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AG Mag Central Iowa

Bro@dening their

horizons

Broadband technology has paved the way for an information superhighway that zig-zags through much of the U.S. But millions of rural Americans are still stuck on a gravel road, left in the dust by high-speed internet. That could finally be changing.

A

PUBLICATION • FALL 2018

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 371 NEWTON, IA 50208 P.O. Box 967 Newton, IA 50208 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED


AG Mag Magazine Editor Rusty Schrader Page Design Rusty Schrader Reporters & Photographers Christopher Braunschweig, P. M. Brannock, Jamee Pierson, & Orrin Shawl and Pam Eggemeier, Alex T. Paschal, Rachel Rodgers

NORTH

M AG AG

Managing Editor Mike Mendenhall

RAL ILLINO I NT

S

Publisher & Advertising Manager Dan Goetz

CE

Central Iowa

COVERSTORY

Index BROADENING THEIR HORIZONS

Broadband technology has paved the way for an information superhighway that zig-zags through much of the U.S. But millions of rural Americans are still stuck on a gravel road, left in the dust by high-speed internet. That could finally be changing.

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Cover illustration Alex T. Paschal Published by News Publishing Co. 200 First Ave. East Newton, IA 50208 641-792-3121 Articles and advertisements are the property of News Publishing Co. No portion of the Central Iowa Ag Mag may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of News Publishing Co. The information in this magazine is believed to be accurate; however, News Publishing Co. cannot and does not guarantee its accuracy. News Publishing Co. cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this magazine.

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Index BIG OIL VS. BIG CORN

THE TECH FIELD Farming has taken a turn for the better, as a growing number of farmers put high-tech tools in the driver’s seat.

Politics really does make strange bedfellows; the oil industry and environmental groups are on the same page: They both want the EPA to pump the brakes on President Trump’s directive that E15 be sold year-round.

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HARVEST TIME Photo pages PAGES 10-11

BIN THERE. DONE THAT

DELIVERY SERVICE Some FFA members had a field day recently, combining community service with a meal fit for a farmer.

There’s a lot going against the grain: A tariff-fueled trade war, uncertainty over the fate of a farm bill, and soft commodity prices – and that has farmers hedging their bets, keeping commodities in storage and hoping for a better deal.

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FILLING ORDERS For siblings, business is all about the pies, and they’ve been earning their just desserts for more than 20 years.

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AG Mag

3


Bro@dening their

horizons

Broadband technology has paved the way for an information superhighway that zig-zags through much of the U.S. But millions of rural Americans are still stuck on a gravel road, left in the dust by high-speed internet. That could finally be changing.

4 Fall 2018


BY CHRISTOPHER BRAUNSCHWEIG For Central Iowa Ag Mag

CE

Rusty Schrader/SVM photo illustration

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High-speed internet access is not a luxury anymore. In fact, says U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, it’s ore than 23 million people across the nation are essential to everyday life, especially for rural Iowans. estimated to fall within rural broadband coverWhile traveling across Iowa’s second congressional district age gaps, and an injection of federal dollars is – which covers most of the southeastern section of the state, being put toward closing the digital divide during the including Jasper County – Loebsack said he has spoken with several farmers and members of the agrinext several years. IOWA A AL G cultural community about some of the advanced The federal government’s fiscal year 2018 R T technology used to assist in planting and monispending bill included $1 billion for rural toring crops; technology that ceases to function infrastructure, including $600 million in new effectively without fast broadband coverage. funds to develop a pilot program to help bring After collaborating with U.S. Congressman broadband to rural areas of the country. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, the two legislators – coThe U.S. Department of Agriculture estiCOVERSTORY chairs of the House Rural Broadband Caucus mates that the $1 billion will spur a $4.7 billion – helped pass the Precision Agriculture Conincrease over the previous year in the funding of nectivity Act this year to further the advancement rural infrastructure projects, and the total investment of farmers and to “evaluate the best ways to meet the in rural communities’ infrastructure through USDA probroadband connectivity and technological needs of pregrams will total $13.5 billion in this fiscal year. The focus of the pilot program is to improve broadband cision agriculture,” according to a press release posted on Loebsack’s website in July. services for as many rural American homes, businesses, CONTINUED TO PAGE 6 farms, schools and health care facilities as possible.

