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Technological evolutions revitalize farming


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Technological evolutions revitalize farming Grant Evans gevans@havredailynews.com With advances in global positioning systems and autosteer, farmers’ lives have become less stressful and more cost-efficient, and they have seen a spike in higher yields as tractors drive themselves. Driverless tractors have a long history predating these technological advancements. Frank W. Andrew as early as 1940 invented the driverless tractor. A fixed wheel or barrel would be put in the center of a field attached to the steering arm of the tractor and a cable would be wound to make the tractor drive in straight lines. Ford around the same time developed “The Sniffer,” but it wasn’t produced because it couldn’t be operated without cables being dug into the ground. It wasn’t until 1994 when engineers developed a picture analysis system which could guide small driverless tractors to work vegetable and root crops. The tractor with this technology could even handle slight headland turns. Currently, driverless technologies have been centered around recent developments in unmanned agricultural technology. Precision agriculture saw a technological revolution in the ’80s as a result of global positioning systems, or GPS, with the aid of on-board computers, focused on maximizing returns while using minimum resources. What would come next in 2012 were semi-automated tractors. Then the tractors had drivers, but the farmer only would have to navigate the headlands. Courtesy photo via Pixabay.com A modern combine featuring GPS technology harvests wheat.

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January 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ELIZABETH SHIPSTEAD For Farm & Ranch GLASGOW — “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ The other day I saw this cartoon image of a hallway with a door labeled “2021” around the corner. Hiding behind this corner were several cartoon characters, carefully peeking around the corner at the door and with a long broom stick just barely opening it. It made me laugh, but I can relate to that feeling of trepidation and unsureness over this coming year. 2020 sure has been one for the record books hasn’t it?! Disrupted cattle markets, a crazy election, drought, chaotic grain markets, fires, a pandemic, fear, unrest, anger, anxiety, stress. I don’t know about you, but I have been affected by all of these at some point or another this year. As we close out 2020, I think we’d all agree that we’d like to put most of what started in 2020 in the rearview mirror. We may not be able to do that, but I was reminded of the verse above, as I thought about the holidays ahead and starting the New Year. Isaiah’s message was originally given to the people of Israel, but now it is meant for all of us. Israel had experienced invading and conquering nations, sending them into unrest and uncertainty. It seems to me that we can relate to a lot of that. Our country may not be under the rule of another country, but I do know that I often feel like this pandemic is controlling our lives. We consider the security of our homes, families and livelihood as t h e m a r ke t s a n d we a t h e r f l u c t u a t e. Sometimes I wonder, just like the Israelites probably did, “God are you here?” “Have you forgotten about us?” I know He hasn’t forgotten about us and I know He’s here with us. One of the ways I know that is because of the reminder of who God is in Isaiah 9:6. “Wonderful Counselor” – superb, great, incredible, advisor, confidant, expert. What a peace giving experience it is to consult this incredible, confidant, during the good years but most definitely during the rough years. “Mighty God” - no synonyms are needed for this name. This God created the world, orchestrates our lives, knows our beginning and our end. Just as in our childhood we thought our daddies could do anything, this Mighty God actually can and will. We need to ask and seek Him above all else. “Everlasting Father” - constant, without end, indestructible, boundless, Father. It doesn’t matter the location, the type of challenge, our faithfulness or lack thereof, the color of our skin, our culture, our age,

our political leaning, He has made a way for us to come before Him and lay all of it, at His feet and let Him, as our Boundless Father, help us through. “Prince of Peace” – ruler over and way maker for peace with God. We live in a broken world. We don’t often feel peace in our lives or see peace in our world, but one place we can have peace is with God. Through Him we can continue to experience His peace while living in a world full of unrest. Jesus, God’s Son, is the way maker for us to experience that piece. So as we look ahead to next year and wonder about how the issues started in 2020 will end, and what 2021 could potentially bring, I hope you will join with me in understanding, acknowledging, and actively living with the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is just as much alive and active now, as He was all those years ago in Isaiah’s time.

Elizabeth Shipstead www.theruralsisterhood.com Getting into the Christmas spirit with a carriage ride with Santa (Gage Murray) (Angela Murray is driving the team) in Miles City!

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GPS: Technology in agriculture continues to evolve n Continued from page 3 with autosteer because, manually, the driver might end up with too big of a gap between two passes or two rows. Autosteer is going to allow the crop to canopy or provide shade, if the farmer has shade for what they are growing and weeds aren’t able to grow. Therefore, farmers can reduce inputs by using less chemical and the weeds aren’t taking away nutrients or moisture, Rohloff said. “Operator fatigue is something a lot of

guys have cited, how much longer they are able to be in the tractor,” Rohloff said. “When they are not having to manually drive it, both mentally and physically, it depends on how old the tractor is, manually driving it can be a little bit of a chore. I would say mental fatigue would be the biggest thing.” The biggest benefits are reduced inputs and the absence of operator fatigue. In the past few years, the biggest innovations have been section control to

