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Future Farmer THE INAUGURAL ISSUE! Our ďŹ rst issue of Future Farmer is packed with business and tech stories and resources to help our ND & MN farmers learn more about the future of farming

Future Farmer







Believing The only thing hard to see is how you ever got along without it. Where the claims of competitors may get a little fuzzy, Lemken provides a true one-pass tillage solution, no squinting necessary. The Rubin 12’s innovative harrow technology combines aggressive soil tillage with superior seedbed preparation. And when you experience the fully hydraulic depth control system for yourself, you’ll see why Lemken is the clear leader in high-speed tillage.

Contact your LEMKEN sales representative today to schedule an in-field demo and experience one-pass tillage first hand. Jim Balstad, 701-630-9154, balstad@lemken.com


LEAD THE FIELD. Farming is a competitive business. You’ve got to have dependable, efficient equipment like Brandt’s XR GrainCarts if you want to run at the front of the pack. These high-performance units will help you eliminate combine wait-times with features like a high-capacity 20" discharge auger that unloads at up to 620 bushels/min. They come in four sizes and deliver the superior reach of a corner auger for 100% visibility from the tractor cab, which makes for quick, effortless unloading. The result? You get the most productive cart in the industry and enjoy years of worry-free productivity from Brandt. That’s Powerful Value. Delivered.

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Spend less time in your tractor, while getting more done on your farm.















Not having to manually hold the line is easier on the operator’s back, neck, and hands.

Reduce use of fuel, chemicals, and fertilizer by minimizing overlap.



Many farmers see at least a 3% increase in net income in the first year with some autosteering systems.













$1,783.60 *Data based on averages from US Corn, Soy and Wheat farms Source: https://finbin.umn.edu

Wheelman Pro (shown) Complete autosteering system $3,995

Visit handsfreefarm.com/4roi to see how Wheelman can help you win big on your farm in 2020 and receive a Wheelman Discount Offer


MIDWEST TECHNOLOGY MAKING A GLOBAL IMPACT Fargo-based Intelligent Ag Solutions was originally founded by Barry Batcheller of Appareo and Howard Dahl of Amity Technology to produce more reliable blockage monitoring for air seeders. Today, the company focuses on rapid innovation and has yielded several game-changing products. The company has grown with its Recon and Engage product lines by helping growers farm more efficiently in markets around the world. From air seeding to dry fertilizer application, these easy-to-use, yet reliable products help manage in-field margins and extend the life of existing equipment.

IMPROVING PRECISION FARMING The Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor is Intelligent Ag’s flagship product that truly took precision farming to a new level. Unlike traditional optical sensors, the patented acoustic sensors monitor the energy of the seed flow so growers can depend on accurate readings even if the sensors get dusty. If a run has a flow problem, the system gives growers an alert on an iPad® in the cab. Its proven reliability provides the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you’re seeding on every pass. Building on the company's success adding new technology to existing air seeders, Intelligent Ag designed the industry's first retrofit section control for John Deere 1910 air carts. Engage® Zone Control communicates with an air seeder’s GPS mapping system, and can open or close up to eight sections per bin to prevent overlap. For growers, preventing overlap means reducing input costs. Like all Intelligent Ag products, it’s easy to install and built to last. Engage Zone Control is the economical solution for growers who want to benefit from new technology without having to invest in a brand new air seeder. The company’s newest product, Recon SpreadSense, is the first available blockage and flow monitor for floaters. Using Intelligent Ag’s proven, patented acoustic technology, and a clean, simple iPad interface, Recon SpreadSense brings reliable, real-time data from the field to your fingertips to ensure consistent coverage during dry fertilizer applications.

Visit intelligentag.com to locate a dealer. Sound Technology for Smarter Farming

We’re also farmers. Farming is business. We get that. That’s why we are always here for our clients. We’re not only ag lenders at First Western Bank & Trust, we’re also farmers.

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Logan Gunderson Ag Lending Officer, Farmer Tom Larson VP Agricultural Lending


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hether it’s replacing the roof of an heirloom barn or re-siding a homeW stead that needs to outlast the decades of harsh years ahead, you’ll have

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IS YOUR CROP INSURANCE SETTING YOU UP TO FAIL? When you’ve had a bad year, it can impact your plans for the next. With traditional crop insurance you’d be looking to switch to a hardier crop or a less expensive seed variety, even if you know those offer lower yields or less profit.

That’s not setting your farm up for success, that’s planning for failure. Global Ag Risk Solutions protects your revenue, not just your yield so you won’t be left making sacrifices before the season even starts. Whether it’s too wet, too dry, you get pests or an early frost, or even if the markets dip, we provide the coverage you need to farm the way you want.

Why not set yourself up for success this year?

Find an advisor near you







Inspiration.........................................16 Details..................................................18 Meet the Publisher..........................20

>> >> >>

Meet the Editor...................................22 Books for Farm Business..........48 Editorial Calendar.............................24 Podcasts...........................................98 What is A.I?..........................................82 Senator Hoeven.............................66




AN UPDATE WITH GRAND FARM North Dakota's first fully autonomous farm.

FARM MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE Comprehensive farming software reviews.





LEAH OLSON Read about what the CEO of SeedMaster and DOT has to say about automation.

TAYA SPELHAUG Read what Microsoft's Tech Spark N.D. Manager has to say about her work in ag-tech.





WHAT WE DISCOVERED A culmination of our ag-business and ag-tech research completed in 2019.

LAND IN ND AND MN Learn more about the cost and sales of land in our states.


Feelin’ our content? Check out our website at futurefarmermag.com FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM

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Dickinson State University Explore a career in agriculture today!

dickinsonstate.edu/ag 1-800-279-HAWK(4295) | 291 Campus Drive, Dickinson, ND | ï‚‚ DSUDATS 12


JAN/FEB 2020













Learn more about us at SpotlightMediaFargo.com JOHN


DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND TECHNICAL STUDIES No matter where you are in life, Dickinson State University offers you the flexibility to choose an educational path that is right for you. Our students are prepared for rewarding careers in both the public and private sector, from farming and ranching to ag-related business and entrepreneurship. 



Agricultural Studies Options: Business/Marketing International Agri-Business Integrated Farm Management Integrated Ranch Management Natural Resource Management Range Management Soil Science Equine

Agricultural Sales and Service Options: Agricultural Business Management Natural Resources Production Agriculture Technology in Agriculture Equine Management Equine Training

MINORS Agri-Business Equine Geographic Information Systems Soils

CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS Farm and Ranch Management Horse Production

IF YOU’RE THAT KIND OF FARMER, LET’S TALK. PetersonFarmsSeed.com • 866-481-7333

January/February 2020 Volume 1 Issue 1

Future Farmer

Keep your crop working for you, even after the harvest.

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.

Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Director Editor Graphic Designer Director of Photography


INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager

Mike Dragosavich Drago@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Alexandra Martin Danna Sabolik danna@spotlightmediafargo.com

Camille Grade Nick Horob Andrew Jason Dr. Rex Sun Nick Schommer nickschommer@spotlightmediafargo.com

Inbound Marketing Strategist

Kirsten Lund

Graphic Designer ADVERTISING Associate Sales Director

Patrick Thompson, Laura Alexander

Financial Advisor

Ben Buchanan

Knowing our clients personally is what we do.

Sales Executives

Zach Olson Zach@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Matt Becker Matt@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Marketing Designer ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources Associate Controller Account Strategist DISTRIBUTION Delivery

3120 15th St S Suite C Fargo, ND 58103 701-212-4195

Neil Keltgen Neil@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Paul Hoefer Paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Client Relations Manager

Russ Boyle

Kellen Feeney

Senior Sales Executive

Client Relations

Stop by or contact me to schedule a financial review.

Hillary Ehlen Photography@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Tommy Uhlir

Executive Sales Assistant

Knowing our clients personally is what we do.

Kim Cowles

Digital Marketing Strategist


Edward Jones can help you create a strategy designed to help you reach your financial goals.


clientrelations@spotlightmediafargo.com Jenny Johnson Christy German

Russ Boyle

Colleen Dreyer

Financial Advisor

Jay Borland


Cassie Wiste Bruce Crummy, John Stuber, Craig Sheets


Future Farmer is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2020 Future Farmer. All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Future Farmer, and Spotlight LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.

Spotlight LLC 15 Broadway N, Suite 500 Fargo, ND 58102 Info@SpotlightMediaFargo.com ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)

Russ Boyle 3120 15th St S Suite C Fargo, ND Financial 58103 Advisor 701-212-4195 3120 15th St S Suite C

Fargo, ND 58103 701-212-4195 www.edwardjones.com




Here at Fargo, N.D.-based publishing company, Spotlight, we have

produced over 50 issues of Fargo INC! and the impact it is making in the state of North Dakota is unbelievable. We are able to hear from business owners every month on how they used Fargo INC! and the information in it to become more successful in their business. We believe that if we use a similar recipe for Future Farmer, we will receive similar results.

National Quality - Local Feel We ordered over 40 agriculture magazines last year to do research on what farmers have to read. We found that there is an opportunity for a magazine with regional information but a national presentation. We also found that there is an opportunity for more practical application with content. Some of the larger magazines have content that isn't relatable to a regional farmer and we want to make sure our content is applicable to our regional readers.

The Feedback from Farmers from 2019

In 2019, we ran two special issues of Fargo INC!

geared towards agriculture and technology and we were blown away at the response. We had hundreds of emails with feedback and ideas about how to expand on the content - it seemed like everyone was craving more. Not only the farmers liked the content and thought it was well presented, but supporters of the agriculture community reached out to find more ways to support.

More Farm Business Resources than Ever!

In just the past few years, the amount of

farm business resources has exploded! For the first time ever, there are more solutions to control the controllable things better. And the amount of accurate predictive resources are impressive. If you ask any farmer they will tell you that if they can predict elements more accurately they would be happy. We think that goes for all businesses too!



JAN/FEB 2020

Feedback is key! Out of the seven magazine brands we own and produce, we have never received more feedback than from our Fargo INC! business magazine. We hear from business owners monthly about how they used the magazine to not only become more motivated but how it helped them become more successful. We want to create the same concept and reaction from our farm business owners in our region. With new technology and resources the farm business world is more exciting than ever but could also be overwhelming. Hopefully, Future Farmer can learn from Fargo INC! and help farmers just like our local business owners.


>> 17

THE DETAILS Future Farmer. Quite a name and quite a presumptuous ambition, wouldn’t you say? To understand what Future Farmer is, first we have to look at who it is. And that, dear reader, is you. If this magazine is in your hands, your cold-from-outside-and-still-greasy-from-working-on-machinery fingers, I’m glad you opened our magazine. Maybe this magazine has been sitting on the table for a few days, maybe coffee spilled on it and while you were running it to the trash before it made too big a mess, something caught your eye. Or maybe you were flipping through the mail separating junk from bills and were curious what this "Future Farmer" was really all about. No matter. Anyway you got here, I’m glad you did. Future Farmer is an agriculture magazine like no other. Farmers are a very unique type of business owner and we should treat them as such. As business owners ourselves, we are talking to farmers as fellow business owners. Essentially, farmers are entrepreneurs, and need the same tools to run a business as John Deere, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft. Let’s start treating you that way. “There’s already so many farming magazines,” you may moan. We agree. There are plenty out there, and we plan to refer you to them for their specific content. But we are going to be different. We’re not commodity-specific and we’re not simply business advice, either. We are bringing groundbreaking stories directly to your hands (that’s right, you’re getting this magazine in your mailbox) about the future of agriculture in North Dakota and Minnesota, specifically. Honing our skills of featuring local topics while also keeping our eyes wide open to global news, tech and advancements impacting the ag world, this magazine is the resource you’ve been missing.



159 77



Most issues will have extra special distribution based on the theme of the cover story. Ask us for more information on this.


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40 162 53



226 311 147 233 57







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630 478

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423 354


EXPOSURE... We dig deep to find the most

impactful people and resources to ensure they are being exposed to our readers. We do this to not only help inform our readers, but to support these people, products and services.

An editorial advisory board will be constructed from farmers, government

QUALITY CONTENT... We have produced

over 500 quality magazines over the past 10 years and have won the National Media Company of the Year Award. Some of our other titles include, Fargo Monthly, Fargo INC!, Design & Living and Bison Illustrated. It’s safe to say we believe that quality content is the absolute key to success.


With the large shift happening as the next generation takes over the farm, it is important that these new farmers are informed and the information is presented in a way that is engaging to the new generation.

officials, industry leaders and farm business advisory groups. This board will guide us and make sure we’re reporting information that provides real value.

“We have seen great results with advisory boards in our other magazines. This ensures that our content takes into consideration all aspects of the topic we are covering. It also ensures a non-bias approach to content.” - Mike Dragosavich, Spotlight CEO and Publisher


6 ISSUES a year

Mailed to over 16,000 farmsteads per issue Mailed across the entire states of ND & MN 2,000 additional copies reserved for special rack distribution within ND & MN and specialty mailings 1,000 mailed to farming product companies and service companies

Jan/Feb Mar/Apr May/Jun

Jul/Aug Sep/Oct Nov/Dec


>> 19

Meet the CEO & Publisher

THANKS AND WELCOME My name is Mike Dragosavich and I care about engagement. My job at Spotlight since I founded it was to take a topic that I believe is needed and connect that topic — ­ in a positive light—to the people who matter. Even though I do not have a farming background, I understand that this magazine and it’s resources are needed. I am a business owner and I can relate to farms in that sense. That is what this magazine is about.

I want this magazine to be a resource and inform

biased advisors from different aspects of the

the new generation of agriculture business

farm business and rely on actual farmers for

men and women about the new technologies,

advice. I will build a team centered around

efficiencies and cultural changes that they can

the fact that we represent the hard working

capitalize on. In my business, we took a traditional

farmer and we take pride in that. I want this

media like print and used technology and new

publication to be a source of more profitability

resources to turn a business in a challenging

and smarter business techniques on the farm.

industry into a thriving one. I believe the

I also want to learn from the farm business to

similarities we have to farming is more than one

help my own. Together, I want us all to succeed

would think.

in business, whether it’s with dirt or paper.