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 “Basically, it’s going to help farmers in rural communities to take advantage of new technologies that are out there,” Loebsack said in a phone interview. “… Rural communities often don’t have as much access to high-speed broadband connectivity, so the agriculture community has difficulty integrating all the advanced technologies out there.” That’s something Tracy Decker, general manager of Partner Communications Cooperative in Baxter, knows all too well, and it’s a challenge he and his team work on daily to overcome. Heavily regulated by the FCC, Partner Communications Cooperative “provides communication and automation services to communities in east-central Iowa” through “advanced broadband technology” and other support services, according to the company’s website. The company aims to create fiber networks for rural homes and farms, making sure people living outside a more heavily populated city can have access to quality and high-speed broadband services for both casual and professional use. Decker said one of the challenges of providing quality internet to rural homes is the cost, which averages about $20,000 per mile to install fiber optics. “So when we have two-and-a-half customers a mile – that’s hard to pay for that,” Decker

said. “So therein lies the very problems with broadband in rural communities. The cost to the consumer does not pay the bill.” The Federal Communications Commission is working to reduce the cost of broadband deployment by eliminating some regulatory barriers and by freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband. The FCC also started the first Connect America Fund auction earlier this year, giving out nearly $1.5 billion nationwide to incentivize providers to bring broadband and voice services to rural areas at an affordable price. The agency is working toward the launch of a $4.53 billion Mobility Fund Phase II auction to expand 4G LTE wireless coverage throughout rural America, and the Connect America Fund is providing more than $9 billion for rural broadband in areas served by large carriers. In October, Microsoft announced joining forces with a company called Network Business Systems to offer broadband access to more than 126,000 people in 11 counties in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. That plan spans to Scott, Clinton, and Muscatine counties in Iowa, and Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island, Warren, and Whiteside counties in Illinois. The company’s overall goal is to expand rural broadband to 2 million in the next 5 years.  – Shaw Media reporter Rachel Rodgers contributed to this story

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Big Oil vs. Big Corn R

BY P.M. BRANNOCK For Central Iowa Ag Mag

ows of corn cover the rolling hills of central Iowa like tawny, undulating blankets. On Roger Zylstra’s farm in Kellogg, almost 400 acres of the golden grain stretch across his 750 crop acres. Zylstra, a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and vice president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, partners with a neighbor to farm approximately 1,450 acres, the average size of an operation in central Iowa. “Maybe a little on the small side,” Zylstra said after he changed out of coveralls he wore to sort hogs on an October morning. CONTINUED TO PAGE 8

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Politics really does make strange bedfellows; the oil industry and environmental groups are on the same page: They both want the EPA to pump the brakes on President Trump’s directive that E15 be sold year-round

GRAIN AG Mag

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Photo courtesy of The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil

Donald Trump supporters donned ponchos displaying MAGA – “Make America Great Again” – while walking to the MidAmerica Center in Council Bluffs on Oct. 9. Some farmers hope that Trump’s announcement of the E15 waiver at the rally will increase marketing opportunities for central Iowa farmers. 3CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 Combined, Zylstra and his neighbor will plant between 700 and 800 acres in corn each year. The Chicago Board of Trade (CBT), which Zylstra calls a “price discovery vehicle,” sets the price for corn and soybeans in central Iowa. Zylstra markets his corn at a cooperative in Sully, nine miles from his farm, where bids for corn hover around $3.20 per bushel. “We currently have about a minus-53 cent basis off the Chicago price,” meaning farmers receive 53 cents less per bushel than indicated on the CBT, Zylstra explains. “Typically this time of year, we might be more in that 35 to 40 cents off the price, so we’re another 13 cents down than usual on our price because there is such a large supply.” Zylstra hopes that President Donald Trump’s announcement of the E15 waiver at a Council Bluffs rally at the Mid-American Center in early October will increase marketing opportunities for central Iowa farmers. The waiver would allow consumers to buy gasoline containing 15 percent 8 Fall 2018