reduce inputs as far as seeding goes, seeding and spraying with the automatic section control. By using GPS with a sprayer it will cut off where sections have already been sprayed a lot more accurately than an operator could, Torgerson’s Ryan Pasch said. “In the past couple of years, they’ve come out with end-of-row functions where the GPS will actually turn the piece of equipment around,” Torgerson’s Chase Stoner said. “So if you have a rectangular

field or a field with nothing in it, once you start going the operator shouldn’t have to touch a switch until the field’s done, where before you would have to manually turn it around after each row.” As technology evolves, farming evolves with it to the point where the farmer is basically in auto-pilot mode. Driving in a straight line or even turning now is guided by satellites eliminating higher costs, operator fatigue and farmers seeing better yields.

FSA: Agency delivers with multiple programs n Continued from page 4 $7.5 billion in direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans, the highest in agency history. This includes more than $3.4 billion for beginning farmers, also an agency record. The 2018 Farm Bill raised the amount producers can borrow, and FSA has seen sharp demand for loans in the past year, especially direct and g u a r a n t e e d fa r m ow n e r s h i p l o a n s. Meanwhile, FSA provided low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks through the Farm Storage Facility Loan program. FSA obligated a

record $340 million in fiscal year 2020. Finally, FSA provided producers with more than $600 million in interim financing in fiscal year 2020 through marketing assistance loans, which help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low. • Safety net programs: FSA held 2020 enrollment for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, where producers signed more than 1.7 million contracts. Election and enrollment for 2021 ARC and PLC is underway, and those enrolled for the 2019 crop year

received more than $5 billion in payments in the fall. Last week, FSA wrapped up the 2021 signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, where more than 17,000 dairy operations enrolled in the risk management program. Operations that enrolled for coverage in 2019 and 2020 have received more than $500 million. • Conservation: FSA held its 54th general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program, the first since 2016, and enrolled 3.4 million acres into the program. Additionally, FSA rolled out two new CRP p i l o t s, t h e S o i l H e a l t h a n d I n c o m e Protection Program and CLEAR30, and is preparing for next year with the CRP general signup beginning Jan. 4, 2021 and the CRP Grasslands signup beginning March 15, 2021. • Critical program delivery: FSA worked closely with the FPAC Business Center to build and implement programs during the pandemic, including CFAP 1, CFAP 2 and the Seafood Trade Relief Program. CFAP 2 was developed and deployed within six weeks. Through STRP, FSA helped U.S. fishermen who have been impacted by unfair retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments. Signup is ongoing for STRP through Jan. 15, and so far, FSA has approved 6,300 applications for more than $154 million in relief payments.

Additionally, because many applicants applying for CFAP and STRP had not worked with FSA previously, the agency stood up a call center to help producers ask questions about FSA programs and get a jump start on program applications. The call center has received over 25,000 calls, including over 800 in Spanish, since its inception in May. FSA is a part of the Farm Production and Conservation mission area at USDA. Other 2020 highlights can be found here. All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict inperson visits or require appointments. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other service center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service centers that are open for appointments will prescreen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Program delivery staff will continue to work with producers by phone, email and using online tools. More information can be found at htp://farmers.gov/coronavirus . USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

www.havredailynews.com Fully autonomous tractors navigate using lasers that bounce signals off of mobile transponders located around the field, accompanied by 150 MHz signals to improve line-of-sight issues. Drivers are replaced by controllers which can supervise on multiple fields from one location. The biggest advancement in farming in recent years is using GPS positioning accompanied by automation software which manages the vehicle’s path and controls for farming implements. A receiver and on-board computer are generally used to receive commands from the remote command station. Doug Weist, who runs and operates FarmTech LLC out of Chouteau said, like GPS in a car or cellphone, tractors use satellites in agriculture, and there are several constellations — patterns of satellites — in the heavens now, so there are a lot of different satellites out there. They are all circling the earth and an agricultural producer can have a sensor on a tractor that can get that information without any other sources to about 10 feet. “We call it autonomous correction signal, for about $3,000 a year, and (we can) get that tractor to about a half inch for repeatable accuracy out on the fields. Because we are locating it, we can also do other things.” Weist said. “We can set up a guidance line, map boundaries, have the tractor steer itself, turn the implement on and off where it has or hasn’t been, turn sections off rows, auto turn at the end of a field. We still need a person in the tractor.” Weist said that, probably in the mid’90s, manufacturers started to add GPS to fertilizer spreaders. That was mostly by big cooperatives in the mid-west and these spreaders were still steered by hand. What they were doing was using variable rating lines. M o n ta n a fa r m e rs p u t d ow n h u ge amounts of lime to increase PH. One of the first applications was with the maps on a big line spreader in changes in rate of application. That was probably the mid’90s and early 2000s when autosteer came around, Weist said. First, it was complicated with not very good hydraulics. Then, around 2010, there were some lower cost steering units. They were electric and easy to resolve so a lot of farmers bought those.