Mike Dragosavich

MY GOAL My goal with this magazine is to represent our ambitious farming business owners through diligent research, engaging visuals, impactful information and sustainable resources. I will take into consideration the family dynamics, the government limitations, the uncontrollable situations and the communication barriers when developing this product. I will engage with non-

Send Me Your Feedback & Ideas! 20


JAN/FEB 2020

My Email >> drago@spotlightmediafargo.com

In Agriculture, Experience is the Key Input

Get more than a century of farm and ranch banking and lending know-how, right here.


SERVING YOU WITH QUALITY AND VALUE. DEDICATED TO HEAVY-DUTY SEMI/TRAILER REPAIR. 1. Wheel kits for 36 and 48-row planters 2. Eliminates wheel studs breaking 3. Adds flotation 4. We also have re-built hubs in stock

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Bio I've been a writer my whole life. Since I could hold a pencil, I’ve been writing short stories and sharing them with family and friends. I even produced a short newspaper for my immediate family for a while.

I studied communications and journalism in college and was involved with the school newspaper. Professionally, I’ve worked in ag media for a few years and have recently moved to Fargo to expand my creative career and bring farmers the business magazine they deserve.

As a proud farmer’s daughter and a farmer myself, the most rewarding part of my job is providing quality content in a fresh way to hundreds of hardworking American farmers.



JAN/FEB 2020

Meet the Editor

DANNA SABOLIK My name is Danna Sabolik and I’m the editor of Future Farmer. I grew up on a dairy and crop farm in west central Minnesota, near Kensington. The love of ag is deep in my bones and I am so looking forward to sharing that passion through this magazine. I have a background in journalism and communications and have spent a few years in ag media, giving me insight of what farmers are looking for content-wise.

I believe in striving for excellence in everything, and helping other people succeed along the way. Because of my farming background, I have an understanding of farm business, as well as a genuine connection with farmers and other ag professionals.

Future Farmer is the magazine farmers want and need. It will be visually satisfying, easy to comprehend and packaged beautifully. Also, it will be pivotal to farmers' success in the coming years. With an increasingly growing population and changing culture, farmers are challenged more every day with how to maintain trust and transparency. Our magazine is the solution. We are for the progressive farmer. For the farmer with questions on how to do better. For the growing farmer. And, the generationally transitioning farmer. We are focused on providing the best content with resources, tools and real-life reviews of the latest ag tech as well as lifestyle solutions. By highlighting the noble work farmers do every day and relying on Spotlight’s magazine expertise, I’m confident this magazine is exactly what the farming community needs.

Send Me Your Feedback & Ideas!

My Email >> danna@spotlightmediafargo.com FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM

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WHAT'S NEXT What do you want to see in an agriculture magazine? We've decided on these topics with research and input of our soon-to-be revealed editorial advisory board members. If you have an idea, we'd love to hear it! Contact us at agriculture@spotlightmediafargo.com or 701-478-7768.



North Dakota and Minnesota are home to more than a dozen ag education institutions. We are going to highlight the future of ag and where efforts are being invested right now. Using our backyard, ag schools and students will be the highlight of this issue.



Failure is a part of life. No one gets out unscathed. We're highlighting the benefits of failure and how to bounce back when hope is dismal. In this issue we will be featuring real people who have failed, and claim it's one of their biggest assets.




JAN/FEB 2020


FIGURES OF AG BUSINESS & WOMEN IN AG Farming is a business like no other. Who are the faces of this world and what is their advice? Women also make up a large component of the ag sphere. We're looking to highlight these noble women and the work they do every day to feed the world.



How can farmers prepare for the most seamless harvest season? Monitoring market prices, watching the weather and other factors all play a role in a successful harvest season.

FARM PLANNING/FINANCES Preparing for the end of the year is always busy on the farm. By including farmers and finance managers in the conversations, we will present options for what farmers can do to make 2020 the best looking on paper.

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Grand An Update with the


>> JAN/FEB 2020


The Grand Farm, located east of Horace, N.D., was established with the goal of building the first fully autonomous farm by the year 2025.


> > 31

In March

of 2017... At a 1 Million Cups event in Fargo, Appareo Chairman of the Board and ag tech industry leader Barry Batcheller asked the audience, “What’s our major?”

After many previous conversations with Emerging Prairie Cofounder Greg Tehven, Batcheller challenged the Red River Valley to decide what it was decidedly good at. If Wall Street has finance and Silicon Valley has microchips, what was our “major” going to be?

BY | Andrew Jason

While the history of bonanza farms and our deep agrarian roots play an important role in declaring agricultural technology as our major, it also has deep roots in our business community. “What made us decide to declare a major in this area?” said Batcheller. “These activities that are ongoing around the area of mechanized agriculture have an epicenter here in Fargo. We have Case IH. We have John Deere Electronics. We are doing work with a company called AGCO. There are really three large agricultural companies in the United States: Case IH, John Deere and AGCO. Here in the NDSU Research and Technology Park, a substantial amount of the advanced technology that’s taking place electronically in agriculture is taking place within a mile of where you’re sitting right now.”



JAN/FEB 2020

But before you know where you’re going, you have to go back to where you came from.

Farming began about 10,000 years ago when society went from hunter-gatherers to an agricultural society. They first intentionally grew wheat, barley, peas and lentils instead of letting them grow wild. And that’s kind of how it stayed. Over the next thousands of years, farming didn’t change that dramatically. “In many ways, agriculture is the same as it was thousands of years ago,” said Batcheller. “If you were to go back to Mesopotamia, you’d find that the early agrarians would make a slit in the earth and put plants in there to grow. From that, you graduated to water buffalo and they’d drag a stick through the ground and then put seeds in it and it’d grow.” As the water buffalo demonstrated, over the millennia that followed, technology slowly shaped the way that farming is done. However, for the most part, ag tech didn’t transform that rapidly until everything changed in the late 1800s. North Dakota played a pivotal role in that change. At this time, two men by the name of George Cass and Benjamin Cheney, both railroad officials, purchased 13,000 acres of land in Casselton, N.D. According to the State Historical Society of North Dakota, they continued to expand their property until they owned more than 100,000 acres of farmland in North Dakota and Minnesota. This kicked off what


Batcheller Appareo Chairman

officially became known as "bonanza farms." These gigantic wheat farms were meant to create huge amounts of wealth for its owners. Because of its large size, these bonanza farms required countless men to work the fields, but alongside those men came advanced agriculture technology. The impact from the bonanza farms has had a lasting effect on the Red River Valley over the last 150 years. “Early on, the big bonanza farms encouraged people to attempt to use early means of mechanization to plant more land and to grow more crops,” said Batcheller. “Fast forward, we’re doing the same thing today. We’re planting more land, we’re highly mechanized.” Now, the Red River Valley and North Dakota as a whole are officially planting its stake in the ground as a continuing leader in ag tech with the launch of the Grand Farm, a push to create the first fully automated farm. It would be shortsighted to think of Grand Farm as just creating a fully automated farm. It’s about creating an ecosystem that will attract companies, workers and capital to North Dakota to become involved. Emerging Prairie, a Fargo non-profit that focuses



Emerging Prairie Executive Director



Emerging Prairie Director of Operations and Director of Grand Farm

on connecting and celebrating the entrepreneurial ecosystem, is spearheading this initiative. Emerging Prairie Director of Operations and Director of Grand Farm, Brian Carroll has carefully planned five components that go into the growth of Grand Farm: Ecosystem: With the help of local, regional and national partners, Grand Farm will encourage and facilitate community engagement and open source participation, and will raise awareness for agriculture and technology projects everywhere. Innovation: Identifying a model to increase support for new ventures, engage corporate partners, and create economic vibrancy for the state. Makerspace: Onsite spaces for creators, chemists, builders and entrepreneurs–including interactive educational (and fun) things to do for students interested in ag and technology. Accelerated Learning: All farms of the future will be dependent on technology, with farmers leading the way. Farmers and those developing such future technologies will be part of an education platform that is also part of Grand Farm. Emerging Prairie recently launched a software engineering school, Emerging Digital Academy, to support these technologies. Policy and Governance: Proactive thinking related to public policies that would support ideas similar to FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM

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Grand Farm (and the public spaces where future farms interact). Innovative thinking about the structure needed (and policies related to that structure) to create the conditions for future farms to exist.

begins to split. We encourage that in our business. We’re not asking our people to quit and start making new businesses. But, I think that it’s a very positive thing that people do.”

“When we thought about the Grand Farm, [we thought] this is in the future, this is what the future’s going to look like and there’s going to be a whole bunch of different change that’s going to have to happen to get to that point,” said Carroll. “We can either be participants in that change or that change can happen to us.” However, again—to know where you’re going, you have to go back to where you came from.

One of those success stories that came from another regional ag tech company is Appareo. Before founding Phoenix International in Fargo, Batcheller started out at Steiger Tractor. While there, he pioneered the development of electronics for John Deere until the company acquired Phoenix International and became John Deere Electronics. In 2003, Batcheller founded Appareo, a product development and technology company that specializes in agriculture and aerospace, and has a joint venture with AGCO.

Edward Gideon Melroe was a farmer in Gwinner, N.D., who was frustrated with the backbreaking labor that went into farming in the 1920s. He decided to take things into his own hands when he invented the windrow pickup. He eventually opened a factory in Gwinner to manufacture this invention. Fast-forward 30 years to 1957. Louis and Cyril Keller, brothers from Rothsay, Minn., invented a three-wheeled loader because they were tired of all the work that went into cleaning up the barn. The Keller brothers went into business with Melroe to produce the Melroe self-propelled loader, model M60. Fast-forward another 60 years and you now have Doosan Bobcat, an international company that’s one of the major players in ag tech. The examples go on. Steiger Tractor became Case IH. Phoenix International became John Deere Electronic Solutions. And on and on. As these companies became more successful, more offshoot businesses sprang from them and success begat success. It turns out this is the same way another well-known tech area began. “That domino effect of creating businesses that spawn other businesses is exactly what happened in Silicon Valley with the Fairchild company,” said Batcheller. “Fairchild begat Intel and so on. What happens when you get the critical mass of technical competence in an area, it begins to multiply. It


>> JAN/FEB 2020

“The more electronics companies we have, the more software companies we have, the more attractive it is to people outside of the area to come here and bring their families and they know they have mobility. That’s a big deal,” said Batcheller. “That’s a lot of what’s going on in New England and Silicon Valley. People are not concerned. They know that if they pack up and move to one of those areas, there are many opportunities for them to grow.” Grand Farm hopes to continue on the success of the past. However, it will also play a major role in the future of automation and work in general when it comes to agriculture.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Batcheller made the Grand Farm announcement, which was covered and shared in all 50 states and throughout Canada and Europe. This initial support has led to a flood of speaking requests, interview requests and other corporate, educational and government partnerships.

AUTOMATION AND WORK IN AGRICULTURE "When I was a kid, I saw a movie called Star Wars,” said Batcheller. “Luke Skywalker’s foster parents are called Mr. and Mrs. Lars. They were moisture farmers. When people think about automation, they probably think about the Lars family on Tatooine. That probably gives people an unsettling impression of where this could end up.” When people think of automation in agriculture, the first thought that comes to mind might be robots running around the field and barn, taking care of every aspect of farming. While that may be the truth someday, we are still a long way off from that becoming a reality. In fact, automation will simply continue the trend of what’s been happening over the last 50 years. “The truth of the matter is that the social structure of farming has changed substantially and will continue to change substantially,” said Batcheller. “It does not mean that there will not be a population that’s close to the earth who enjoys that lifestyle of farming. It will mean that the means by which they accomplish that will change.” The other thing that probably pops into people’s minds when you talk about automation is the replacement of jobs. In a state that had 15,122 open jobs in March 2019, according to Job Service ND, the simple fact is that there just aren't enough people to fill the jobs required, especially in farming, when the jobs are only for certain times of the year. “It turns out that the demand for ancillary labor happens in two parts of the year and during the rest of the year, there isn’t so much of a demand necessarily,” said Batcheller. “Historically, the social construct was that there were always people around to help. Families were larger. They had many children. There was a ready workforce of young people available during harvesting and planting.

The Farm of the Future So you’re probably wondering what exactly the future of farming will look like. Well, Batcheller has an idea. “Twenty-five to 50 years from now, if you are harvesting wheat, there will be grain carts on the field that will be fully autonomous. They will come alongside the harvesting machine. The harvesting machine will offload its content until it's tendered. The combines themselves will be incredibly smart. The grains that they are harvesting will be segregated. It will be able to segregate grains according to certain characteristics of the grains within the combine themselves and offload those grain characteristics to different tenders filtered by any number of parameters such as protein and things like that. “The tenders will then go to a staging area where the contents will be coupled to a Department of Transportation approved autonomous truck that will haul them back to the elevator or to the farm sites themselves. Current farming practices require that a large amount of time be expended in the logistics of moving crops after they’re harvested. That will be performed primarily by autonomous equipment 25-50 years from now.”


> > 35

On October 17, 2019, Microsoft announced a $1.5 million, three-year investment into Fargo’s Emerging Prairie to help build what Microsoft called the “farm of the future”—Emerging Prairie’s Grand Farm project.

“That’s not the case anymore. Farms are getting larger. Families are getting smaller. The capability of having a workforce of that nature at the right times is not viable anymore. Nevertheless, the demand for the goods and services produced by farms are there so you have to satisfy that. The way of doing that is by automation. It will replace periods of time where there is a temporary demand for labor with automation.”