ethanol year-round instead of only from October through May. “The potential, of course,” Zylstra said, “ is that we could add another 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol production in five years.” Opponents of the rule change say a higher level of corn-based ethanol during the summer would increase smog, depleting the ozone layer, polluting water and endangering the ecosystem. Others are concerned that the higher blend can damage engines in vehicles and other equipment. While environmental groups have threatened to take legal action to block the summer waiver, the biggest challenge to the rule change is the oil industry. After years of gearing up an elaborate public relations campaign against the waiver, oil interests have publicly said they will sue the EPA if the rule is changed. Trump wants to have the new rules in place in time for next year’s summer driving season. The EPA has said it should have a draft of the rule out in February and a finalized version on the books

before the end of May. That is an ambitious undertaking, considering that most EPA rule changes take at least a year to finalize. The five-percent increase in ethanol fuel additive for only four months of the year may relieve depressed prices without causing a spike in corn production. Farmers in central Iowa typically don’t deviate from their corn and soybean rotation each planting season, and because of depressed prices and decreased demand for corn, kernels fill grain bins throughout the state. According to the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa leads the United States in on-farm grain storage with the capacity to hold 2.1 billion bushels. The state has also seen 40 million bushel addition of off-farm grain storage capacity since December 2016. The increase in storage capabilities may, in part, result from the Trump administration’s waivers exempting smaller oil refineries from adding ethanol to a greater portion of their product. CONTINUED TO PAGE 94


U.S. ethanol production capacity by state

Production facilities

(Million gallons per year)

3CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 “The refinery waivers have been concerning to us,” said Zylstra, who has been lucky enough to move his product and empty his bins every year. “Market dynamics are extremely different than what we’ve experienced in the last several years due to the political environment and other things that are happening. It makes it really difficult when we don’t have stable prices and a stable outlook for trade.” Zylstra, however, remains optimistic and described the E15 waiver as “completely beneficial” and hopes that E15 will replace E10 year round. “We think that it’s a positive for both consumers and the corn industry,” Zylstra continued. “It means lower-priced fuel. E15 is typically selling for three cents to five cents – or even eight cents – cheaper than E10. We can get the same mileage; cars perform very well with this. On every gallon of fuel that you use, if you save a

nickel, over a year’s time, that’s a couple hundred dollars.” Despite the general enthusiasm surrounding the E15 waiver, Tim Gannon – candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture whose family has been farming in Mingo, Iowa, since 1888 – remained cautious after the announcement. Gannon’s family plants approximately 630 acres of their 950-acre farm in corn each year. “Last year,” Gannon said during a phone call, “prices were definitely lower than we’d like to have seen them, but we had good yields that helped make up for that.” He, too, believes the E15 waiver will augment corn prices and increase consumer choice. “But with one very important caveat,” Gannon said. “Expanded opportunities for consumers to use higher blends of ethanol will be good for creating demand for biofuels as long as the EPA stops handing out waivers to refiners. Over the last

two years, the EPA handed these out at much faster rates than they have done before. It reduced the demand by 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol and 300 million gallons of biodiesel. If you did some quick napkin math, that’s roughly a billion bushels of corn.” Gannon also wondered whether the EPA will have enough time to finalize the E15 waiver by June 1, and whether gas stations will be able to change their infrastructure to enable the waiver to take full effect. If the ethanol waiver’s implementation proceeds smoothly and refinery waivers flatline, Zylstra’s prediction of increased ethanol production might become reality. For the coming months, farmers in central Iowa will continue to look at their bronzed piles of grain that, currently, aren’t worth their weight in gold and hope that the E15 waiver will increase their value. n – Shaw Media reporter Pam Eggemeier contributed to this story AG Mag

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H

arvest time PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER BRAUNSCHWEIG/CENTRAL IOWA AG MAG

Farmer Will Cannon maneuvers his combine through a cornfield between Monroe and Prairie City.