FARM & RANCH

A modern combine featuring GPS technology harvests wheat.

“It just kind of evolved from there. Manufacturers started providing the tractors with it in it,” Weist said, “meaning the tractors are ready to steer. It’s all wired up for GPS consoles and then, like today, a new one rolls off the factory — it has a modem inside of it. It can locate itself within an inch. It’s got all kind of sensors and cameras. It’s like a brandnew Chevy or what a BMW car does.” The biggest upside to GPS units in tractors, according to Weist, is they allow farmers to work longer hours and later h o u rs i n c o n d i t i o n s t h ey o t h e r w i s e couldn’t. GPS allows people to work bigger equipment and where the yield and fertilizer savings comes is like variable rate. Changing the rate of fertilizer across the field, mapping the variability in the fields and doing something about it. “Those technologies have been around for a while, but the adoptive rate has been kind of slow in America. In Europe it’s totally different and that has been coming on strong in the U.S., that’s where we’re taking some kind of data and making a different management system across those fields in key locations,” Weist said. “That is where guys are starting to see increases in yield and decreases in fertilizer.” In the future, more and more producers will be putting GPS in their tractors. If

Courtesy photo via Pixabay.com

they do have it, they’re likely not using all of the features so some of those features for variable rate fertilizer, remote customer support, automated turning on the ends, individual nozzle control and laser mounted fertilizer sensors are not being utilized, Weist said. C H S Key A g ro n o my S p e c i a l i s t Christian Rohloff specializes in the spreading of fertilizer and explained the process of how autosteer works. “So there is an electrical box typically attached inside the steering column of the tractor, and then you have a GPS, which

January 2021

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is called a globe, placed on top of the tractor or combine that is talking to the satellites up in space.” Rohloff said. “Typically, when you pull into a field and you get your equipment set up, you set what is called a point A, ‘I’m starting at this spot,’ drive to the other end of the field and then set a point B, and it snaps into a straight line. Typically, between those two points … your autosteer will then move you over, it knows how wide your equipment is … it will steer you as you need to.” The driver still has to turn at the end of the field despite whatever equipment they are using. The precision now is within inches of your last round in the field. GPS units, even when someone stops for whatever reason, the unit will remember the position in the field. “The biggest benefits of using autosteer are reduced wasted inputs, because typically if you’re trying to manually drive a tractor it’s fairly difficult to keep it in a straight line. It seems like it would be fairly easy, but it is quite difficult.” Rohloff said. “So you’re not getting an even space, say every time you turn around. You have a little bit of wiggle there, so sometimes you end up with overlap, sometimes you end up with a space too big that you intended to between when you are going one way now you’re going another way. Reduced inputs, I would say is the biggest one, from a lack of overlap especially on the field lands or headlands” Farmers also get better weed control

■ See GPS Page 6


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FSA quickly implemented crucial programs amid challenging year

MSU Extension to host cropping seminars Jan. 6 in the Golden Triangle

From USDA Farm Service Agency WASHINGTON — USDA’s Farm Service Agency helped farmers, livestock producers and foresters weather a tough 2020, marked with a pandemic and natural disasters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FSA continued to deliver farm programs to producers through phone and online tools, using social distancing guidelines. The agency also provided extra flexibilities to its programs, adjusting reporting dates and loan processing timelines, and continued to expand technology and streamline services to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. “Through this tough year, FSA continued to deliver crucial safety net, disaster assistance, farm loan and conservation programs to America’s farmers and livestock producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We partner with agricultural producers to grow and expand their operations as well as weather the unpredictable, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. We’ve also spent the past year working to optimize program delivery and find better and modern ways to serve our customers.”

MSU News Service BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension will broadcast its annual cropping seminar series Wednesday, Jan. 6, at several locations in the Golden Triangle. Speakers will cover topics such as grasshopper control, antagonistic effects of herbicides, management of herbicide-resistant weeds, and farm and ranch safety. Viewing locations will be in Chester, Choteau, Conrad, Cut Bank, Denton, Fort Benton, Great Falls, Havre and Shelby. Producers viewing these events in person should plan to adhere to current local and state COVID-19 guidelines. Some locations will host a live presenter at lunch. Attendees must RSVP to their local Extension office by Jan. 4 to attend an inperson event. There is no charge for seminars, and all interested producers are encouraged to attend. Seminars will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. To view presentations at home after the event, producers can contact local Extension offices for access to the broadcast recording. Both commercial and private pesticide licensing recertification credits will also be available with in-person attendance or with viewing a recording at a local Extension office. Gary Adams, state plant health director w i t h t h e A n i m a l a n d Pl a n t H e a l t h Inspection Service, will discuss the cooperative grasshopper and Mormon cricket