“Farmers are currently required to spend large amounts of money to buy equipment,” said Batcheller. “Now, the equipment is very productive but it’s expensive. A new combine or tractor today is a many hundreds of thousands of dollars investments. The emerging technology trend is to move toward smaller machines. There will be more of those on the farm, but each machine will be less expensive.”

Automation will replace those unfilled jobs. Let’s look at harvesting as a good example of how automation can help solve a workforce problem.

Despite what you might think, this innovation won’t just favor the larger equipment manufacturers.

Normally, farmers will hire some seasonal employees to work 16-20 hour days to harvest all the crop. These workers need to eat, sleep and spend time with their families. However, now you can have a fully automated combine harvest a field 24 hours a day, creating increased productivity. That’s just one way that automation will help solve a problem.

“I believe the innovations in this area will start in smaller businesses. I think the larger businesses are going to wait. There are many things that concern them about this. To change over from the types of technologies that they are using today to future technology is not a trivial task for them.

This technology is still new and only being used by early adopters, but we are not that far away from when this technology will be adopted by the average farmer. The trend has been for combines and tractors to become bigger, but there will be a shift to smaller machines as they become more productive and efficient. This will hopefully affect the cost automated equipment.


>> JAN/FEB 2020

“What we’re trying to do with the Grand Farm is to create an impetus for these smaller businesses to create the next generation of products and to bring these products to the farm. We aren’t looking for this to take place at John Deere, Case IH and AGCO. They will ultimately, of course, be participants and build great equipment. But we think the vanguard of this will be smaller businesses that deploy and demonstrate the capability.”

Model by CHA Architecture + Construction

SOLVING GLOBAL PROBLEMS Right now, there are about 7.7 billion people on earth. By 2050, there is expected to be 10 billion people and every one of them must eat. However, the trend doesn’t just end with feeding that growing population. In the 1950s, Norman Borlaug and other scientists led what was called the Green Revolution. By focusing on new farming techniques, this revolution created a massive increase in yields around the world. Borlaug alone is often credited with saving a billion people from starvation. The hope of Grand Farm is that this ag tech ecosystem will put North Dakota on a global scale to help solve these growing problems. “We started looking at the Grand Farm as a potential to anchor on some really big problems that we could put some focus on solving,” said Carroll. “That’s where the accelerator and innovation platform started to come and the

accelerated learning model where we’re looking to bring in a code school and looking at ways we can do software design and UX design but eventually move it into embedded systems, hardware, robotics, internet of things, artificial intelligence and all those different things that would be required to do that.” It’s not just a global hunger crisis that farming will have to solve, it’s also environmental concerns. The concern of chemicals and GMOs have been well reported in the media. However, the truth is that without the increase in chemicals and genetically modified organisms, there wouldn’t be enough food to feed the population. Batcheller believes that there will be a push to increase the yields and productivity with mechanization. “There’s a growing concern across the world of what effect the use of chemicals will have on the resulting food products and how they make it into the human ecosystem,” said Batcheller. “As a result of that, machines of the future are going to be very, very careful about the amount and location of chemical application. In the old days, they used to come with beet crop workers who came out to the field and hoed the beets. There will be, in the


>> 37

future, extremely high speed machines that will go down these roads and mechanically weed the crops. That will really take the pressure off chemical application.” This push toward ag tech will put North Dakota on the same scale as some of the biggest thinkers in the world. One of Elon Musk’s (the eccentric founder of Tesla) companies is SpaceX. They are working on a project called Starlink that hopes to launch 12,000 satellites into orbit around the Earth that will provide internet to everywhere on the globe. “If you think telephones changed the world, what happens when every place on this planet – like the savanna in Africa – has access to very inexpensive gigabit data?” asked Batcheller. So, if you have to look back to see where we’re going, doesn’t it make sense that the region that helped shape agriculture continues to lead the way? “In my mind, the time is right for this type of stuff,” said Carroll. “There’s a great convergence that’s taking place. There’s a clear understanding of what the future looks like and I think it’s time


>> JAN/FEB 2020

for our region and North Dakota to be deeply engaged and involved in that process and be on the leading edge of it. We have the natural resources available. We have the talent. We have organizations. We have it in our DNA. This is a great opportunity for us to lead the world around it.”

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CHASE NELSON Chase Nelson is a farmer near Arthur, N.D. He's willing to adopt new technologies on the farm while staying true to his agrarian roots, traditions and values. We caught up with Nelson on where he thinks the future of agriculture is headed.


>> JAN/FEB 2020


BY: Danna Sabolik | PHOTO BY: Hillary Ehlen


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CHASE NELSON Seed Vendor: Arthur Companies

Crop Management Software: Climate Fieldview

Finance Management: Bremer Bank

Crop Marketing Software: Bushel App

Arthur, ND 6,500 acres

Tell us about your farm.

We raise 6,500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and aronia berries. My grandpa started renting our yard in the 1970s and through hard work was able to purchase the yard and some land. I’m the third generation to farm on our farm. Currently, I farm with my dad and brother-in-law. My wife and I also raise chickens on our farm!

What are your plans for your farm in the next year and the next five years?

2019 has been a challenging farming year. We were not able to do a lot of fieldwork on any of our land after the crop was harvested. Next year, we will be doing a lot of work to prep the land and get it ready for 2020 planting and harvesting. In five years, I would like to expand my personal acres by either purchasing or renting more land.



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Where do you see the future of ag-tech?

I'm a firm believer that automated farms are in the near future as one of the next major advances in ag-technology. I am really excited to potentially be one of the first generations to experience autonomy in the farming industry and potentially implement portions of it on our farm.

How do you stay up to date with happenings in the industry?

One of the greatest things about living in a small community is that local farmers take time to get together, usually over coffee, to discuss/ share happenings in the farming industry. I love the varying perspectives and experiences this time brings. I have also found that for young farmers, social media groups and pages are turning into a place to share concerns, ask questions and to learn from one another.

Photo by Elisabeth Eden

Don't get greedy. The markets can be a tough and unpredictable game - take everything one day at a time. What’s the most profitable choice you’ve made on your farm?

We do not have grain storage on our farm, so it is important to pay attention to marketing all year long. I've learned that at certain times during the year, the unpredictable markets have better times to sell than other times. Learning how to make smart decisions while marketing has been the most profitable choices for me as a young farmer.

Who is someone in the agriculture industry you look up to?

Someone in the agriculture industry that I look up to and learn from each day is my dad. For as long as I can remember, I have watched my dad work tirelessly in the fields throughout the year. My dad was the one to first teach me how to drive a tractor when I became interested in farming at a young age. As I've grown older and become more involved in our family farm and managing my own crops, my dad continues to teach me every day about the ins-and-outs and important background work that goes into the day-to-day operations of a farm. I am thankful that I get to work with and learn from my dad each day.


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What is a management practice you’ve changed in the past year that has benefited your farm? In the past year, we have used different aspects of ag-technology to help make our farm more successful and to make better decisions for our business. We are now using Climate Field View and it has allowed us to save money based solely on the data we have collected and built while using the program. For example, we have used data and maps from our previous harvests to implement successful variable rate applications. Variable-rate applications help us to save on costs. We have found this to be most helpful when applying fertilizer to our land. Now, with the data we have built up in the program, we are able to see exactly what portions of the land need more or less fertilizer application. This management practice has allowed our farm to cut costs and ultimately save money.

What is one piece of ag-tech you would recommend to other farmers?

What do you like to do other than farming?

What resources do you take advantage of that are offered by the state?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

By far one of the most used pieces of agtechnology on our farm is the Bushel app. We use this app to view updated future marketing prices, view our grain contracts at the local elevator, view our scale tickets in real-time and view notifications and updates from our local elevator - including their hours, market updates, discounts, etc.

Over the past years, my grandpa and dad took advantage of CRP programs. Recently, we have used soil conservation for a number of projects. Four years ago we started growing Aronia Berries on our farm. We utilized soil conservation to plant 30,000 Aronia bushes for us.



JAN/FEB 2020

I have learned that farming is a profession that could easily take over most of your life and free-time; because of this, I have always made a conscious decision to set aside time to spend with the people I love and to do things—outside of farming—that bring me joy. I love to hunt, spend time at the lake, travel with my wife, grill, run and spend time with my growing family.

When I was quite young, we had a career dress-up day at school. I remember very clearly dressing up as a lawyer and carrying a briefcase around the school for the day. As I got older, I quickly learned that indoor office work was not what fit me best. After spending time with my grandpa and dad on the farm, I knew that farming was something I would be doing and loving for the rest of my life.

Last year we had our first Aronia Berry Harvest Festival!

“I've mentioned in some of the other questions that we grow Aronia Berries. Last year we had our first Aronia Berry Harvest festival which attracted about 2,000 people! We are excited to do this annually. The Aronia Berry Harvest festival will be sometime in midSeptember 2020.”

Founded in Fargo, N.D. in 2017, ax-water is an all-natural, Americanmade, health and wellness beverage. Harnessing the power of the aronia berry, ax-water is the brainchild of Blake Johnson and Wade Gronwold. Made from all natural ingredients, and containing only 30 calories, axwater packs all the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of the aronia berry into 16 oz. Learn more at drinkaxwater.com


>> 49


No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation By Michele Payn-Knoper Food fights might seem entertaining, but there's nothing funny about the fight staking 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.



JAN/FEB 2020

The Farmer's Office: Tools, Tips and Templates to Successfully Manage a Growing Farm Business By Julia Shanks A practical, how-to guide for farmers who want to achieve and maintain financial sustainability in their businesses 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.

Food 5.0: How We Feed The Future By Robert D. Saik 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 30 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.

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. In this book, Timothy Egan brings to light this chapter of American history from the shadows. 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. After a few years of historic weather in the midwest, this book is one many regional farmers can relate to and find hope in.


A Soil Owner's Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health

By Jon Stika 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.


>> 51

In 2019, Spotlight published two ag-focused issues of their Fargo-centered business magazine, Fargo INC! We spoke with more than 50 influencers, experts and specialists on the state of agriculture and where the future of farming lies. Both magazines were some of the best-received publications Spotlight has distributed. Pulling from articles written in those two issues, we've compiled a list of some stand-outs...





JAN/FEB 2020



>> Farm Profitability According to the USDA’s Farm Income Forecast, the net farm income, which is a broad measure of profits, is forecast to increase $4 billion (4.8 percent) to $88 billion this year. However, at the

same time, total production expenses, including operator dwelling expenses, are forecast to increase $1.5 billion (.4 percent) to $346.1 billion.

Dollars (nominal) 90,000













Median farm income

Median off-farm income

Median total income

Why Do Farmers Exist? Peterson: We spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that, on the very basic level, why do farmers exist? Farmers exist to feed people, right? Sometimes you get down in the weeds and think, “I’m just doing this routine stuff.” But no, we’re part of a system that feeds the world. We have to be able to feed all of those people. And not just people in Fargo. We need to grow this food cheap enough that the poorest people in the world can afford to feed their families as well.

Read the full "The Future of Farming Roundtable Discussion" article at futurefarmermag.com.



JAN/FEB 2020

Carl Peterson Peterson Farms Seeds petersonfarmsseed.com




bout 25 years, a man named Lanny Faleide from Maddock, N.D., saw a change coming in field mapping. He built software to create variablerate maps using satellite imagery to analyze fields to save money on chemical, seed and fertilizers. Since that humble beginning, Satshot has

become a leader in the remote sensing industry, has a presence on every continent and now hosts well over 20 million acres worth of field boundaries in its system. After being in the ag tech industry for almost three decades, Faleide shared with us what he has learned and how this software works.

Satshot At Work This image analysis is done using Satshot's technology of Grand Farm's actual 40-acres of farmland off I-29 in Horace, N.D. It shows a high-resolution satellite at 1.5-meter resolution. This analysis shows different vegetation levels of crop growth. Green/light green is the best vegetation, yellow/gold is average and reds/blues are poor vegetation densities. The area in the middle of the field with all the reds and blues show the effects of piling dirt from the past construction of the nearby road intersection. In a regular field analysis, these vegetation zones represent areas that can be variable rate seeded, fertilized or sprayed based on the productive areas of the field for more efficient farming practices.

Learn more about Satshot at satshot.com

Read the full "The Current State of Ag-Tech" article at futurefarmermag.com.


>> 55




any people may think of automation as a concept that’s still 1020 years away. However, DOT, a technology corporation, might be the best real-life example of automation in agriculture today. Leah Olson, the CEO of SeedMaster and DOT, along with her companies, are playing a crucial role in the future of automation in agriculture. Headquartered in Saskatchewan, Canada, Olson took some time to answer some questions about what DOT means for the industry.



JAN/FEB 2020

About DOT Founded by Norbert Beaujot, a farmer and professional engineer, DOT Technology Corp. has built powered U-shaped frames that are built to provide a path for shortline manufacturers to fast track their transition into autonomous farming by offering them the opportunity to engineer their equipment to be DOT-ready. The DOT ready implement can then be loaded directly onto the U-shaped frame to become one with the powered platform. Seedotrun.com has some great videos showcasing it in action.

LEAH OLSON CEO of SeedMaster and DOT

This technology is great but it’s going to be useless unless the end user, which is the farmer, in this case, can afford it. How far out are we from this being affordable and mainstream? When placed head-to-head with a tractor, the A-U1 platform has been priced competitively. The cost savings is proven by the significant downscaling in power required for the unit, implement size and materials needed. Farmers who are considering making the transition to autonomous farming will also experience the savings that come from the continuous development of DOT’s artificial intelligence capabilities. As DOT becomes capable of making similar decisions to that of a farmer in the field, there is less of a need for supervision and the associated labor costs. DOT reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates efficiencies such as approximately 20 percent savings on fuel, labor and equipment capital costs, resulting in a reimagination of how farming is and can be done.

How it works 1. DOT has a variety of manufacturers that it works with to produce equipment that’s compatible with DOT. Right now, DOT can operate as a spin spreader, sprayer or air seeder. 2. Once DOT is connected with the equipment, the farmer then uses a computer program to generate a path for each field. 3. Once the path is farmer approved, DOT will then autonomously complete that path. 4. If there are any concerns, DOT will automatically stop. DOT can also be stopped via tablet, remote control or a separate remote e-stop.