Cannon empties corn into a grain cart.

10 Fall 2018


Farmers were working tirelessly to harvest their crops during one of too few dry days this fall on an approximately 60-acre cornfield between Monroe and Prairie City, after a week-and-a-half of heavy rainfall. The uncompromising weather prevented many Iowa farmers from harvesting corn and soy beans in a timely manner.

Grain is emptied into a truck on its way to its next destination.

After the corn is harvested, the machines expel the leftover stalks and cobs onto the field.

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Delivery service Some FFA members had a field day recently, combining community service with a meal fit for a farmer

F

BY JAMEE PIERSON For Central Iowa Ag Mag

FA is an extracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. Spanning a variety of topics, FFA members get hands-on experience every day in the classroom and beyond pursuing ideas fostered by their curiosity of the field of agriculture. CONTINUED TO PAGE 134

12 Fall 2018


Jamee A. Pierson for Central Iowa Ag Mag

Students wrote thank you notes on each one of the lunch sacks.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 One project that made a lasting impression not only on the students but on the local farming community was completed by the Diamond Trail FFA at PCM High School. An act as simple as creating a sack meal not only gave students a better understanding of just how much of a time commitment it takes to be a farmer, but showed appreciation for the work they do. “At state convention about two years ago, a group did something similar to it. We have a lot of farmers in our group so we thought it would be something that would work with their schedules,” FFA member Allison Wood said. “It was not something that was necessarily a problem but just a nice, generous offer we could do.” As a group, donations were collected over three weeks and then assembled into meals during class time. That evening, groups went out in the Monroe and Prairie City areas to deliver the 200 meals to grateful farmers. “We had turkey sandwiches and cheese and we had bags of chips and a note along with a bottle of water,” Wood said. “We also fed not just the farmer, but entire families. A lot of people were posting thank-you’s on Facebook that night.” CONTINUED TO PAGE 14

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PCM Senior FFA member Allison Woods talks about the Meals for Farmers program. 3CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 Wood said the group brainstormed every farmer they knew and then narrowed the number down. When deciding who deliver the meals to, they classified them between big-time grain farmers and those who also have cattle. FFA adviser Amber Samson said the process started as a class assignment and blossomed into community service. “I am super proud of them for coming up with the idea and following through with it,” Samson said. “It was an assignment in a class for them to come up with a concept to help their community. Then if they were to deliver it, it would be even more awesome. There was no grade attached to that; it was just find a need, find a way to fix that need, and develop a plan. Them actually going out and doing it was pretty cool. It turned out for the best and had a lot of shout-outs on social media.” Wood, a high school senior, said she hopes the group continues the project in the years to come. “Some many people end up eating bags of chips in tractors. Not everyone gets meals brought out to them,” Wood said. “I think it was just something unexpected after a crappy two weeks of rain. It was something nice we could do.” n 14 Fall 2018

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Bin there Done that There’s a lot going against the grain: Uncertainty over the farm bill’s fate, a tariff-fueled trade war, soft commodity prices – and that has farmers hedging their bets, keeping commodities in storage and hoping for a better deal