Key highlights from 2020 include: • Support amid COVID-19 pandemic: FSA worked with economists and commodity specialist across USDA to quickly build and deliver two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to help producers absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to apply for almost all commodities was in December and, so far, the two rounds of funding have provided nearly $23 billion in relief. Additionally, FSA has added flexibilities to its farm credit options, including loan servicing and enabling a disaster set-aside option to defer a loan payment. • Disaster assistance: Natural disasters,

Havre Dailly News/File photo Grain grows in a field on the Hi-Line. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency worked through the pandemic to deliver assostamce to agricultural producers.

including wildfires in the West, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, the derecho in the Midwest and widespread severe drought, took a toll on U.S. agriculture in 2020. Through FSA’s suite of disaster assistance programs, producers received more than $212 million to help offset disaster-related

losses in 2020. Additionally, FSA added drought and excess moisture as eligible causes of loss for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus, which provided much-needed assistance to help producers impacted by 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. In total, the program

provided $1.24 billion in relief. • Farm credit: FSA helps farmers and ranchers get the financing they need to start, expand or maintain a family farm. This past year, FSA obligated more than

■ See FSA Page 6

MATE 2021 February show canceled due to COVID From The NiILE Organization BILLINGS — The NILE Organization, owner and host of The Montana Agri-Trade Exhibition, also known as The MATE Show & Home and Health Expo, has announced the 45-year long tradition in Billings will not hold its February show.

Based on the current COVID restrictions, considering community health and return on investment to long-time vendors, The MATE Show & Home and Health Expo is unable to host the February event organizers said. In the past 44 years, The MATE Show has grown to more than 600 booths and more

than 18,000 attendees per year. Since its inception in 1975, The MATE Show has brought a total of nearly 450,000 visitors to the city of Billings, with an economic impact of over $3 million annually. “On behalf of the NILE Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and MATE Show

vendors and sponsors, we look forward to seeing you soon,” representatives of the organization said. “Thank you for your interest in The MATE Show and NILE events.” For answers to questions or more information, people can visit http://www.themateshow.com or http://www.thenile.org .

Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council sets virtual meeting Meeting set for Wednesday, Jan. 13 From Montana Department of Agriculture H E L E N A — T h e N o x i o u s We e d Management Advisory Council will meet virtually from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 13.

A draft agenda for the meeting is available on the Montana Department of Agriculture’s Public Notices webpage at http://agr.mt.gov . To receive information to join the virtual meeting, people can contact Carol Bearden, noxious weed program specialist, by phone at 406-444-7880 or by email at cbearden@mt.gov .

Members of the council provide guidance to the Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant program which assists counties, local communities, tribes, researchers and educators in efforts to combat noxious weed problems in Montana. Council members are appointed by the MDA director, and anyone interested in serving on the council can access applications online at

http://agr.mt.gov/NWTF-Council .

The

Montana

Department

of

Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, people can visit http://agr.mt.gov .

suppression program, approved control methods for those species, and 2021 control programs. Other potential topics include grasshopper surveying and management and possible cost share programs. Tim Seipel, MSU Extension cropland weed specialist, will examine antagonistic effects of herbicides. Seipel will speak specifically on tank mixing and important points to consider for herbicide chemistries. Lovreet Shergill, assistant professor of we e d s c i e n c e a t M S U ’s S o u t h e r n Agricultural Research Center, will present “Management of Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Montana Cropping Systems.” Shergill will discuss integrated weed management tactics to manage problematic weeds such as kochia, Russian thistle, wild oats, prickly lettuce, sow thistle, Canada thistle and more. Austin Grazier, director of agricultural safety with the Montana Agriculture Safety Program, will cover farm and ranch safety while highlighting ATV safety. Locations and contact numbers for each cropping seminar are: • Fort Benton: Ag Center, 1205 20th St. Contact Tyler Lane at 406-622-3751. • Denton: Denton Town Hall, 515 Broadway. Contact Katie Hatlelid at 406566-2277. • Havre: Hill County Fairgrounds 4-H Chuckwagon, 1676 U.S. Highway 2 W. Contact Tom Allen at 406-400-2333.

• Chester: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 10 E. Madison Ave. Contact Jesse Fulbright at 406-7595625. • Cut Bank: Cut Bank Elk’s Club, 18 S. Central Ave. Contact Kari Lewis at 406-4662491. • Shelby: Comfort Inn Conference Room, 455 McKinley Ave. Contact Kim Woodring at 406-424-8350. • Choteau: Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. N. Contact Karen Forseth at 406-4662491.

• Great Falls: Cascade County MSU Extension, 3300 Third St. N.E., No. 9, Great Falls. Contact Rose Malisani at 406454-6980. • Conrad: Pondera Shooting Sports Complex, 972 Granite Rd. Contact Adriane Good at 406-271-4054. MSU Extension is an ADA/EO/AA/ Veteran’s preference employer and provider of educational outreach. If participants require accommodation for a disability to participate, they are asked to notify the local Extension Office prior to the event.