Additionally, the DOT-ready implements offered by other short line manufacturers will be less expensive (without sacrificing quality) by virtue of their design; being carried instead of towed. This removes the added costs of extra steel, hitches, wheels, axles and miscellaneous parts required to tow an implement. With the continual growth in short line manufacturers offering DOY-ready implements, farmers can perform more on-farm activities autonomously and continue to realize savings in equipment investments and labor costs on their farms.

Read the full " How DOT is Leading the Way in Automation In Agriculture" article at futurefarmermag.com.


> > 57

5 TECH SPARK From Microsoft

Since Microsoft purchased Great Plains Software in 2001, the tech giant has had a major presence in North Dakota. Now one of the largest employers in Fargo is working with farmers on how its technologies can be a platform for agriculture. We caught up with Taya Spelhaug, Microsoft’s Tech Spark North Dakota Manager, about the work they’re doing with ag tech. Q: What is Microsoft's vision for agriculture? A: Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, so our work is really about building the tools that can make others more successful in what they are trying to achieve. That is our vision for digital transformation taking part across our economy, where our customers' success is how we measure our success. That includes the transformation taking place in agriculture and how modern farms are harnessing technology to increase crop yields and improve how land is sustainably used. FarmBeats is an example of the potential for precision agriculture where we are providing farmers with access to Microsoft cloud and AI technologies, enabling data-driven decisions to help improve agricultural yield, lower overall costs and reduce the environmental impact of production. When Microsoft and FFA announced our Blue 365 partnership bringing technology, science, research and entrepreneurship programming to more than 650,000 FFA student members nationwide, Fargo was a natural choice because of the agriculture innovation happening here in North Dakota.

Read the full " How Microsoft is Enabling Ag Tech" article at futurefarmermag.com.



JAN/FEB 2020

Q: Agriculture is undergoing a massive cultural shift as the new generation is taking over farming from the previous ones. What possibilities does this open up for innovation? A: The next generation of ag leaders has grown up with technology as part of their lives so they also see the promise it can offer, including on the farm. Microsoft has been working with youth programs like National 4-H and FFA to help students get access to cutting edge technology education and skills opportunities, including here in North Dakota. In its first year, the program was active in Cass County here in North Dakota, as well as five other counties in rural states. We are also partnering with 4-H’s Tech Changemakers program to empower students with technology to improve their communities. We’re also supporting FFA’s Blue 365 Challenge so students can learn about precision agriculture and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Not only does that bring a real learning opportunity through curricula to 650,000 of FFA’s student members nationwide, it also sparks deeper interest for students to get hands-on with their own ag innovation. In my hometown of Kindred, the FFA chapter students competed to win one of 50 FarmBeats student kits in a national competition and won, and that really hammers home the potential for innovation happening here in our own backyard.

FarmBeats As Spelhaug states, The FarmBeats Project is Microsoft working with farmers to enable data-driven farming. Some of the research that they're working with include... • Techniques to merge drone imagery with ground sensor data • TV White Spaces based long range sensor networks in the farms • Automation of drone flights in the farms • Improving drone battery life • An IoT gateway device for Agriculture • Cloud support and ML services that are useful for agriculture


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Nathan Faleide (left) and his dad Lanny at Grand Farm's location south of Fargo.


Read the full "How Bobcat Company Has Led The Way For Ag Tech In North Dakota" article at futurefarmermag.com.

The State of Land in ND and MN $5,652 200 sales

North Dakota • 48 upcoming auctions • 200 active listings • Avg price: $5,652/acre

$4,501 867 sales $5,467 1,188 sales

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$4,558 1,280 sales


$6,222 3,241 sales

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Minnesota • 53 upcoming auctions • 867 active listings • Avg price: $4,501/acre

What this means “If you’re an active buyer in the market, there’s land available. What we’re currently seeing is less overall auctions than there was at this time last year but quite a bit more listings and private sales occurring. This would lead me to believe that public transactions aren’t bringing the prices that sellers are hoping so they’re turning to private markets to discretely sell their land and get the value they’re looking for.” Steven Brockshus Farmland Finder founder and CEO

Read the full "This Website Is Making Buying Farmland Easier" article at futurefarmermag.com. 60


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Earlier this year, Doosan Bobcat announced that they are opening a digital business innovation center in the newly remodeled Black Building in Downtown Fargo. This 11,000-square-foot space will feature project team rooms, innovation areas, project pitch areas and much more, all designed to be the facility to do rapid prototyping and ideation around ideas for innovation and their digital business. “This is going to be our facility to do rapid prototyping, rapid ideation around ideas around innovation and digital business to be able to very quickly develop those ideas, vet those out to customers and then to find out whether they fit,” said Joel Honeyman, VP of Global Innovation at Doosan Bobcat. “This is a cross-functional development center. There will be many tools to enable development. The facility itself serves as a tool to enable collaboration and development

differently than a corporate headquarters can, for example. The location was also a strategic decision. The Black Building was originally constructed in 1930 and is being remodeled by Kilbourne Group, a developer in Fargo responsible for a lot of the revitalization of Downtown Fargo. “We looked at a number of different sites within Fargo,” said Honeyman. “When we looked at other facilities in Fargo, downtown became very advantageous because there are other players down there and because of the vibrancy of downtown Fargo. Downtown Fargo, for this area, is a really unique place. For us to attract new employees and for us to show we’re really working on new technologies in these areas, we felt it was important to have this kind of facility in Downtown to enable that.

FROM SEED TO H ARVE ST We’re here for all stages of growth Contact Jim or Mac for your Ag Lending needs

Doosan Bobcat expects to begin operating out of the Black Building by October 1, 2020.

8 Technology will be one of the enablers that can keep the family farm alive. Even in my dad’s case, it’s a struggle to find the help he needs, getting the information and making decisions. We’re affected by world economics. Technology is probably one of the only things that can help the family farm survive.” - Ryan Raguse, Co-founder - Bushel

Read the full "The Future of Farming Roundtable Discussion" article at futurefarmermag.com.

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


North Dakota Ag and Automation with

ED SCHAFER Q: In your time as governor or as Secretary of Agriculture what discussions were being had about automation and where it's going in agriculture? A: Technology innovation has come to agriculture for hundreds of years. We went from people poking sticks in the ground to having animals pull equipment. Then you had the steam tractor and then a diesel tractor. You have had this progression of technological innovation from day one in farming. When I was in the governor's office, we were starting to see auto steer. It was infrared auto steer. GPS capacity wasn't accurate enough to do it, but you could put a laser down your field and run a tractor down there for straight lines. My father-in-law was known for his straight rows, but he did it by steering. His son now gets auto steer out on the farm and you're not making straight rows anymore. You're sitting in the cab while the tractor is running straight and you're trading future deliveries with your broker or with your elevator while you're sitting there. Think about how the change from seeding, which is plowing a row in the round, a furrow and dropping seeds in it versus the air seeder, which they developed with the Concord to be precisely putting seeds in. You get better growth. That's automation and that has been from day one. Technology has been an ongoing event and an ongoing motivation in agriculture from as far back as you could think. When I was there, I thought, "This infrared auto-steer is the wave of the future."

I get to Washington, DC a few years later and it's all GPS steering. There's been a constant trail of motivation in technology in the agriculture sector and it's exciting people and becoming really important because we are seeing decreased yields around the world because we have less tillable land for industrialization and poorer water management. The growing conditions are getting worse. We have a growing population. We need to increase our nutrition in our food production. We’re going to do it through mechanization. Q: With automation, the first thing I'm sure most people think of is, "There goes my job. I'm being replaced." Looking under the guise that one of North Dakota's biggest problems is workforce shortage, tell us why automation actually might not be a bad thing for the average person in the state. A: I think society has always been shaped by new technology. When I was in high school and computers were coming, it was like, “We're all going to lose our jobs.” Then we go to a paperless society and everybody's like, "How are we going to manage that?" We always have this constant change and change is hard and difficult. We see a large expansion of geography with a low population having autonomous vehicles to be able to produce.


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As it changes, more production is going to be done not only by technology but by artificial intelligence. As that changes, jobs are going to be different and we need to make sure that we keep generating a society of acceptance and understanding and use of that new technology instead of just saying, "Oh my gosh, I'm not going to have a job. It's going to be awful." We can create value in human beings productivity in ways that are totally different from the way it is now.

You will not expect me to say this, but I'm excited about the opportunity in rural America. Sixty million people live in rural America and more people want to live in rural America."

Read the full " North Dakota’s Number One Export: Agricultural Methods" article at futurefarmermag.com.


The difficulty is the closing of your small town. We have seen, public policy say "We're going to have Conservation Reserve Program," and one ramification is farmers can head off to Arizona with a big bank account and get paid not to farm. Small communities died and you didn't have farm workers. As we have consolidated acreage, you don't have as many farm workers. We've been on this constant march to be able to produce more with less. As we produce more with less, automation's the next step. The biggest thing that we have to face from a social and cultural standpoint is that we have to figure out how to create value to human beings who aren't going to have the kind of jobs that we have today or that we think we should have. It's going to change.

Former North Dakota governor and Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer has served North Dakota and agriculture his entire life. While officially out of the political spotlight, he remains actively involved in promoting business and agriculture








10 AG Benefits from the North Dakota Department of Commerce Eric Hardmeyer President and Chief Executive Office Bank of North Dakota

One-hundred years ago, a man by the name of A.C. Townley, a former politician with the Socialist Party, organized the NonPartisan League in hopes of forming a farm organization to protect the social and economic position of the farmer. That Non-Partisan League gained control of the Governor’s office and established the Bank of North Dakota, the only state bank in the country, on July 28, 1919. Today, Eric Hardmeyer, President and Chief Executive Officer, and the team at Bank of North Dakota is still fulfilling its mission to “deliver quality, sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota.” As part of the Steering Committee for Grand Farm, Hardmeyer and BND are playing an integral role in the future of agriculture in the state.

You have the chance to reach almost every business and farm in North Dakota. What’s your message to them about how you can help them and their goals? I should say that the real partner with the Bank of North Dakota and the large part of our success is the community banks across the state working with us in deliver our programs. The ability to use the bank and our ability to leverage with the community banks make this a win-win that entrepreneurs all need banking services. There are a couple bills still working its way through the legislature that allows for university system research or private research to really advance North Dakota’s economy. Our view on that is that both of those approaches are important. They’re important because, as I’ve talked about, it’s imperative, and most people understand this, that North Dakota needs to really look at diversifying our economy. When you get married to agriculture and energy, you’re really subject to commodity prices up and down and they really can play havoc with your revenue. We’ll all come to appreciate that a strong diversified economy is really what the state of North Dakota needs to work on. I think research dollars going to the universities and private sector are all very important things in our journey to get there. It’s been a journey that I’m familiar with. I’ve been here at the bank for almost 35 years and have experienced much of this myself. I really realize how important it is for North Dakota to commit itself to diversify our economy. This includes adding value to those major industries, including agriculture and energy. Instead of being commodity based, if we can go down or up the value chain and create more revenue by having vertical integration, that’s what we need to do there.

Read the full " How America’s Only State Bank Is Helping Grow Ag Tech article at futurefarmermag.com.



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Why Ag Is So Important


* Stats from the Census of Agriculture by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

North Dakota

29,900 total farms in North Dakota

50 farmer’s markets

$10.9 billion economic impact to the state

North Dakota ranks first in the nation for spring wheat, durum, flax, canola, honey, pulse crops and more

In 2016, soybeans ranked as the top crop in value for the production for the state, bringing in $2.2 billion

Corn ranked second at $1.6 billion

The state is home to 1.86 million head of cattle and calves

984,500 beef cattle

15,500 milk cows

Tens of thousands of piglets

147,000 head of market hogs

70,000 head of sheep and lambs

More than 670,000 honey bee colonies

North Dakota shipped $4.5 billion domestic agricultural exports abroad in 2016

12 Q: There are some bills going through the legislature that would fund some research. Why is that important for a vibrant economy? A: Our state historically benefited and suffered by being a bimodal economy based on two commodities. Any economist will tell you that’s a very fragile economic base. We just experienced that four years ago when both those commodity groups tanked in terms of price. For North Dakota to be a contemporary and successful state, we’ve got to diversify the economy. One of the places we can do it, ironically, that complements one of those commodity industries would be the UAS zone, smart farming zone and things like that. Those are applications that can serve, in a sense, as a pilot for more applied use of UAS technologies and related technologies, whether it’s GPS or anything down to microelectronics. We have a chance to diversify an economy with an emerging industry that complements existing industries. It’s kind of a perfect alignment of the stars. We’re very fortunate to have two research universities, NDSU and UND, that can be a backbone to that ... and combine the power of two universities that would support what would otherwise perhaps be too grand of a vision and make it something that’s really achievable.

President Bresciani

Dean Bresciani has been the president of NDSU since 2010. Bresciani is well known for his dedication to students and regarded for his thoughtfulness, energy and integrity. He brings to campus the knowledge and experience of a more than 35-year career, and has developed broad leadership in the academic, administrative and political aspects of higher education. Read the full "How NDSU Is A 21st Century Research Leader" article at futurefarmermag.com.



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13 Fast Fact

Jeanne Crain President and CEO Bremer Bank

$25 billion in global farm funds has been raised as private equity since 2007.

Living our dedication to innovation and our agriculture customers, we established a corporate partnership with startup accelerator Plug and Play in 2018, accelerating ag tech on behalf of our region. As the nation’s 11th largest ag lender, our participation with Plug and Play has included working with entrepreneurs to refine their offerings and go-tomarket strategies, helping to identify technologies that could be beneficial for our farmers and supporting startups that have the strongest potential to help those farmers succeed. In fact, Bremer Bank is the first and only financial services organization in Plug and Play’s foodtech space.