W

BY ORRIN SHAWL For Central Iowa Ag Mag

ith the way corn and soybeans yield rates are expected to increase for 2018, farmers have a surplus of grain coming from their fields. Unfortunately, according to Prairie City Heartland Co-op manager Phil Foertsch, that could mean farmers may not make as much money with their excess amount of crops. “Right now, there’s a surplus of corn and beans, which is bad for the farmers because it drives their price down because there are too many bushels,” Foertsch said. Making matters worse, farmers are surrounded by uncertainty and a market facing its share of challenges. They’re about to enter the fifth year of what could be a 7-year down cycle for commodities prices. In the past 4 years, net farm income has dropped by nearly 50 percent from the highs reached between 2011 and 2014. It has been the worst stretch for the ag economy since the farm crisis of the 1980s. In addition, Congress still hasn’t produced a new farm bill, letting the 2014 version expire Sept. 30. The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the legislation. Lawmakers are now working to draft a single bill for Congress to approve and send to President Donald Trump for his signature. Keeping the safety net intact is the top priority for farmers. Perhaps the most nervewracking development this year has been the nation’s escalating trade war with China. The fear of tariffs has sent commodity prices even lower since the first round of the president’s proposals was announced March 22. China has threatened to slap duties on several agricultural products including soy, corn, pork, wheat and dairy products The crop surplus is a topic that every farmer appears to be aware of. While they have plenty of product, they are

running out of bin space, leaving a portion of the farmer’s hard work to go to waste. “The local farmers are all talking about it. But it’s the entire agriculture industry talking about it also. Your processors and users all have plenty of grain on hand,” Foertsch said. “They can get plenty of grain, it’s not like they’re sitting there needing it or wanting it while the farmers don’t have it. The farmers do have it, and there’s plenty to get.” Typically, the farmers store it in their bins at home. They store it there watching prices, hoping for a favorable uptick before they sell. This time of year, there’s always plenty of crops for them to store, and then deliver it at a later day, hoping the price will go up higher at that time. Farmers are less likely to transport their crops to the bins at a co-op, as opposed to the bins at their home, due to the extra amount of time it takes to process them. “They’ll try to acquire more bins, and try to store it in all of their bins. At this time of year, if they try to transport it and store it at our bins here, the lines will get bad and they can’t get their crop out as fast,” Foertsch said. “With storage at home, if the lines get bad here, they can just store them at home and helps them be able to get their crops out faster.” In terms of bushels, the biggest bin at Heartland Co-op in Newton is 500,000 bushels. And the smaller three are around 130,000 bushels. Four of them are 160,000 bushel, two of them are 330,000 bushel. For Brian Titus, AMS specialist at Van Wall John Deere, he said he recognizes this dilemma for farmers on a yearly basis, and sees at-home bins used in favor of co-op bins on a regular basis. “As far as bins go, everyone is trying to do on-farm storage,” Titus said. “They can typically make more money if they store it on the farm because you’re not going to get as good of a price in the fall while the crop is harvested. So they’ll actually sell it at a later date.” n

AG Mag

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For siblings, business is all about the pies, and they’ve been earning their just desserts for more than 20 years

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or more than two decades, sisters Elaine Keuning and Amy Barton have been working in the kitchen baking homemade pies. From starting in their home to moving to their first commercial kitchen in Des Moines, and finally opening their own space in Monroe, All About Pies features a taste for just about anyone. “I kind of started it in 1995. We just did it with our mom helping out of the home,” Keuning said. CONTINUED TO PAGE 17

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From making the crust to scooping in the fruit, each piece of the piemaking process is completed by the sisters behind All About Pies. They hand roll the crust, scoop in fresh fruit pie filling, and pinch the top crust into place. Submitted photos

3CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16 Barton specializes in the crust, rolling and crimping each pie crust by hand. She said her mom always told her she was doing it backward because she learned by watching and mirroring her mom’s work. After the crust is prepared, using their own secret recipe, Barton kneads it, rolls it and molds it to the appropriate thickness before draping across the pie tin. As soon as the crust is in place, the pie shifts to Keuning, who places it on a scale and begins scooping in filling until it has reached its ideal size, but don’t look for the scoops to come out of a can. Keuning said they use fresh produce for their pies. “We get individually quick frozen fruit from the local lockers and local grocery stores. We try to keep things as local as we can,” Keuning said. The pie then shifts back to Barton, who adds the top crust and methodically crimps each one until it is ready