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FSA quickly implemented crucial programs amid challenging year

MSU Extension to host cropping seminars Jan. 6 in the Golden Triangle

From USDA Farm Service Agency WASHINGTON — USDA’s Farm Service Agency helped farmers, livestock producers and foresters weather a tough 2020, marked with a pandemic and natural disasters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FSA continued to deliver farm programs to producers through phone and online tools, using social distancing guidelines. The agency also provided extra flexibilities to its programs, adjusting reporting dates and loan processing timelines, and continued to expand technology and streamline services to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. “Through this tough year, FSA continued to deliver crucial safety net, disaster assistance, farm loan and conservation programs to America’s farmers and livestock producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “We partner with agricultural producers to grow and expand their operations as well as weather the unpredictable, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters. We’ve also spent the past year working to optimize program delivery and find better and modern ways to serve our customers.”

MSU News Service BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension will broadcast its annual cropping seminar series Wednesday, Jan. 6, at several locations in the Golden Triangle. Speakers will cover topics such as grasshopper control, antagonistic effects of herbicides, management of herbicide-resistant weeds, and farm and ranch safety. Viewing locations will be in Chester, Choteau, Conrad, Cut Bank, Denton, Fort Benton, Great Falls, Havre and Shelby. Producers viewing these events in person should plan to adhere to current local and state COVID-19 guidelines. Some locations will host a live presenter at lunch. Attendees must RSVP to their local Extension office by Jan. 4 to attend an inperson event. There is no charge for seminars, and all interested producers are encouraged to attend. Seminars will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. To view presentations at home after the event, producers can contact local Extension offices for access to the broadcast recording. Both commercial and private pesticide licensing recertification credits will also be available with in-person attendance or with viewing a recording at a local Extension office. Gary Adams, state plant health director w i t h t h e A n i m a l a n d Pl a n t H e a l t h Inspection Service, will discuss the cooperative grasshopper and Mormon cricket

Key highlights from 2020 include: • Support amid COVID-19 pandemic: FSA worked with economists and commodity specialist across USDA to quickly build and deliver two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to help producers absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to apply for almost all commodities was in December and, so far, the two rounds of funding have provided nearly $23 billion in relief. Additionally, FSA has added flexibilities to its farm credit options, including loan servicing and enabling a disaster set-aside option to defer a loan payment. • Disaster assistance: Natural disasters,

Havre Dailly News/File photo Grain grows in a field on the Hi-Line. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency worked through the pandemic to deliver assostamce to agricultural producers.

including wildfires in the West, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, the derecho in the Midwest and widespread severe drought, took a toll on U.S. agriculture in 2020. Through FSA’s suite of disaster assistance programs, producers received more than $212 million to help offset disaster-related

losses in 2020. Additionally, FSA added drought and excess moisture as eligible causes of loss for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus, which provided much-needed assistance to help producers impacted by 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. In total, the program

provided $1.24 billion in relief. • Farm credit: FSA helps farmers and ranchers get the financing they need to start, expand or maintain a family farm. This past year, FSA obligated more than

■ See FSA Page 6

MATE 2021 February show canceled due to COVID From The NiILE Organization BILLINGS — The NILE Organization, owner and host of The Montana Agri-Trade Exhibition, also known as The MATE Show & Home and Health Expo, has announced the 45-year long tradition in Billings will not hold its February show.

Based on the current COVID restrictions, considering community health and return on investment to long-time vendors, The MATE Show & Home and Health Expo is unable to host the February event organizers said. In the past 44 years, The MATE Show has grown to more than 600 booths and more

than 18,000 attendees per year. Since its inception in 1975, The MATE Show has brought a total of nearly 450,000 visitors to the city of Billings, with an economic impact of over $3 million annually. “On behalf of the NILE Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and MATE Show

vendors and sponsors, we look forward to seeing you soon,” representatives of the organization said. “Thank you for your interest in The MATE Show and NILE events.” For answers to questions or more information, people can visit http://www.themateshow.com or http://www.thenile.org .

Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council sets virtual meeting Meeting set for Wednesday, Jan. 13 From Montana Department of Agriculture H E L E N A — T h e N o x i o u s We e d Management Advisory Council will meet virtually from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 13.

A draft agenda for the meeting is available on the Montana Department of Agriculture’s Public Notices webpage at http://agr.mt.gov . To receive information to join the virtual meeting, people can contact Carol Bearden, noxious weed program specialist, by phone at 406-444-7880 or by email at cbearden@mt.gov .

Members of the council provide guidance to the Noxious Weed Trust Fund grant program which assists counties, local communities, tribes, researchers and educators in efforts to combat noxious weed problems in Montana. Council members are appointed by the MDA director, and anyone interested in serving on the council can access applications online at

http://agr.mt.gov/NWTF-Council .