Fast Fact In order to feed the expected global population of 10 billion in 2050, farmers will need to produce more food than they have in the last 250 years combined. The amount of arable land in the U.S. is decreasing, which means the value of farmland will increase.

Read the full "The Right Time, Place and Partners: North Dakota and Ag Tech Are A Perfect Pair" article at futurefarmermag.com.

Annual Financings in the agrifood industry


According to AgFunder, funding to agrifood tech startups grew 43 percent year-over-year to 2018, the same rate of growth between 2016 and 2017.


$11.8B $8.5B




$5.4B $2.6B








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SENETOR HOEVEN ON AG TECH "Automation is happening in so many ways and big ways, whether you look at energy or technology. This means more energy, better environmental stewardship and lower costs. It’s the same thing with agriculture. We’re driving precision ag in so many ways. Everything from GPS and having the equipment communicate whether you’re planting, fertilizing or anything else. Or look at what we’re doing with unmanned aviation. We are a global leader. That ties back to energy and agriculture as well, but it ties to all these other uses, including military applications, customs and border protection and almost everything we do."

Q: You’re advocating for tech entrepreneurship as the third wave for our state’s economy. Talk about why that’s the right move for our state. A: We’ve always been a leader in ag and there’s no question about it. We’re leading the way in agriculture nationally and internationally. And now in energy too. We’re an energy powerhouse for this nation and not just in oil and gas but all different kinds of energy, both traditional and renewable. I see the third leg on that stool as technology and specifically tech entrepreneurship. These young companies are full of young entrepreneurs with innovative and creative people who are utilizing technology to overcome the barriers of distance. They’re not only applying it to our top two industries, ag and energy, but in so many different ways. It leverages all of our strengths: our incredible work ethic and great education. Our distance from some of the major metropolitan markets is not an issue when you’re talking technology. It’s a natural force and we’re on our way.



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Q: We’re hearing a lot about the legacy of these companies that have been here like Ed Melroe with Bobcat. Talk about the legacy of ag tech in the culture of our state and the role it plays in our state. A: When you talk about agriculture, it’s that we’re the leader in innovation, precision agriculture and all the things that are coming. No one is more high tech than our farmers. When you look at some of the folks like Barry Batcheller who’s now one of the drivers behind the Grand Farm initiative, he’s somebody who’s been driving ag technology development his whole life, whether you want to go back to Steiger Tractor, Phoenix International, which is now John Deere Electronic Solutions and makes all the electronic controls for John Deere equipment globally and now, of course, with Appareo. It’s just a great example of somebody who has combined technology and agriculture his whole life.

Read the full "How Ag Tech Can Make North Dakota Stronger" article at futurefarmermag.com.



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The President and CEO of Amity Technology, Dahl followed in the path of his grandfather and entered into the ag tech field. After graduating with a B.S. degree in business administration from UND, he received an M.A. in philosophy of religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 1977, with his brother Brian, he started Concord Inc. and became the leading manufacturer of air drills. In 1996, Concord, Inc. was sold to Case Corporation. After selling Concord, he started Amity Technology, which produces sugar beet harvesters, defoliators and beet carts. amitytech.com



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n 1991, Geoffrey Moore wrote a book called “Crossing the Chasm� that changed the way tech entrepreneurs look at the way technology is adopted by the public. This book expounded on the idea that, in terms of consumers, marketers often break them up into five different categories: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards.

17 Howard Dahl – the founder of Amity Technology and the grandson of E. G. Melroe, the founder of the Melroe Company, which developed the Bobcat Loader – might have a better way of classifying these consumers. “There are three types of people,” said Dahl. “Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who say, ‘What happened?’” In “Crossing the Chasm,” Moore went into detail about how the toughest transition to make is going from early adopters to early majority. When you apply this concept to the full adoption of automation in agriculture, this model still holds up. As the technology becomes more mainstream, so too will the use of the equipment. Right now, Dahl believes that we are in the innovators phase of this technology adoption. “The innovators are, at the most, two-three percent of the population of any industry,” said Dahl. “They’re the ones who say, ‘I want to be the first to do this.’ You have to have innovators to try various things. There will be bugs but they have to be patient with the things that are going to work out.” Consumer demand has to be there before anything can go mainstream. However, Dahl and Amity Technology has shown that the demand is there from farmers for automation in agriculture. “We had about 20 key sugar beet farmers in for a focus group for a day and on their wish list was an autonomous sugar beet defoliator and sugar beet cart,” said Dahl. “They see the farmer running in his harvester but then the other two machines are running autonomously. That was their wish list.” Dahl says that autonomous grain carts are very close and that we’re only four or five years from seeing significant growth in this field.

Read the full "What Howard Dahl Thinks Of Adoption Of Automation In Agriculture" article at futurefarmermag.com.

Startups highlights from 1.

These are three startups that Plug and Play is investing in that Shuang Qiu, Plug and Play investor, believes consumers should watch out for.

KETOS ketos.co KETOS sits at the intersection of data science, IoT and water automation. KETOS serves an array of industrial and agricultural enterprises, commercial businesses, institutions, cities and utilities, empowering them to make smarter decisions through real-time water intelligence and predictive analytics. Our innovative, patented hardware and intelligent, interactive KETOS SmartFabric provides a robust software platform for predictive and actionable metrics - delivering the tools and insights needed to optimize water usage, ensure resource sustainability and provide water safety assurance.


AgVend agvend.com AgVend is an online marketplace that enables farmers to purchase inputs and services from trusted ag retailers. Similar to a travel marketplace like Priceline, farmers can search for products, filter results (based on price, delivery, bundled services, etc.) and select the option that best fits their needs. AgVend enables transactions to happen anywhere and at anytime.


Beehero beehero.io BeeHero maximizes crop yields through pollination. The company’s technology combines sophisticated machine learning algorithms with low-cost sensors to stimulate full output potential during peak pollination cycles. By tracking and optimizing pollination in real-time, BeeHero ensures hyperefficient pollinators that can increase crop yields by 30 percent on average. Beehero’s platform already enables commercial growers to optimize crop-yield for 70 percent of major commercial crops and they’ve even had tested on soybean!

About Plug and Play Plug and Play is an international innovation platform and accelerator that has locations in places like Jakarta, Guadalajara, Berlin and Zhengzhou, China. They are opening a location in Fargo geared specifically for ag tech. As the largest innovation platform in the world, they connect technology startups and the world’s largest corporations. Bremer Bank established a corporate partnership with them in 2018 and this means that Bremer is at the table with new, innovative businesses at the forefront of industry technology. Bremer also hopes to identify new technologies that could prove beneficial to farmers and to support those startups. If you want to learn more about them and how you can get involved in the Fargo location, go to plugandplaytechcenter. com.

Read the full "7 Reasons You Need To Care Why Plug And Play May Come To North Dakota" article at futurefarmermag.com. FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM

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18 5 Reasons We Need to


Joel Harris Co-director, Ag Startup Engine agstartupengine.com Joel Harris is the Co-director of the Ag Startup Engine, an early seed midwest investment fund focused on narrowing the gap between ideation and venture backing in the agriculture and animal health industries. He is also the Business Development Manager for IrishAngels Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in high potential B2B and B2C technology startups. As President of Charter Oak Creative, he focuses on helping startups and entrepreneurs solve problems. Formally, he was the VP of Harrisvaccines, which was acquired by Merck Animal Health in November 2015. Joel participates in several advisories and mentoring roles to entrepreneurs and startups in the SaaS, agtech, Biotech and Healthcare industries from his home in Chicago. Joel holds a degree in economics from the University of Iowa and a professional certificate in public relations, marketing and non-fiction writing from Northwestern University.


Climate Change

Whatever you want to call it. It is happening. I’m not talking about Cleantech or Green Plans to combat Climate Change but to lean into climate change. The warming climate is already allowing crops like Canadian corn and UK winegrapes to be grown in more frigid areas. It is going to take a combination of new, innovative technology and sustainable practices. “The Fate of Food” by Amanda Little is a great read that doesn’t put sustainable practices versus technology but shows a blending of practices that will paint a starkly different and hopeful view of the food supply chain.


The 5G Cold War in China

5G promises to be 100 times faster than 4G, bring loads more data and tackle the latency issue. This will truly bring highspeed access to rural areas, which means more devices can talk to each other faster. Think about hundreds of remote sensors in a pig barn to identify potential breakdowns in biosecurity, production performance or actually count the number of pigs in a pen… in real-time. But will the adoption of new technology and business models happen in the US like it did when 4G was introduced or will it be in China? This quote from a white paper called “The 5G Ecosystem” from the Defense Innovation Board paints a clear picture of what might happen. “As 5G is deployed across the globe, China’s handset and internet applications and services are likely to become dominant, even if they are excluded from the US. China is on a track to repeat in 5G what happened with the United States in 4G.” In fact, the USDA even estimates that deployment of both broadband e-connectivity and next-generation precision agriculture technology on farms and ranches throughout the U.S. could result in at least $47 billion in national economic benefits every year. This is why we can’t wait around for 5G to come to rural communities and we need to solve the connectivity problem, and the Cold War with China could drive that.



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Zoonotic Foreign Animal Disease Threats

African Swine Fever Virus (ASFv) may be grabbing the headlines today for decreasing China’s production by 50 percent, but what will be next and when? Will it be another outbreak of Avian Influenza? In 2015, over 40 million birds in 15 U.S. states had to be destroyed. The initial losses in the first outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) were eight million piglets. Prior to PEDv and ASFv, Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV), which can decimate the swine and cattle industry, was estimated to have an annual impact between $6 and $21 billion, and that was in 2013. My point being, while investors may not like the rapid growth and predictable regulatory environment of animal health biotech, it is a huge and ever-present threat that won’t be going away any time soon.


Moore's Law

Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit double about every two years, also applies in other sectors like storage of data in DNA. By 2020, an estimated 1.7 megabytes of data will be created per second, per person globally. I reference Moore’s Law and the application in transistors and loosely apply it in the sense that the cost of Next Generation Sequence (NGS) has exponentially decreased in the last 20 years. And what we’re able to do with gene editing is getting to the point that some companies provide DIY home CRISPR Kits.


Global Impact

If you do it right, you get to live in the best places on earth and you can innovate from anywhere. Because food and agriculture have such a global impact, the usual innovation and investment hubs see their fair share, but there is also great startup communities in places like the Midwest U.S, Australia, Israel and especially in Asia. So while the traditional non agtech investors want to get into the space, they may not be geographically located where the startups, customers, supply chain and academia reside. This is what has been so great about the Ag Startup Engine PortCos (Portfolio Companies) and what we’re trying to build in the heart of Iowa and the Midwest, which is solving the gap between ideation and preparedness for true institution venture capital investment.

Intelligent Ag's Joe Heilman



ith products like flow monitoring solutions for air seeders and dry fertilizer applicators along with several new products in the works, Intelligent Ag is creating equipment to maximize the efficiency of farmers' operations. This joint venture between AGCO Corporation and Appareo has quickly been growing over the last couple years. With automation rapidly becoming mainstream, we talked with General Manager Joe Heilman about the current status of automation in agriculture and why North Dakota is the right spot for Grand Farm.

Q: In order for automation in agriculture to be mainstream, it needs to be affordable. How far away are we from automation being mainstream and fully embraced by farmers? A: Affordability is not really the key word. I would rephrase it slightly to say “in order for automation in ag to be mainstream, it needs to provide value that essentially outweighs the cost.” In many cases, automation is already mainstream, it just isn’t completely and fully automated. Auto-steer, for example, is a widespread technology that automates parts of the operation very reliably. It had a fairly slow uptake initially, but as costs came down and more value was shown by the tech, it is a standard piece of technology on virtually all tractors today. The industry is already automating many key areas of the operation. Many combines are self-adjusting now, something that only expert/experienced operators were able to do adequately throughout the day. With labor shortages, particularly with the skills to do this job well, combine harvesters with the ability to take ANY operator and help them perform like experts is a huge value to a farm owner or manager. I believe farmers are already embracing automation in certain areas, and will

continue to embrace it more and more. We won’t just “flip a switch,” though, and everything will be completely autonomous. We need to develop the sensors, self-awareness systems, artificial intelligence systems, etc...in stepwise fashion. These technologies are not likely to come in one big package all at once, but rather in smaller, iterative solutions over time. That’s where companies like ours are finding success. Q: What products are you working on now that you’re excited to see launched? A: I can’t speak about too many of our future products specifically. This is our first year in full-production of a product line we call “Recon SpreadSense®.” This is a blockage and flow monitoring product for boom style fertilizer applicators. These machines are HIGHLY utilized (often covering 20,000-30,000+ acres per year) and performance is very important. You can learn more at intelligentag.com/products/1504/ spreadsense. We are currently developing more technologies in the fertilizer application segment, as well as other areas.

Read the full "Where Are We Right Now With Automation?" article at futurefarmermag.com.



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About Heilman Joe Heilman grew up on a farm near Rugby, N.D. and then went to North Dakota State University where he graduated with degrees in Business Administration and Accounting in 2009. He then served in the ND State House of Representatives before being named the General Manager for Intelligent Ag

Buying & Selling

Steven Brockshus Farmland Finder Founder and CEO farmlandfinder.com

As of early September, there were 13,469 listings and 372 upcoming auctions in 12 states across the Midwest. This should give you an idea of the need for a site like Farmlandfinder.com. The site consolidates farmland auctions into one spot and will also provide you satellite imagery, soil map, crop history and more in easy to read reports for its customers. Farmland Finder Founder and CEO Steven Brockshus discusses what this means for farmers.

"In the summer of 2015, I was at a farmland auction near my family’s farm in Northwest Iowa. The auctioneer had taken a picture from the side of the road for the farm he was selling and there wasn’t much more data available than that. In a world where we have data and information available at our fingertips, it struck me as odd that when it comes to farmland – one of peoples most cherished assets – there’s almost no information available. That was one of the seeds that turned into FarmlandFinder, which currently is the largest and most up-to-date farmland sales database on the market."