Elaine Keuning and Amy Barton, owners of All About Pies, create homemade desserts at their Monroe location. to be packaged and frozen. Among the pies offered are apple, apple crumb, blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cherry, fruits of the forest, gooseberry, peach, red raspberry, rhubarb, straw-

berry rhubarb and triple berry. Seasonal pies include apricot, cran-raspberry, pecan, pumpkin and rhubarb crumb. “Pumpkin and pecan are popular for Thanksgiving,” Keuning said “I think we sell more berry and cherry at Christmas because people are looking for a little more color on the table.” For the women, triple berry is a favorite to make. As for the most popular, apple always comes out on top. “It seems like it is always apple,” Barton said. “I don’t know if that is because it is the most common, but it is a sure thing.” Along with their location at 210 N. Monroe St. in Monroe, All About Pies can be found at P.J.’s Deli in Newton and The Furniture Boutique in Knoxville. During certain seasons, pies also can be found at Jersey Freeze in Monroe, where they are added to ice cream for a special Jersey Freezer, at Bike Night in Monroe, and during the town’s annual Old Settlers celebration. n

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AG Mag

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Prairie City farmer Gordon Wassenaar utilizes an Ag Leader-brand tablet display inside a combine to harvest rows of corn. The GPS system allows him to better harvest and navigate rows of corn.

Christopher Braunschweig/Central Iowa Ag Mag

J

BY ORRIN SHAWL Central Iowa Ag Mag

ust like yesterday’s drivers did with cars and trucks equipped with cruise control, a growing number of today’s farmers are embracing high-tech tools, like GPS-guided implements that make their job easier and their operations more efficient. One such place that has embraced the GPS’s evolution is Van Wall John Deere in Colfax. Brian Titus, AMS Specialist for Van Wall John Deere, said tractors with GPS systems and other up-to-date technology have evolved to the point where it’s almost standard operating equipment. “In fact, next year, auto track activation equipment will be standard equipment,” he said. Tractor and combine companies are using a lot of what’s called machine control, which guides machines using auto

track systems. “We have steering systems on these machine that are keeping things great with accuracy,” Titus said. “We can get a consistent pass-to-pass in the field. It’s saving on inputs, and it’s helping increase profits for the farmer.” For farmers, it can save a lot of time, money and give them less to focus on in the tractor. For example, a farmer can put on planner clutches and suction control which, based on GPS coordinates and a GPS map, determine where they will turn on and off rows. “That way, it will not overlap, therefore saving input costs and increasing profit,” Titus said. John Deere, Ag Leader, and Trimbel are a just few examples of companies that sell this kind of tractor technology. Everything is run through a display, complete with a touch screen with maps

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and displays. Tractors also have a yellow GPS receiver on the top of the tractor, which pulls satellite signals out of the sky. “We’re triangulating on the ground,” Titus said. Machine control units such as GPS systems started in the mid-1990s. It was very crude at that point and very expensive. By 2005, John Deere came out with its first touch display. It progressed throughout the years to where we’re at today. “Next year, this will all be standard and not just an option,” Titus said. “It relieves stress. If you think back to how we did it before, you tried to plant and run off a marker in the field. You really don’t have any way to look around and tell what that monitor was doing. Where now, we can run auto track, you can pay better attention to what the implements are doing, and do a better job.” n

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(712) 779-2228

LENOX

(641) 333-2288

ONAWA

PAULLINA

PACIFIC JUNCTION

PENDER

RED OAK

WINTERSET

(712) 423-2337

(712) 448-3444

(712) 622-8217

(402) 385-2211

(712) 623-4858

(515) 462-3115

Offer expires 12/31/2018. 20% down is required for the 0% for 60 months. With approved credit through John Deere Financial Multi-Use Account. Some restrictions may apply. See dealer for details.

20 Fall 2018

NDN-MAG-11-27-18  

Newton Ag Mag Winter 2018

NDN-MAG-11-27-18  

Newton Ag Mag Winter 2018