The

Montana

Department

of

Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, people can visit http://agr.mt.gov .

suppression program, approved control methods for those species, and 2021 control programs. Other potential topics include grasshopper surveying and management and possible cost share programs. Tim Seipel, MSU Extension cropland weed specialist, will examine antagonistic effects of herbicides. Seipel will speak specifically on tank mixing and important points to consider for herbicide chemistries. Lovreet Shergill, assistant professor of we e d s c i e n c e a t M S U ’s S o u t h e r n Agricultural Research Center, will present “Management of Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Montana Cropping Systems.” Shergill will discuss integrated weed management tactics to manage problematic weeds such as kochia, Russian thistle, wild oats, prickly lettuce, sow thistle, Canada thistle and more. Austin Grazier, director of agricultural safety with the Montana Agriculture Safety Program, will cover farm and ranch safety while highlighting ATV safety. Locations and contact numbers for each cropping seminar are: • Fort Benton: Ag Center, 1205 20th St. Contact Tyler Lane at 406-622-3751. • Denton: Denton Town Hall, 515 Broadway. Contact Katie Hatlelid at 406566-2277. • Havre: Hill County Fairgrounds 4-H Chuckwagon, 1676 U.S. Highway 2 W. Contact Tom Allen at 406-400-2333.

• Chester: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 10 E. Madison Ave. Contact Jesse Fulbright at 406-7595625. • Cut Bank: Cut Bank Elk’s Club, 18 S. Central Ave. Contact Kari Lewis at 406-4662491. • Shelby: Comfort Inn Conference Room, 455 McKinley Ave. Contact Kim Woodring at 406-424-8350. • Choteau: Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. N. Contact Karen Forseth at 406-4662491.

• Great Falls: Cascade County MSU Extension, 3300 Third St. N.E., No. 9, Great Falls. Contact Rose Malisani at 406454-6980. • Conrad: Pondera Shooting Sports Complex, 972 Granite Rd. Contact Adriane Good at 406-271-4054. MSU Extension is an ADA/EO/AA/ Veteran’s preference employer and provider of educational outreach. If participants require accommodation for a disability to participate, they are asked to notify the local Extension Office prior to the event.


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GPS: Technology in agriculture continues to evolve n Continued from page 3 with autosteer because, manually, the driver might end up with too big of a gap between two passes or two rows. Autosteer is going to allow the crop to canopy or provide shade, if the farmer has shade for what they are growing and weeds aren’t able to grow. Therefore, farmers can reduce inputs by using less chemical and the weeds aren’t taking away nutrients or moisture, Rohloff said. “Operator fatigue is something a lot of

guys have cited, how much longer they are able to be in the tractor,” Rohloff said. “When they are not having to manually drive it, both mentally and physically, it depends on how old the tractor is, manually driving it can be a little bit of a chore. I would say mental fatigue would be the biggest thing.” The biggest benefits are reduced inputs and the absence of operator fatigue. In the past few years, the biggest innovations have been section control to

reduce inputs as far as seeding goes, seeding and spraying with the automatic section control. By using GPS with a sprayer it will cut off where sections have already been sprayed a lot more accurately than an operator could, Torgerson’s Ryan Pasch said. “In the past couple of years, they’ve come out with end-of-row functions where the GPS will actually turn the piece of equipment around,” Torgerson’s Chase Stoner said. “So if you have a rectangular

field or a field with nothing in it, once you start going the operator shouldn’t have to touch a switch until the field’s done, where before you would have to manually turn it around after each row.” As technology evolves, farming evolves with it to the point where the farmer is basically in auto-pilot mode. Driving in a straight line or even turning now is guided by satellites eliminating higher costs, operator fatigue and farmers seeing better yields.

FSA: Agency delivers with multiple programs n Continued from page 4 $7.5 billion in direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans, the highest in agency history. This includes more than $3.4 billion for beginning farmers, also an agency record. The 2018 Farm Bill raised the amount producers can borrow, and FSA has seen sharp demand for loans in the past year, especially direct and g u a r a n t e e d fa r m ow n e r s h i p l o a n s. Meanwhile, FSA provided low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks through the Farm Storage Facility Loan program. FSA obligated a

record $340 million in fiscal year 2020. Finally, FSA provided producers with more than $600 million in interim financing in fiscal year 2020 through marketing assistance loans, which help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low. • Safety net programs: FSA held 2020 enrollment for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs, where producers signed more than 1.7 million contracts. Election and enrollment for 2021 ARC and PLC is underway, and those enrolled for the 2019 crop year

received more than $5 billion in payments in the fall. Last week, FSA wrapped up the 2021 signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage program, where more than 17,000 dairy operations enrolled in the risk management program. Operations that enrolled for coverage in 2019 and 2020 have received more than $500 million. • Conservation: FSA held its 54th general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program, the first since 2016, and enrolled 3.4 million acres into the program. Additionally, FSA rolled out two new CRP p i l o t s, t h e S o i l H e a l t h a n d I n c o m e Protection Program and CLEAR30, and is preparing for next year with the CRP general signup beginning Jan. 4, 2021 and the CRP Grasslands signup beginning March 15, 2021. • Critical program delivery: FSA worked closely with the FPAC Business Center to build and implement programs during the pandemic, including CFAP 1, CFAP 2 and the Seafood Trade Relief Program. CFAP 2 was developed and deployed within six weeks. Through STRP, FSA helped U.S. fishermen who have been impacted by unfair retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments. Signup is ongoing for STRP through Jan. 15, and so far, FSA has approved 6,300 applications for more than $154 million in relief payments.