Read the full "This Website Is Making Buying Farmland Easier" article at futurefarmermag.com.


The Forecast of the Climate

* Data courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information

Since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total effect of these 241 events exceeds $1.6 trillion. As the climate changes, these severe weather experiences will only get worse. In 2018, the U.S. experienced 14 separate billion-dollar disasters events. Predictive analytics will be more important than ever, as bad weather can destroy a farmer’s season.


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NORTH DAKOTA FARMERS UNION What does North Dakota Farmers Union offer? North Dakota Farmers Union is an education-focused organization and offers a variety of programs to educate both youth and adults who have their hand in farming, the cooperative business model and related areas. On the topic of youth, NDFU provides opportunities for kids to attend cooperativefocused leadership camps: Heart Butte Camp near Elgin and Wesley Acres, near Elgin and Dazey, N.D., respectively. The organization also has helped to develop a software package for K-12 students about farm education that is being marketed across the country.

Mark Watne President, North Dakota Farmers Union NDFU.org Mark Watne is a self-employed farmer who has been elected annually since 2013 to serve the members of North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU). He spends nearly every day working for NDFU supervising staff, traveling to meetings worldwide and reporting to members. As president of the organization, Watne also oversees Farmers Union Service Association and Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company. North Dakota Farmer’s Union is a farm organization that was founded in 1927 and is on a mission to benefit rural communities by providing a network of events, services and educational programs. NDFU has more than 50,000 member families.

Additionally, NDFU advocates for enhanced income opportunities for farmers and ranchers, provides insurance products and hosts a conference about the latest technologies for farming and ranching with approximately 300 attendees every year.

NDFU Impact by the Numbers



The number of member families NDFU had at the end of 2018

The number of kids who attend NDFU camps every year



The dollar amount the Founding Farmers and Agraria restaurants have purchased from an NDFU member

The weekly number of people who are served by the restaurants



How many miles the NDFU truck has logged hauling product to Washington, DC.



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How much NDFU has invested in rural North Dakota nonprofits through its Community Stewards program, donating funds to farm safety initiatives, rural fire departments and ambulance services, local hospital associations, food pantries and more.

24 Ranveer Chandra Chief Scientist, FarmBeats, Microsoft microsoft.com/en-us/research/ project/farmbeats-iot-agriculture

North Dakota Farm Stats N.D. farm operations



U.S. farm operations

2,042,220 U.S. farms of 2,000 or more acres

N.D. farms of 2,000 or more acres

85,127 6,721 FarmBeats 101

• Techniques to merge drone imagery with ground sensor data. • TV white spaces based long-range sensor networks in the farms. • Automation of drone flights in the farms. • Improving drone battery life. • An IoT gateway device for agriculture. • Cloud support and machine learning services that are useful for agriculture.

N.D. acres of farmland

39,341,591 U.S. acres of farmland

FarmBeats helps partners gather data from sensors, drones, tractors, satellites, weather stations and other sources. It will aggregate all these sources of data using Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to predict data points in places that do not have sensors. Finally, it will enable developers to easily create new AI algorithms that can bring the benefits of data science to agriculture. With all these tools, farmers will be able to get a view of their farm that was previously incredibly difficult, such as a soil moisture map of the farm. With these views, partners can provide insights to farmers that can enable data-driven agriculture in a more affordable way.

900,217,576 * Stats from the Census of Agriculture by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Precision agriculture is the new buzzword in farming. The problem with this is that it is often expensive to enact and you need reliable internet connectivity, which a wide portion of the global farm population does not have. FarmBeats is Microsoft working with farmers to enable data-driven farming. Some of the research that they’re working on include...

U.S. average size of farm

N.D. average size of farm



441 1,492 Estimated market value of land and buildings average per farm

$2,546,783 Estimated market value of all machinery and equipment average per farm


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25 AG Benefits from the North Dakota Department of Commerce James Leiman Director, Economic Development and Finance Division Interim Director, Workforce Division

The Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and Research ND Grant program seem like the perfect grant to encourage innovation in ag tech. Tell us more about the process and who you want to see take advantage of it. "North Dakota offers several successful research programs with proven track records that encourage innovation within ag tech. With two amazing research universities, NDSU and UND, the region is known for its leadership and research prowess in precision agriculture. Areas include, but are not limited to, growth and development in crop research, unmanned systems, innovative farm implement development and the software applications that support a highly complex global food chain. Learning from past practices, Commerce is leading an initiative to take research programs to the next level as it is standing up intellectual property commercialization and tech transfer team in conjunction with the university system and the Bank of ND."

Programs Available from the ND Department of Commerce Agricultural Products Utilization Commission business.nd.gov/apuc The mission of APUC is to create new wealth and employment opportunities through the development of new and expanded uses of North Dakota agricultural products.

Agricultural Commodity Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit "Agricultural Commodity Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit" An individual, estate, trust, partnership, corporation or limited liability company is allowed an income tax credit for investing in an agricultural commodity processing facility in North Dakota certified by the Department of Commerce Division of Economic Development and Finance.

Agricultural Processing Plant Construction Materials Sales Tax Exemption "Agricultural Processing Plant Construction Materials Sales Tax Exemption" Gross receipts from sales of tangible personal property used to construct an agricultural commodity processing facility in this state are exempt from taxes under this chapter.

Manufacturing Agricultural or Recycling Equipment Sales Tax Exemption "Manufacturing Agricultural or Recycling Equipment Sales Tax Exemption" A new or expanding plant may exempt machinery or equipment from sales and use taxes if it is: 1. Used primarily for manufacturing or agricultural processing or 2. Used solely for recycling.

Learn more about all of the Department of Commerce’s services at commerce.nd.gov.



JAN/FEB 2020


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26 How The

MIDWEST Can Lead Ag-Tech

CGC Ventures is part of Continental Grain Company, a 200-year old family-owned company that was birthed from a love of agriculture. CGC is the investment branch of Continental and focuses on investing in early-stage businesses. We caught up with investor Chris Abbott to discuss the industry, the next hot companies and how the midwest can lead the pack in terms of ag-tech.

Chris Abbott Investor at CGC Ventures continentalgrain.com Chris joined the CGC Ventures team in 2018. Previously, Chris led Craig-Hallum Capital Group’s investment banking group efforts focused on sustainability, agriculture and ag-tech. Prior to Craig-Hallum, Chris worked at Piper Jaffray & Co. and AWJ Capital Partners, focused broadly on technology, sustainability, healthcare and consumer companies. He also currently serves on the Boards of several CGCV companies. Chris loves to compete in triathlons, basketball and tennis. He is an avid supporter of charity: water and InnerCity Tennis.

Fargo for the last 100 years has been playing a role in the ag-tech industry. Compared to other regions around the U.S. that are working in ag-tech, how would you rank Fargo? I think Fargo has out-performed most regions when it comes to innovation, especially when you think about it on a per-capita basis. Fargo also has what most regions don’t have, which is leading domain expertise in agriculture and food production. When you complement domain expertise with Fargo’s supportive local investment environment to fund new businesses, it creates a great recipe for success. Ames, Iowa, is also great at this. Minneapolis is also good and getting better. There’s a lot of work being done in the Twin Cities, Fargo, Ames, Iowa, and around the Midwest. How can all these Midwest cities work together to grow our recognition in ag tech? I think these areas have the most domain expertise, hands down. These regions also have massive amounts of capital, due to successful businesses built in the region over the past century. The next challenge will be continuing to drive innovation from within the food/ag majors, as well as the universities and non-ag technology companies, and support that innovation with capital and strategic guidance. If you have the innovation, you need to create support from the food and ag value-chain throughout the Midwest and the investment community. If you have innovation, strategic support and investment capital, it all becomes self-fulfilling. Look at what Silicon Valley has done with these three legs of the stool and look at the result the past 20 years. We can do that in the Midwest if entrepreneurs, investors, strategics and thought leaders build support systems to foster the innovation. Tell us about some of the businesses you’ve already invested in. We have a great portfolio of companies throughout the ag/food value chain. We have 13 investments across real-time, in-season data (hardware/software), proven biological technologies in crop protection and nutrition, alternative protein and plant-based diets, novel food ingredients, animal health/nutrition and supply chain efficiency. We are fortunate to have incredible founders and teams that we’ve backed at each company. Each of these companies solves a critical need in the broader value chain and when strung together, can create meaningful, global change for the better. As a result, we don’t expect a typical venture capital success rate, we expect our success rate to be much better.



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You obviously work with a lot of ag-tech businesses. What are you looking for in a successful company? We are looking for great teams, solving real problems, that can show product-market-fit. We are an active partner and shareholder for our companies and can be most helpful once a company is in commercialization mode. We are less effective if a company is very early stage, focused purely on technology R&D. The companies that we have invested in all have a common theme – great teams. It is often over-stated, but having the right team makes all the difference. Google wasn’t the first search engine, Facebook wasn’t the first social network, Apple didn’t invent the cell phone, but ultimately those companies became market leaders as their teams listened to consumers, had a relentless focus on product development and serviced customers like nobody else. Same equation holds true in ag-tech. What areas of ag-tech are the quickest growing and have the most potential for exciting innovations? Ag-tech is interesting. I would say biologicals and digital ag remain very exciting. Digital ag has seen slower adoption in most cases, but certain areas where technology is used as a decision support tool (for growers, agronomists and retailers), solutions have been adopted and continue to grow rapidly. We are seeing that in our investment in Sentera, which attaches their sensors to drones to gather data, in real-time, to provide agronomists and growers with weed pressure maps, nitrogen status and stand/emergence. That is data, not pictures, so it pushes automatically from the drone sensor into the cab of the tractor and into the monitors. You can actually “live stream” your weed pressure map on your iPhone as the drone flies on autopilot over the field (that is even better than Netflix!) That capability eliminates lots of hours of scouting and creating maps by agronomists, letting them focus on higher-value tasks and spending time with their customers. Biologicals offer growers the ability to switch away from synthetic chemistry and not lose performance or increase their risk. The world is quickly realizing that synthetic chemistry isn’t good for people, plants or the planet. But growers need real biological solutions to replace their chemistry. There is lots of innovation and regulatory support to get effective biological products in the hands of growers, which hopefully allows growers to increase their profitability and capture more value as they produce better, differentiated crops. At least it gives them more leverage in the value chain. We have backed Greenlight Bio (RNA technology platform) and Vestaron (biopesticide, peptide technology) in the crop protection space, as well as Pivot Bio, the industry leader in Nitrogen biological replacement technology. Working for a 200-year old company, how do you stay innovative and encourage displacement in the industry? I am thankful every day to work at a great family-owned business like Continental Grain. We have the best people in the industry, no question. We value disruption and intellectual honesty, but also take a long-dated view of the food/ag value chain’s evolution. Complacency in food/ag is fatal. CGC has spent 200+ years, over six generations, continually reinventing itself. When you have that type of focus and a long-term view, you can build pretty incredible businesses. Talk about the problem that we’re facing as a global population to ensure we’re being environmentally friendly and going to be able to feed everyone. I’ve spent the past decade working in sustainability and agriculture technology. We all know the impact agriculture can have. Agriculture uses most of the freshwater on the planet, consumes massive amounts of energy and needs to tackle pollution. However, we also feed billions of people and continually focus on solving global human health and environmental problems. Growers are innovators, always have been and always will be. If someone can figure it out, I’d bet on agriculture.

Think holistically for a second about a point in time where a grower can fly a drone to get a full field scouted in minutes, push that data into the cab and spray a biological that doesn’t harm bees, soil or consumers.

Think holistically for a second about a point in time where a grower can fly a drone to get a full field scouted in minutes, push that data into the cab and spray a biological that doesn’t harm bees, soil or consumers. Then, layer in the fact that same grower also applied a Pivot microbe at planting (or seed coating applied), which delivers 100 pounds of nitrogen to the corn, has no need for side-dressing, no risk of runoff, water contamination, soil degradation, etc. And, that same grower can get paid more for their differentiated crop, growing practices and carbon sequestration. These solutions are available today. They drive grower efficiency and profitability, improve environmental health and address human health issues around obesity, processed foods, exploding cancer rates, etc. Agriculture will solve the issues around global sustainability and human health – but we all need to support our growers and innovators.


> > 81



FARM PROFITABILITY Brian Dawson is passionate about making sure farming remains a profitable business. As the founder and CEO of HarvestPort, his team and him have developed technology that connects, educates and supports farmers in an effort to cut costs and increase farmers' profitability.

