars over

longer periods of time, we have to recognize that food and nutrition really are the first line of defense for crew health and performance,” he said. “Our goal is to help supplement that by providing safe, nutritious and acceptable fresh food and add some variety to the crude diet.” To solve the problem, Fritsche said collaborations with businesses, companies and universities will enable NASA to overcome the challenges it faces. He discussed the short-term and long-term approaches NASA plans to test. “When I start talking about first missions to Mars, they’re going to include pick-and-eat crops that can be grown and consumed directly because we don’t

have processing and preparation equipment that allows us to convert things into more meaningful meals,” Fritsche explained. “Right now, we’re looking to start testing some of these systems in low-earth orbit on the International Space Station. In a little while, you’re going to hear about opportunities beyond the space station that are coming to the commercial world to continue that type of research.” A special seminar with representatives from NASA’s Office of Small Business Program highlighted opportunities that exist for North Dakota businesses and research entities to either employ technologies developed by NASA or assist the agency in solving the challenges

it faces. These include Small Business innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. “A role that’s important for government to play is to knock down barriers to entry because we need all hands on deck if we’re going to enhance our own capabilities, both on earth and in space,” Cramer said. “We have to continue to invest in our young people, invest in STEM education, invest in research and development and to work together with the private sector.” Trent Smith at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida described one such program for university students.

“We have the Technology Transfer University where entrepreneurship programs and business programs use our technology portal, which allows students to build business models around real NASA technologies,” he said. “It’s really exciting to find out what the different teams come up with at the end. Oftentimes, they can find markets we don’t know about.” Other UND speakers at the conference included UND President Andrew Armacost; Pablo de León, chair of the Department of Space Studies; Joe Vacek, associate professor of aviation; and Michael Dodge, Space Studies associate professor.



Highlighting Innovation in Rural Connectivity A

ccording to research by the McKinsey Center for Advanced Connectivity and the McKinsey Global Institute, if connectivity is implemented successfully in agriculture, the industry could tack on $500 billion in additional value to the global gross domestic product by 2030, amounting to a 7 to 9 percent improvement from its expected total that would alleviate much of the present pressure on farmers. As sensors, autonomous vehicles and other forms of technology take on an increased presence on the farm, connectivity is increasingly important. However, rural communities are often the areas with the poorest connectivity. At its recent Innovation

Series, Grand Farm explored the importance of investment and infrastructure when it comes to rural connectivity. Grand Farm’s Innovation Series is a regular meetup that covers a different topic in AgTech at each event, and serves as a gathering of entrepreneurs, industry professionals, and innovators. Grand Farm co-hosted the event with the Technology Council of North Dakota (TechND), which promotes the use, growth and development of technology in North Dakota. Two of TechND’s board members, Justin Forde of Midco and Troy Walker of DCN, emceed.

Some of the speakers included… Wabash Heartland Innovation Network

Open Ag Technology and Systems Center

Ensuring that connectivity reaches every field is increasingly important as the digitalization of the agriculture industry continues. The Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) highlighted their work to make sure the region they represent isn’t left behind.

Building on WHIN’s efforts, attendees heard from Dennis R. Buckmaster, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Dean's Fellow for Digital Agriculture at Purdue University. He discussed his take on data science and digital agriculture, which are key components in the future of farming.

This is a consortium of 10 counties in north-central Indiana devoted to working together to fuel prosperity by harnessing the power of Internet-enabled sensors to develop the region into a global epicenter of digital agricultural and nextgeneration manufacturing. Through their Living Lab, they attract and vet technology providers, then work with them to lower the risk for their members to try out innovations. In the process, all the data gets sent back to WHIN to be organized and made available for research so more technology providers can be created.

Dennis’ previous work at Penn State involved research emphasis in forage systems and horticultural mechanization and teaching in agricultural machinery design and systems management. His current focus is the realm of digital agriculture and applied data science. He coordinates and supports work across the college and university related to data driven agriculture. With devices and data, he and collaborators collect, curate, communicate, and compute for improved agriculture and food systems. He co-leads the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Center which fosters open source culture and develops solutions, speeding innovation and improving workforce. Dennis is an award winning teacher and co-coordinates the Agricultural Systems Management program; he teaches computing and management for these students.





Dakota Carrier Network Taking a look closer to home, Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) shared their innovative history of rural broadband in North Dakota. • DCN began in 1996 as a unique partnership between 13 independent rural broadband service providers. Currently, they: • Have more than 40,000 miles of fiber deployed across North Dakota. • Employ more than 1,000 people that live in, work in, and give back to local communities. • Have a collective total plant investment worth more than $1.4 billion in North Dakota, and they have invested more than $100 million per year in fiber construction for each of the past five years. • Represent all the major local independent broadband service providers and serve more than 164,000 customers in 250 communities – more than 85 percent of all the exchanges in the state.

Tekniam tekniam.com

Tekniam is a startup focused on bringing connectivity to the most remote locations in the world by focusing on last mile connectivity. They showcased their customizable and instant solution for access to high speed cellular and broadband - Remote Universal Communication System (RUCS.) This is rapidly deployable, bringing reliable last mile and last acre connectivity to communities that need it most.

Farmer & Industry Panel Having heard from organizations working to address issues impacting connectivity, Grand Farm’s Program Management Office Director Dr. William Aderholdt led a panel discussion on the importance of rural connectivity with 701x, Tekniam, and local grower Mark Otis.

Upcoming Grand Farm Events Grand Farm has a number of upcoming events, which you can see at grandfarm.com/events. • Cultivate Conference - Thursday, June 30

• Carbon’s Impact on the Future of Ag - Thursday, July 28

• Autonomous Nation - Thursday, August 25