Additionally, because many applicants applying for CFAP and STRP had not worked with FSA previously, the agency stood up a call center to help producers ask questions about FSA programs and get a jump start on program applications. The call center has received over 25,000 calls, including over 800 in Spanish, since its inception in May. FSA is a part of the Farm Production and Conservation mission area at USDA. Other 2020 highlights can be found here. All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict inperson visits or require appointments. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other service center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service centers that are open for appointments will prescreen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Program delivery staff will continue to work with producers by phone, email and using online tools. More information can be found at htp://farmers.gov/coronavirus . USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

www.havredailynews.com Fully autonomous tractors navigate using lasers that bounce signals off of mobile transponders located around the field, accompanied by 150 MHz signals to improve line-of-sight issues. Drivers are replaced by controllers which can supervise on multiple fields from one location. The biggest advancement in farming in recent years is using GPS positioning accompanied by automation software which manages the vehicle’s path and controls for farming implements. A receiver and on-board computer are generally used to receive commands from the remote command station. Doug Weist, who runs and operates FarmTech LLC out of Chouteau said, like GPS in a car or cellphone, tractors use satellites in agriculture, and there are several constellations — patterns of satellites — in the heavens now, so there are a lot of different satellites out there. They are all circling the earth and an agricultural producer can have a sensor on a tractor that can get that information without any other sources to about 10 feet. “We call it autonomous correction signal, for about $3,000 a year, and (we can) get that tractor to about a half inch for repeatable accuracy out on the fields. Because we are locating it, we can also do other things.” Weist said. “We can set up a guidance line, map boundaries, have the tractor steer itself, turn the implement on and off where it has or hasn’t been, turn sections off rows, auto turn at the end of a field. We still need a person in the tractor.” Weist said that, probably in the mid’90s, manufacturers started to add GPS to fertilizer spreaders. That was mostly by big cooperatives in the mid-west and these spreaders were still steered by hand. What they were doing was using variable rating lines. M o n ta n a fa r m e rs p u t d ow n h u ge amounts of lime to increase PH. One of the first applications was with the maps on a big line spreader in changes in rate of application. That was probably the mid’90s and early 2000s when autosteer came around, Weist said. First, it was complicated with not very good hydraulics. Then, around 2010, there were some lower cost steering units. They were electric and easy to resolve so a lot of farmers bought those.

FARM & RANCH

A modern combine featuring GPS technology harvests wheat.

“It just kind of evolved from there. Manufacturers started providing the tractors with it in it,” Weist said, “meaning the tractors are ready to steer. It’s all wired up for GPS consoles and then, like today, a new one rolls off the factory — it has a modem inside of it. It can locate itself within an inch. It’s got all kind of sensors and cameras. It’s like a brandnew Chevy or what a BMW car does.” The biggest upside to GPS units in tractors, according to Weist, is they allow farmers to work longer hours and later h o u rs i n c o n d i t i o n s t h ey o t h e r w i s e couldn’t. GPS allows people to work bigger equipment and where the yield and fertilizer savings comes is like variable rate. Changing the rate of fertilizer across the field, mapping the variability in the fields and doing something about it. “Those technologies have been around for a while, but the adoptive rate has been kind of slow in America. In Europe it’s totally different and that has been coming on strong in the U.S., that’s where we’re taking some kind of data and making a different management system across those fields in key locations,” Weist said. “That is where guys are starting to see increases in yield and decreases in fertilizer.” In the future, more and more producers will be putting GPS in their tractors. If

Courtesy photo via Pixabay.com

they do have it, they’re likely not using all of the features so some of those features for variable rate fertilizer, remote customer support, automated turning on the ends, individual nozzle control and laser mounted fertilizer sensors are not being utilized, Weist said. C H S Key A g ro n o my S p e c i a l i s t Christian Rohloff specializes in the spreading of fertilizer and explained the process of how autosteer works. “So there is an electrical box typically attached inside the steering column of the tractor, and then you have a GPS, which