Brian Dawson Founder and CEO, HarvestPort harvestport.com



JAN/FEB 2020

I hear from a lot of farmers that software developers don’t actually understand what happens on the farm. How are you actually making sure your products are applicable to farmers? First, we save farmers time and money immediately. HarvestPort’s value prop is not hypothetical or ‘down-the-road.’ We start cutting a grower’s operating expenses upon the first interaction. When a farmer instantly understands what an ag-tech platform can do and can easily quantify ROI, the farmer is more inclined to adopt the solution. The farmer needs to understand the return versus engaging in a long uncertain pilot phase. Also, more than half of our employees have worked previously in agriculture. And half of our investors are growers, processors or brick-nmortar agribusiness service providers. On that note, one of the reasons that North Dakota is a good spot for ag-tech to emerge is that many of the developers

grew up on farms and come from an agricultural background. What are your thoughts about that? Being in California, is it hard to find tech people who understand farming? It is indeed great that ag-tech has such strong momentum in North Dakota and, of course, if you can find folks that know both tech and farming, that’s great. But you don’t need everybody on a team to come from an ag background. In fact, I might argue that as long as some portion of an ag-tech team has a nuanced understanding of the ag supply chain, it is beneficial to have team members with diverse experiences who bring a perspective from other industries. Though I have now been in ag half my career, I actually started in oil and gas. And having built a technology startup in another sector prior to my first ag startup (HarvestPort is my second), this allowed me to approach problems without any insider bias. The stereotype of farmers who are not technology-savvy is becoming more antiquated as the new generation takes over. How will farming and farms, in general, be affected as the new generation takes over the farm over the next decade? The next generation, specifically millennial farmers, inherently understand tech. It’s been a part of their lives. Trying out and adopting new technology is not as big of a hurdle. I expect farms to try tech more quickly but need to see ROI. When it comes to new technology adoption, there’s the idea of having to cross the chasm to have your product adopted by the majority. When it comes to software for your farm and, in particular, apps, where do you think we are on crossing that chasm? This speaks to the rule-of-thumb in ag-tech that often throws off venture investors: it’s not always the best technology that wins – it’s the best go-to-market. We’ve tried to deal with this by following the money upstream. We leveraged relationships with

farmland operator clients to be introduced to the farmland asset manager funds they are affiliated with, which became clients, and we are now running a program to consolidate inputs purchasing across a pension fund who has many farmland asset manager portfolio investments. Following the billions of dollars to an apex investor allows you to aggregate maximum acreage with minimal effort. Of course, we had to build business intelligence product tools with the investment manager in mind. Still, it’s the best bang for the buck so to speak. As a company that connects stakeholders in the ag supply chain, including new tech, we consistently see new businesses that struggle to get traction on farms. And it’s the go-to-market problem I’m referencing, often times the solution works well but they don’t know how to get buy-in from the farmer on the problem it solves. With that said, in the past five years, there has been a huge shift in readiness to adopt new tech in ag. You have a unique product that focuses on the farmer. Can you talk about how business is usually done in agriculture and how HarvestPort is hoping to make farmers more profitable? We’ve made a point not to try to “disrupt” the personal relationships in the agricultural supply chain. We work with local experts at brick and mortar agribusinesses, often crop retailers. We simply try to improve efficiency both ways, to cut costs for both supplier and farmer. Farmers working with HarvestPort see immediate cost and time savings on one of their largest farm expenses, crop inputs. What is your vision of farming 20 years from now? Farmers will be able to cover a lot more ground. Fewer people will be required to get a job done. Frankly, I think the skilled farmers who understand the complexities of agronomy are digitally competent and who are savvy about mitigating risk from ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) issues will rise to the top. And the guys who aren’t paying attention may be in trouble.


>> 83

Dr. Xin "Rex" Sun is originally from Yantai City, China. He attended Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU), a public university based in Nanjing, China, from 2007 to 2013, obtaining his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering. From 2010 to 2012, he ventured to Fargo for the first time as a visiting scholar at North Dakota State University (NDSU). After graduating, Dr. Sun spent two and a half years as a lecturer at NAU. After that, he returned to NDSU as a research scientist in 2015. In addition to continuing his research, Dr. Sun has been an assistant professor since the fall of 2018.



JAN/FEB 2020


BY: Xin "Rex" Sun, Assistant Professor in Precision Agriculture in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at North Dakota State University PHOTOS BY: Hillary Ehlen

is the

Future of

Farming? My answer to this question is to make farmers more profit (money) with lower harm to the environment (earth). If the farmer struggles to feed their own children, of course they won’t have the ability to feed nine billion people in 2050. Well, how can we make them more profit? I believe finding ways to help them make better decisions for their farming business will be a solution. To reach this goal, technology will play a key role in the future of the farming business. North Dakota has almost 90% of the land that is used for agriculture in the country. In the meantime, North Dakota also has been ranked No. 2 in the nation for ultra-fast internet access. This means we (The State of North Dakota) have an outstanding environment that can combine agriculture and technology to help farmers' operations.


>> 85



Precision agriculture is not a new concept to the farming industry, it can trace back as early as the 1990s. But it is in a better position now, with the help of the booming technology industry. Words like autonomous tractors, robotics, drones, big data, cloud computing, internet of things (IoT) are frequently popping out in different magazines and news headlines. With all the technologies existing in precision agriculture, I think one technology is the key: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Before we get into the specific applications of using A.I. to help farmers, let’s get one thing straight. First, WHAT IS A.I.? Of course you can Google/Bing and find out there are only 5,010,000,000 results to let you read. But here is my simple version of the explanation of A.I. which I told to my students in the Introduction to Precision



JAN/FEB 2020

Ag class at NDSU: A.I. is loading some stuff to the computer (input), letting it run by itself (process) and it will give you a useful result (output). Here is the translation version using agriculture words: “load some stuff” means data collection which could be GPS data, soil moisture, satellite image, drone image, near-infrared image of your cattle; “run by itself” means processing (the brain) algorithms like convolutional neural network algorithm or support vector machine algorithm; “give you a useful result” means data visualization which could be yield prediction value, variable rate prescription maps for your fertilizer application. To help the farmers, all these three parts of A.I. are important. Now let’s see three real examples of how I’m researching Precision Ag using A.I. technology at NDSU.

What is A.I.? A.I. really isn't necessarily what "The Jetson's" predicted it to be. A.I. is more present in your life than you realize, from social media connections to parallel parking your vehicle. Applying this technology to agriculture systems is the next step.

How A.I. is present in our lives today: -Social media -Digital Assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google) -Self-Driving and Parking Vehicles -Email communications (spam folders and auto replies) -Web searching (predictive interests and targets ads)

Whatever you do, don’t wait. Flood Insurance can take 30 days to be issued.

3 of A.I. uses




Your Needs. Our Expertise.



Food: Meat quality grading system using A.I. technology in precision food production.

As I am writing this article, my wife is asking me: Do you know where the fish come from in our supermarket here in Fargo? I couldn’t answer the question. That brings me to my point below, as a consumer, we want to know as much information as we can about the food product that we eat. How can we do that? I believe A.I. technology will help answer that question. In the past four years, I was investigating a research funded by the National Pork Board which targets using A.I. technology to evaluate pork quality information. By doing this we can sort different quality pork products in the packing plant, and at the same time we can potentially trace back the food product that can help consumers better understand their food products. With introducing my research above using A.I. applications in agricultural and food area, I hope can help the farmers and consumers to have a better understanding of what AI exactly can do in the future of our life. There are more applications that A.I. can help the farmers like using A.I. algorithm to analysis drone/satellite imagery to detect plant growth condition and or using A.I. to predict/monitor yield production, etc. There are so many things that AI can help us in agriculture, and this is a good time to get started since the computing power ability is faster and stronger than ever before.



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I believe with all the technologies in precision agricultural, we are dealing with one thing: Data. We are collecting, processing and presenting useful data to farmers and ranchers, so they can make executive decisions more accurate and faster by evaluating these data we provided to them using different technologies. One more thing I want to mention here is in January 2019, at the department of Ag Biosystem Engineering Department of North Dakota State University, we’ve officially launched a brand-new major/minor that is called Precision Agriculture. Within two semesters we have already more than doubled our student enrollment number in the Precision Agriculture program. The future of farming will come with technology, and here at NDSU, we are trying to let the future generation of farmers learn farming technology as early as possible.

Thirty years ago, if somebody said there would be a device that you can hold in your hand and video chat with your best friend on the other side of the earth in real time, I would say they must be crazy. But 30 years later, we are not only can video chat with anybody on the earth in real-time but also can watch the real-time videos of the reusable rockets landing operation on that same device. Technology is growing so fast and I believe in the future our farming operation will be totally revolutionized by the amazing technologies that we are experiencing right now.

d Powering Possibilities “This app works great to view our tickets, especially when we are harvesting. It’s nice to be able to instantaneously see what we delivered.” - A BUSHEL-POWERED GROWER

The Bushel platform, powering branded app experiences, provides growers access to real account information like tickets, contracts, market information, and more. See the full list of Bushel-powered elevators on our website and learn how your grain facility can join that list.

www.bushelpowered.com (701) 369-0633

Live stock â‰

Livestock: Beef cattle face recognition using A.I. technology in precision livestock production.

Dr. Sun in his research lab at NDSU



JAN/FEB 2020

In livestock production, precision agriculture technology also plays an important role. At NDSU, we are trying to use A.I. algorithm to recognize the beef cattle face information. By doing these we can give the cattle health information to the ranchers much easier and faster. Another research I am investigating here at NDSU is using A.I. technology to help ranchers diagnose beef cattle respiratory disease earlier and faster. Evidence show that over 90% beef cattle have a fever when they carry a respiratory disease. By inputting some correct information (in this case I am using thermal imaging technology) to my A.I. algorithm, we can tell the ranchers that cattle ID 467 has a potential fever and he/she might need special attention to the cattle so it can get treated faster and earlier.






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Crop Crop: Weed species identification using A.I. technology in precision crop production.

In crop production, weed is one of the popular factors that interface effective crop production. If we can find a technology that can recognize the weed location and species name in the field, and then we can tell our sprayer/drone to only spray that spot with specific herbicide. By doing this we can reach two goals, saving the herbicide input cost for farmers and reduce the chemical spray in the agricultural field ,which means lower harm to the environment. At NDSU, my research team is collecting different species of weed samples from the greenhouse and the different field locations that belong to the NDSU agriculture experiment station. In 2018, we collected more than 16TB’s of weed samples pictures (Color, Hyperspectral, Multispectral, 3D, near-infrared) to build a comprehensive database for the A.I. “brain.” In 2019, we plan to collect at least 1 million popular different weed species pictures, and that is just color images. What we trying to do here is let the computer learn and “remember” the weed species by inputing millions of pictures into its brain. Just like our human brains, if I want somebody to remember my name, all I have to do is stand in front of him/her and repeat my name a million times.

Dr Sun

Precision ag is the future of the farming industry; technology is changing every industry in the world, including agriculture. If the world population is going to be 9.5 billion by 2050, and as farmland keeps decreasing, we better figure out an efficient way to feed them." - Dr. Rex Sun



JAN/FEB 2020

Interested in attending NDSU or sending someone? You can find more info about their ag programs at ag.ndsu.edu. In the next issue of Future Farmer, we are going to be highlighting education and the opportunities available to learners of all ages.

NDSU oers a new precision agriculture major and minor to educate students to be the farmers, ranchers and ag technologists of tomorrow. The benefits of precision agriculture go far beyond the farm. Machinery companies, seed and fertilizer firms, agronomy businesses and agriculture insurance companies are looking for students versed in the field. Also, technology companies involved with software, sensors and robotics, unmanned aerial system companies, cloud computing and data science companies will have job opportunities for program graduates.


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1. Conservis



Built-in Accounting Contract Management Inventory Management Order Processing Supplier Management



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Best For Conservis helps farmers that want to manage inventories, track farm activities, analyze yields, track spending, streamline crop insurance reporting and make smarter decisions from a secure platform.




JAN/FEB 2020

Product Details Created with farmers, Conservis is an easy-to-use farm management system that helps growers work smarter, not harder. Gather, analyze, and report on data all in one place. Troubleshoot in the moment and see the big picture. Farming is a complicated business. Conservis helps you streamline and simplify in all stages of the growing process. The farmsmart Conservis team will be working with you to get things up and running fast and along the way. Lead your farm profitably into the future.

Customer Relationships & Marketing

2. Cropolis

Features x


Built-in Accounting Contract Management Inventory Management Order Processing Supplier Management



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Best For Farmers that are ready to increase the volume of direct sales, improve their customer relationships or reduce the amount of time that they spend working on marketing and selling their products.


Product Details The simplest online ordering platform built for direct farm sales. Farmers use Cropolis to increase sales and efficiency when selling directly to their customers. The easy-to-use tool allows farmers to quickly send beautiful, relevant order forms and process incoming orders across multiple customer types such as restaurants, wholesalers and farmers markets. Cropolis helps create a reliable channel that grows relationships with more customers while automating most back-office work.

Farm Management & Collaboration

Features Built-in Accounting Contract Management Inventory Management Order Processing Supplier Management


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3. Granular

Best For Business-minded row crop producers in the US and Canada


Product Details Granular is farm management software that makes it easier to operate and manage a stronger, more sustainable farm. Granular helps farmers break free from spreadsheets and get the analytics they need anytime, anywhere. Through Granular's scheduling and collaboration tools, teams can get more done, with less.


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Manage Inventory & Analyze Data


4. AgCinect

Built-in Accounting Contract Management Inventory Management Order Processing Supplier Management


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Best For Farm and ranch operations in need of a tool to capture and analyze their data. Any size farm can utilize AgCinect to help automate their farm and get insightful analytics and financials.


Product Details Comprehensive farm and ranch solution used to track crop details, livestock, accounting/ financials, and much more. Manage your entire farm and/or ranch operation all in one instance. AgCinect is entirely cloud-based, so it is accessible from any device and can be utilized by multiple users. AgCinect allows the user to collect data from all areas of their farm, and provides them with financials, analytics and reports whenever needed.

Customer Relationships & Marketing

5. Farmers Business Network 96


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Features x


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x x

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Best For Serving farmers directly. Product Details Farm confidently with trusted agronomic insights made possible by connecting real data from real farmers on an unbiased platform. farmersbusinessnetwork.com

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• Real Estate • Farm Land Farm & Construction Equipment And much more!

6. Agrimap

Simulcast & Online Only Auctions


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Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, Henslin Auctions, Inc. has the tools, experience and commitment to ensure that every auction is arranged and conducted in a professional manner. Visit our website to learn more about upcoming events!

Best For Farm management app that assists individual farmers and farming teams of all sizes with record keeping, task management, GPS tracking & more. Product Details They cross-bred Google with Facebook, and made Agrimap - The Farming App. Agrimap thinks differently about technology in agriculture. They believe in a world where farmers can easily capture their data, share it and learn from each other. They have seen too many farmers put off by over complicated systems. With their seamless design, there are no barriers to adopting tech in any farming business. Agrimap enables farmers to stay in control in the ever changing farming environment.

