Early this fall Ag Leader announced our new AgFiniti, cloud-based and wireless system. There has been a lot of talk about “the cloud” recently. Depending on who you are talking to, the cloud can be simple storage of files, to streaming movies, and chatting. While the video below gives a nice overview, I’ll go into a few more details on what AgFiniti is and how it can be useful with your business.Keep Reading
If you have followed my posts, you have seen a few that mention field trials (either by accident, or just observations in the field), and what you can learn from them. For those that are interested in doing trials, but not interested in the time it typically takes, there are tools in SMS to create them ahead of time and load as a prescription if you are properly equipped. Whether you are variably applying products across a field, and want a check strip, or if you area applying a fixed rate, and want to do a few different rates, SMS has the tools to assist you.Keep Reading
After this fall’s harvest was over, I think many of us where looking forward to saying goodbye to 2012. We had mixed results this year on our farm, some better than expected, some worse. During the late summer/early fall scouting season, we were noticing some patterns in a part of the field, but from the ground it was hard to see the cause of the pattern.Keep Reading
Ag Leader is excited to announce a new optional module for SMS Advanced software - the plot prescription module! This module gives users the ability to strategically define in-field research plots in the office and then export them for planting in the field. Having the ability to create plots utilizing all of your available data in SMS Advanced, including grain harvest, elevation, soil survey and more, provides a greater awareness of the in-field variances that may affect a crops yield.Keep Reading
One of the new features that we are excited to release in version 12.5 of SMS Advanced is the new Water Management Module for tiling. This new optional editor allows you to design tile drainage systems in your field by utilizing RTK level GPS elevation data. You can utilize any reference layer such as soil survey data, harvest data, planting and imagery to assist in the design process. Using these layers you can strategically place tile in the areas you need it the most.Keep Reading
This is a question that I get every fall from one of my seed dealers. He is always very interested in what we can do differently to improve for next year from a seed selection standpoint, and sometimes, in general field management. As the weather has shown us this year, we can do everything right, but in the end, Mother Nature has the final say.Keep Reading
One of the most popular tools in SMS Advanced is the Multi Year Averages tool. This allows you to take multiple years of the same kind of data (such as Harvest) and merge the data into one layer. This allows you to see trends in the fields such as where the different areas of productivity are in the field. For fields you have worked over the years, you probably have a feeling for these zones already, but this tool allows you to put numbers to those zones. You can filter years of data that falls outside of the normal, such as from hail damage, or other anomalies.Keep Reading
This has certainly been an interesting growing season. Each growing season presents itself with new challenges, and an opportunity to learn something new. Some of these are planned, some are surprises.Keep Reading
Over the last several years, we have heard more and more about the environmental impacts in the Gulf of Mexico with regard to the Hypoxia zone where the Mississippi enters the Gulf of Mexico. While the size and impact of this zone changes from year to year, the region has had a difficult time dealing with the side effects of the situation. (Click here for information about the science of Hypoxia and the side effects.)
There are several areas like this around the world, primarily where watersheds from crop production enter larger bodies of water. There are many causes to nutrient loading of waterways that contribute to the Hypoxic zone off the coast of Louisiana and other places around the world - some agriculture related and some industrial. Generally, it is those that have the loudest voice that the general public listens to and remembers.
Many are blaming nutrient (mostly Nitrate and Phosphorous) runoff from agriculture that flows into the Mississippi river for causing the problem. What doesn’t get as much attention is municipal sewer systems that can’t handle springs like 2008 when there were 25 inches of rain in 4 weeks. The “blame” is shared by industry, agriculture, and other sources for the problems in the Gulf of Mexico.
Recently I learned of a Task Force – formed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa State University – that is attempting to get a grasp on what role agriculture plays in the problem. This is a pro-active approach that has the intent to collect real data about the contribution of nutrient loading from Iowa. Each state along the Mississippi River is required to have a nutrient reduction strategy, but many are waiting in hopes of receiving federal dollars to help with it. Iowa, however, is moving forward because this is an important topic that needs to be looked at sooner rather than later. I commend IDALS for having the foresight to take a pro-active approach to collect real data. As we have learned from similar situations, a knee-jerk reaction without collecting enough data to make a good decision can eventually impede progress.
I have a new recommendation that you won’t find at any university.
If you are a regular follower of some of the blog postings over the last few months, you know that I have provided some tips to make the soil sampling process go smoothly, as well as tips to collect the “best” soil test for measuring the fertility of your farm.
Well, last weekend was the time to put my thoughts into action as I sampled the farms that my dad and I operate. I had everything on the checklist taken care of: the soil points pre-determined, the sample bags pre-labeled, the hand-held charged and the 4-wheeler full of fuel. I got a good start and was sampling by 4-wheeler headlights at 6:45; however, sometimes all the planning in the world can still encounter a glitch.
On one of the last samples for the first field, I got off the 4-wheeler like I had done for all the other samples. As I was getting ready to take the first step, I caught my foot on a corn stalk, rolled my ankle and I heard (and felt) a “pop.” The next thing I knew I was on the ground clutching my ankle. I stumbled to the 4-wheeler, dug out my cell phone and called my local medic (side note: I’m blessed to have two family members that are trained medical professionals. My wife is a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer who has seen and treated dozens of sprains, broken ankles and joint replacements. My mom, who is a Registered Nurse, is extremely helpful in triaging which injuries require emergency room assessment and which are less critical.)
So who would you call? That’s what I thought too, so I asked my mom, “What does a broken ankle feel like?” She replied, “Well, it hurts… what did you do?” After I explained the situation she said she’d meet me by the field and take a look at it, but since I was able to walk, she said it probably wasn’t broken. Being a true farmer, I took the last two samples for the field I was in and by the time she got there I must have "walked it off" because I was walking pretty well. We determined that we’d see what it looked like by that evening and decide then if I need to see the doc. So I proceeded to take another 140 acres of soil samples and then disc chisel until about 9:00 that night. It was starting to swell up after sitting in the tractor but wasn’t too bad, all things considered.
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For those who are wondering why I didn’t call my wife from the field, she was 150 miles away at the time, and I figured that if I needed a ride to the doc, Mom was probably able to get me there a bit quicker. It had nothing to do with me not wanting to hear her say, “Now what did you do?” (Incidentally this wasn’t my first farm related injury this harvest season.)
I felt that the farming activities I continued with after I sprained my ankle that day were probably very therapeutic. However, my wife - who actually has a degree in a health care field - has a different opinion. Luckily my ankle is healing very well, but I think I’m going to purchase stock in ibuprofen, ice packs and ACE wraps, as that is now a part of my daily routine.
In light of my sampling experience, I’d like to add a few items for the checklist before going to the field, as you never know what unexpected problems may arise.
- Cell phone with a good charge
- A simple, well stocked first aid kit in every vehicle, including an instant ice pack
- The foresight to look where you step
Hopefully everyone had a safe harvest this year, and the last few jobs for the season go smoothly!