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is called a globe, placed on top of the tractor or combine that is talking to the satellites up in space.” Rohloff said. “Typically, when you pull into a field and you get your equipment set up, you set what is called a point A, ‘I’m starting at this spot,’ drive to the other end of the field and then set a point B, and it snaps into a straight line. Typically, between those two points … your autosteer will then move you over, it knows how wide your equipment is … it will steer you as you need to.” The driver still has to turn at the end of the field despite whatever equipment they are using. The precision now is within inches of your last round in the field. GPS units, even when someone stops for whatever reason, the unit will remember the position in the field. “The biggest benefits of using autosteer are reduced wasted inputs, because typically if you’re trying to manually drive a tractor it’s fairly difficult to keep it in a straight line. It seems like it would be fairly easy, but it is quite difficult.” Rohloff said. “So you’re not getting an even space, say every time you turn around. You have a little bit of wiggle there, so sometimes you end up with overlap, sometimes you end up with a space too big that you intended to between when you are going one way now you’re going another way. Reduced inputs, I would say is the biggest one, from a lack of overlap especially on the field lands or headlands” Farmers also get better weed control

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Technological evolutions revitalize farming Grant Evans gevans@havredailynews.com With advances in global positioning systems and autosteer, farmers’ lives have become less stressful and more cost-efficient, and they have seen a spike in higher yields as tractors drive themselves. Driverless tractors have a long history predating these technological advancements. Frank W. Andrew as early as 1940 invented the driverless tractor. A fixed wheel or barrel would be put in the center of a field attached to the steering arm of the tractor and a cable would be wound to make the tractor drive in straight lines. Ford around the same time developed “The Sniffer,” but it wasn’t produced because it couldn’t be operated without cables being dug into the ground. It wasn’t until 1994 when engineers developed a picture analysis system which could guide small driverless tractors to work vegetable and root crops. The tractor with this technology could even handle slight headland turns. Currently, driverless technologies have been centered around recent developments in unmanned agricultural technology. Precision agriculture saw a technological revolution in the ’80s as a result of global positioning systems, or GPS, with the aid of on-board computers, focused on maximizing returns while using minimum resources. What would come next in 2012 were semi-automated tractors. Then the tractors had drivers, but the farmer only would have to navigate the headlands. Courtesy photo via Pixabay.com A modern combine featuring GPS technology harvests wheat.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ELIZABETH SHIPSTEAD For Farm & Ranch GLASGOW — “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ The other day I saw this cartoon image of a hallway with a door labeled “2021” around the corner. Hiding behind this corner were several cartoon characters, carefully peeking around the corner at the door and with a long broom stick just barely opening it. It made me laugh, but I can relate to that feeling of trepidation and unsureness over this coming year. 2020 sure has been one for the record books hasn’t it?! Disrupted cattle markets, a crazy election, drought, chaotic grain markets, fires, a pandemic, fear, unrest, anger, anxiety, stress. I don’t know about you, but I have been affected by all of these at some point or another this year. As we close out 2020, I think we’d all agree that we’d like to put most of what started in 2020 in the rearview mirror. We may not be able to do that, but I was reminded of the verse above, as I thought about the holidays ahead and starting the New Year. Isaiah’s message was originally given to the people of Israel, but now it is meant for all of us. Israel had experienced invading and conquering nations, sending them into unrest and uncertainty. It seems to me that we can relate to a lot of that. Our country may not be under the rule of another country, but I do know that I often feel like this pandemic is controlling our lives. We consider the security of our homes, families and livelihood as t h e m a r ke t s a n d we a t h e r f l u c t u a t e. Sometimes I wonder, just like the Israelites probably did, “God are you here?” “Have you forgotten about us?” I know He hasn’t forgotten about us and I know He’s here with us. One of the ways I know that is because of the reminder of who God is in Isaiah 9:6. “Wonderful Counselor” – superb, great, incredible, advisor, confidant, expert. What a peace giving experience it is to consult this incredible, confidant, during the good years but most definitely during the rough years. “Mighty God” - no synonyms are needed for this name. This God created the world, orchestrates our lives, knows our beginning and our end. Just as in our childhood we thought our daddies could do anything, this Mighty God actually can and will. We need to ask and seek Him above all else. “Everlasting Father” - constant, without end, indestructible, boundless, Father. It doesn’t matter the location, the type of challenge, our faithfulness or lack thereof, the color of our skin, our culture, our age,

our political leaning, He has made a way for us to come before Him and lay all of it, at His feet and let Him, as our Boundless Father, help us through. “Prince of Peace” – ruler over and way maker for peace with God. We live in a broken world. We don’t often feel peace in our lives or see peace in our world, but one place we can have peace is with God. Through Him we can continue to experience His peace while living in a world full of unrest. Jesus, God’s Son, is the way maker for us to experience that piece. So as we look ahead to next year and wonder about how the issues started in 2020 will end, and what 2021 could potentially bring, I hope you will join with me in understanding, acknowledging, and actively living with the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is just as much alive and active now, as He was all those years ago in Isaiah’s time.

Elizabeth Shipstead www.theruralsisterhood.com Getting into the Christmas spirit with a carriage ride with Santa (Gage Murray) (Angela Murray is driving the team) in Miles City!

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Technological evolutions revitalize farming


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