“Allen and the crew, at Henslin Auctions, were absolutely great people to work with during the planning period and all the way through the day of our auction. We selected them based on their reputation and their advertising ideas. We were not disappointed and would recommend them to anyone thinking of having an auction.” - Nick and Char Kissner


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7. Agri Tracking Systems

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Best For Farm management solution for agri-businesses which helps with budgeting, tracking mobile irrigation, planning, sensor data, telemetry, photo monitoring, field scouting and more. Product Details Farm management tool that provides administration of farms through field applications and location tracking.

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8. Fieldview



Built-in Accounting Contract Management Inventory Management Order Processing Supplier Management

Best For Farm productivity and management to increase yields. Product Details Each farm is different. Every field is unique. Use FieldView™ year round to make data driven decisions to maximize your return on every acre. They're your data partner to seamlessly collect, store and visualize critical field data, monitor and measure the impact of your agronomic decisions on crop performance, and manage your field variability by building customized fertility and seeding plans for your fields to optimize yield and maximize profit.



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9. Agworld

Putting farmers and their communities





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We offer the best in agronomic products as well as knowledge. Our experienced team of agronomists will help your farming operation maximize productivity with on-time deliveries and consulting.

Best For Farmers, agronomists, ag-retail and contractors. Managing 200 crop types in over 5 countries across the world. Product Details The Agworld platform is a farm data collection, sharing and management platform. Agworld users can collect data at all levels of their operation and share this data with anyone that matters to them. This means that growers, farmhands, agronomists, input providers, contractors, etc. are able to all work together on the same set of data. Agworld is an independent and privately owned company that is aligned with growers and their stakeholders.

Check out our website to learn more

southwestagnd.com Two locations to better serve you Bowman 1-866-523-4845 Mandan 1-701-663-0662


Off The Husk Farmer to farmer advice and tips from west central Minnesota farmer Zach Johnson.

For the local

The Ruminant Covering topics from hatching eggs to crop rotations to fruit farms to pasture management, this podcast is for the farmer who wants to learn more about all types of farmers and farm management styles.

For the do-it-all farmer


>> JAN/FEB 2020

CropLine Podcast

John Deere on Life and Land

For field crop specialists

For ag ventures

Field crop specialists respond to current questions that grain and oilseed producers ask on crop management tips, herbicide recommendations and pest alerts.

RDO's Agriculture Technology Podcast

For the techie RDO is working on new tech all the time. Listen to experts throughout the industry talk on the latest ag-tech on the horizon.

Every two weeks, the podcast will take a deeper dive into stories from agriculture, rural life, history, art...if it has a connection to the land, they’ll talk about it in “On Life and Land.”

Shark Farmer

For the networker Rob Sharkley isn't afraid to talk on controversial topics. From his Illinois grain farm, he hosts a weekly podcast with guests from all over the country.


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SOFTWARE BY: Danna Sabolik | PHOTO BY: Hillary Ehlen Bushel CEO and CoFounder Jake Joraanstad, and Ryan Raguse, Chairman and Co-Founder, at their headquarters in Downtown Fargo.

Bushel's been around less than 10 years, but they are recieving funding left and right, signifying their growth and potential. The company has been around since 2011 as Myriad Mobile, and recently moved into the ag space for a more consistent and sustainable business model.

Co-founders Jake Joraanstad and Ryan Raguse and the rest of the Bushel team built an app for a sugar beet company where farmers got scale tickets. It was a huge success and all the farmers were using it. They then replicated that for grain elevators and companies initially working with Arthur Companies and Minn-Kota Products.



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This app became the Bushel platform, which allows grain

We caught up with Bushel on what they are focusing

elevators to more effectively do business with farmers

on in 2020 and what they have learned through the

through company branded apps and other tools. Each

tumultuous 2019 year.

Bushel-powered app allows growers to do things like quickly access tickets, contracts, commodity balances and much more.


>> 103

: What is Bushel looking forward to in 2020? : First, we would like to see a more productive and completed harvest for farmers. 2019 had a lot of headwinds, including depressed commodity prices and challenging weather cycles. Second, we are looking forward to delivering new technology that changes the way grain buyers and their farmers do business together for the better. Third, we are excited to continue building our company in Fargo, N.D. A lot of our team grew up in rural communities throughout North Dakota and Minnesota so it’s fun to see how they’re able to use their rural roots to connect with customers and partners throughout the agriculture value chain. : What's something Bushel has learned, developed and worked on in 2019 that will make the future of ag better? : Every decision is made with data. Cheaper, faster access to data is paramount to a successful farm, a successful grain buyer and a successful supply chain. Bushel made accessing data in 2019 easier, faster and cheaper. This should result in


untold amounts of value, from a farmer who can spend more precious time with their family, to a supply chain partner that just lowered their operating costs using Bushel automation.

actually DO CARE about using great technology. Help us dispel the myth that farmers don’t use technology “no matter how good it is.” We’re not naive to think our technology solves every problem on the farm, but it does solve a very specific

: What does Bushel need from farmers throughout MN and ND to help them?

pain point — to help farmers see their account information more easily with the grain buyers they do business with.

: Feedback and advocacy. What do you like about your grain facility’s Bushel-powered app? How can the team at Bushel serve you better? Does your grain facility not have a Bushel-powered app? Help your grain companies understand that you, the farmer,


>> JAN/FEB 2020

: What are a few projects Bushel is investing in? : We will continue to invest in our core platform and build additional functionality for farmers and grain buyers. We are also focused on taking Bushel’s tools from

an “informative app” to both a transactional tool and a platform that allows third parties to integrate with

: What role will Bushel play in the vitality of farming in the region?

Bushel’s systems to make a broader impact in the industry.

: Our goal is to make it easier for farmers and grain buyers to do business together, and then support access to information up and down the agriculture value

Strategic partnerships will continue to be an important

chain. Bushel serves a very specific part of the agriculture

part of Bushel’s strategy moving forward. There are a

value chain, where the grain first enters the supply chain.

lot of technology solutions in agriculture that solve very

Our way of helping facilitate that is to provide permission-

specific pain points. Agribusinesses NEED to figure out

based access to data that was traditionally difficult to

ways to work together. Farmers shouldn’t have to be the


ones figuring out how to connect dozens of disparate systems and platforms together.


>> 105

: What makes Bushel unique, compared to other ag software?

buyers. That increase in business can be reinvested back into their communities and their companies.

: Our vision, ability to execute, results and commitment to team culture differentiate us.

Commitment to team culture: We value the people who choose to work at Bushel. Our customers are, of

Our vision: We believe we can build the digital

course, important but if we can’t take care of our team

infrastructure for the grain industry and enhance

members, it becomes increasingly difficult to take care of

data accessibility for farmers, agribusinesses and consumers across the agriculture value chain. We believe in partnerships that solve problems for farmers and agribusinesses.

Ability to execute: We went to market with Bushel in June 2017. To date, we have over 18,000 farmers logged into and actively using Bushel-powered mobile apps. We are moving fast because we know that each production cycle provides a new opportunity for farmers to gain value from Bushel.

Results: Bushel powers 1,200 grain receiving locations across the U.S. That’s 1,200 rural communities who are now able to allow increased business relationships between farmers and grain


>> JAN/FEB 2020

our customers. Your customers should feel the culture of your organization through their interactions with you. It manifests through every big and small interaction you have with them. With 150 team members dedicated to building software products and solutions for agriculture, Bushel is one of the strongest, independently owned and operated agtech companies in the U.S.

: What role does automation play in the future of agriculture? : The winners of automation in agriculture will be companies who 1) Provide tangible benefits to the user 2) Don’t hinder productivity during critical times of a production cycle 3) Deliver solid customer service.

In relation to software automation, Bushel is currently in the late “early adopter” stage where companies are finally realizing they need to use software to “automate away”

: What is the biggest challenge facing farmers today that Bushel can help with? : We take away the guessing and in 2020

paper driven processes. Think about how bank statements

we’ll make it a simple “click of a button” to execute on that

were reconciled 25 years ago. Reconciling your statements

business. No more paperwork or snail mail. Our work is

is largely automated and paperless now. In fact, you’re often

focused on enhancing already great business relationships

times automatically alerted when there is suspicious activity

within the grain industry. Let’s keep these productive business

on your bank account. You aren’t discovering the errors, your

relationships strong and evolve them through technology

bank is. Those kinds of automations protect you. More of those

that provides mutual gains for farmers, grain buyers and

safeguards will manifest in agriculture through automation.

agribusinesses throughout the agriculture value chain.

bushel.ag | facebook.com/getbushel | twitter.com/GetBushel



>> 107

>> FEATURED START-UP BY: Danna Sabolik | PHOTOS BY: Hillary Ehlen


>> JAN/FEB 2020

HARVEST PROFIT About Harvest Profit Harvest Profit is a farm management software that allows producers to track their P&L, manage their farm and helps with grain marketing. harvestprofit.com


>> 109

What is Harvest Profit looking forward to in 2020? More and more farms are looking at the business side of their operations as an area of improvement. At Harvest Profit, we have built out a full set of tools to better help our customers track cost of production, field-by-field profitability, and a variety of other business-focused use cases. Our current feature set covers the vast majority of the “edge cases” that we’ve encountered over the last three years. We are now free to work on bigger, more impactful features for our customers and we have a great team to support this effort. Moving from making 100’s of incremental improvements to a smaller amount of more impactful features is what we’re currently excited about! What's something Harvest Profit learned/developed/ worked on in 2019 that will make the future of ag better? We released a balance sheet tracking feature in Harvest Profit in 2019. Historically, farmers focused on their local cash price or the futures price as a (or “the”) key financial indicator for their operations. This is a number that is constantly moving and our customers have no control over it. This lack of control can easily lead to inaction. Our balance sheet feature allows our customers to take current market factors and convert them to something that’s more meaningful (and hopefully actionable) and that is their working capital. We help automate working capital calculations that will give our customers a more actionable financial metric that’s specific to their operations. Furthermore, we allow them to chart their working capital over time vs. a long-term goal. At the end of the day, there are a lot of numbers flowing in


>> JAN/FEB 2020

and out of Harvest Profit. We’re excited to help our customers turn these numbers into data that they can use to take action with and this balance sheet feature is a key example of that. What does Harvest Profit need from farmers throughout MN and ND to help them? All we ask is that if any farmers in the area are interested in better tracking of cost of production, field-by-field profitability, their grain marketing positions….to try out a free trial of Harvest Profit at HarvestProfit.com/freetrial. We have approximately 80 farmers in the region as customers and our goal is to help as many as possible gain better visibility into the numbers side of their farm business. What are a few projects Harvest Profit is investing in? We are currently building out deeper integrations with Climate FieldView and John Deere’s Operations Center. We will be pulling as-applied fertilizer, seed, and chemical data from those platforms into Harvest Profit. This will help our customers minimize the data entry involved in using the software. I will throw out one word of caution though. Many of us think of integrations as a “magic bullet” that will allow us to automatically generate the reports we want to see. In farming, the data isn’t structured in a way that things “map” perfectly together between multiple platforms. Long story short, we’re working hard to make the software as easy, yet as powerful, as possible. We are also working on a couple “moonshot” ideas that could help our customers but aren’t directly related to our Harvest Profit product as it sits today. We’ll have more to report on this later in the year!

What role will Harvest Profit play in the vitality of farming in the region? I tend to be more of a realist vs. a big-talking salespersontype. In truth, we don’t have a grand vision for helping the vitality of the region. We just want to do the best work we can for our customers and help them build more profitable and less financially-stressful farm businesses. What makes HP unique, compared to other ag software? There are a lot of software tools focused on the agronomy side of the farm but there aren’t many that focus on the business aspects. That’s our sole focus. Also, many farm tools are given to farmers for free and are subsidized by their purchases of inputs and equipment or sales of grain. Harvest Profit is an independent company that charges for its software. Given that, our dynamic is to build the best tools possible and provide the best support possible. We aren’t using the software as a way to gain other aspects of a person’s business. Software is our business! We have to be excellent at what we do or we won’t be able to grow and serve more customers. This motivation makes us unique vs. many offerings. What role does automation play in the future of agriculture? Labor is one of the biggest challenges on the farm today. It’s probably the most common challenge that I hear about. There are huge opportunities with automation in agriculture but I would caution the industry on “putting the cart ahead of

the horse”. There are sizable challenges related to the logistics of automation (eg. how do I move an autonomous fleet to the other side of my farm 30 miles away?) and the management of automation (eg. Am I just trading lower-skilled jobs (laborers) for higher-skilled jobs (automation technicians/managers)?). Also, at the end of the day, it ultimately comes down to cost/acre to get a job done. Labor will continue to be a huge challenge but the economics of automation need to be at least in line with the current expense structure or adoption will be challenging. What is the biggest challenge facing farmers today that HP can help with? The biggest challenge farmers face today, in my opinion, is uncertainty. There is always going to be uncertainty with weather and grain markets. That’s the nature of farming. Furthermore, there is almost always uncertainty in other aspects of the farm. Over the last year or two, a lot of that uncertainty has surrounded global trade. This uncertainty, in some form, isn’t going to simply go away. As I mentioned earlier, this uncertainty makes it hard to make confident, proactive decisions on the business side of the farm. Better visibility into a farm’s numbers is a key step into ultimately being comfortable taking proactive steps to take more control over a farm’s financial outcome. Making this revenue/cost/profit visibility as easy as possible is our mission at Harvest Profit.

(Left to right) Ben Longlet, Nick Horob, Jake Humphrey and Jaryd Krishnan


> > 111



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Profile for Spotlight

Future Farmer Jan/Feb 2020  

In 2019, Spotlight published two ag-focused issues of their Fargo-centered business magazine, Fargo INC! Both magazines were some of the bes...

Future Farmer Jan/Feb 2020  

In 2019, Spotlight published two ag-focused issues of their Fargo-centered business magazine, Fargo INC! Both magazines were some of the bes...