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Tag: Farming

Agriculturalist Christmas Presents

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for that special someone in your life, maybe a farmer. Or perhaps an acreage owner, or a ruralist that just enjoys country living, here are 5 recommendations.

These are based on my experience living on an acreage for the last 15 years. Merry Christmas!

1. EGO Power+ Battery Powered Chain Saw

This is my favorite purchase for my farm in the last year! It always starts, you don’t have to mix fuel and oil. It doesn’t leak gas on you, there are no fumes and almost no noise.

This thing is amazing! It’s perfect for trimming trees along fence lines or around the yard. Each charge lasts about 20-minutes of cut time. If you want to cut all-day, get a couple of extra batteries. You can get one with a battery and charger for $279.

2. EGO Power+ Extra Battery

I have 3 batteries and I usually run out of gas before the three batteries are out of power. If that special someone in your life has EGO tools than they’ll love getting another battery and charger. At $145, its a small price to pay to not have to deal with gas cans.

350 Lb Tow Behind Spreader

If you have more than an acre of lawn and apply fertilizer throughout the year, a high capacity spreader is a must. Since most of your time will be driving back to the shed to dump 50 lbs bags, these large spreaders save a bunch of time! While pricey at $599.99 + Shipping, it’ll outlast that chain store spreader that’s built for city yards.

Logitech Farm Simulator Bundle

When it gets too cold and nasty to go out and run the real equipment, keep your operator skills sharp with this heavy equipment bundle. Compatible with PC or PS4 for Farming Simulator 19 features realistic operations. At $249.99 it’s less than the cost of a service call. A small price to pay to stay in field-ready condition.

Snappy Grips

Where have these been my whole life? Why has no one ever told me about these? One spring I moved 5 tons of landscaping rock with 5-gallon buckets. Snappy Grips will make a great stocking stuffer for anyone that uses 5-gallon buckets to feed or water livestock or move stuff around. They’ll fit anyone’s budget at only $10.50 + shipping.

The post Agriculturalist Christmas Presents first appeared on CraigMDick.com

The Most Disruptable Sector of Agriculture

The Most Disruptable Sector of Agriculture

Disruption may be the overused word of 2016. Until there is a better word to describe something that interrupts activity, I will join the disruption band wagon and make this prediction: Humans will be the most disrupted sector of agriculture in the next decade.

Why do I predict this?     $7 corn.

With $7 corn, tech companies sprouted like weeds throughout agriculture. Farming needs this influx of ingenuity. To a large extent, farming is still an art. There is too much data to crunch all the variables. The influx of tech will better help farmers and agronomists take the guess work out (human error) of decision making through better data.

During the $7 era, there was lots of talk of improving agriculture’s’ environmental foot print. When economics are favorable and risk is low everyone is more open to new ideas. Even as farmers struggle to make a profit, their customers still want a cleaner environment.  To ensure farmer profitability (increased production) while sustaining or improving the environment will take a lot more sensors and automation.

Ag labor issues. Even at $7 corn it was difficult to find qualified candidates to do most of agriculture’s jobs. Now that we are back to more realistic prices, labor shortages abound. Trying to find workers for the most labor intensive jobs, picking crops, weeding, and operating equipment is tough. In the next decade, all these operations will be automated.

Once you remove the most expensive, least repeatable process from farming (humans), cost will drop and profits will increase.

You can expect the following jobs to disappear from ag:

  • Truck and equipment drivers
  • Field agronomists, scouts and samplers
  • Fertilizer and grain plant operators
  • Laborers, pickers, pruners, etc.

Essentially, there are 2 jobs on the farm of the future. The owner of the farm and the technician to fix the automated equipment. The rest of us may be left to complain about how food is no longer raised by humans.

 

The post The Most Disruptable Sector of Agriculture first appeared on CraigMDick.com

4 Things that Prove the Future of Farming is Happening Now

As farmers age farming operations become larger, the business of farming will change. Farming is at a cross-roads. You either need to get bigger and more efficient, or more niche. More on all this 4 Things that Prove the Future of Farming is Happening Nowanother time.

Let’s look at some things that seem futuristic but are being implemented now.

Robotics / automation / Exoskeletons / sensors

Farmers have a long history of adopting technology and most are already using GPS and remote sensing. In the next 10 years’ farm automation will see huge leaps forward.

Robots are reducing the need for workers. 60,000 employees at Apple supplier Foxconn were replaced with robots this spring.  This was in China. Where labor is low and Apple margins are high. So here in the US where labor is high, hard to find, margins are low and the work is hard, robots are inevitable. Companies like Blue River Technology are betting big and already have robotic lettuce thinners.

For jobs that will still require human labor, inexpensive and lightweight exoskeletons will be utilized. Today’s prototypes can increase output by 50%. No longer will a strong back be required!

Continuous plant monitoring sensors tell you in real time how the plant responds to light, temperature and number of other measurements. We all know today’s genetic potential for Corn is off the charts. It is plant stress that kills yield. With visual deficiencies taking 2 weeks to show, yield is lost before we even know there is a problem. Utilizing continuous sensors, you will know the minute your plant is suffering and be able to immediately take corrective action to protect yield.

There are challenges to these systems being used on farms. Farmers traditionally are slow to pay enterprise level fees to adopt technology.  Farmers are older and older farmers in today’s markets are risk averse. New tech is risky.

Farmers will ultimately adopt new tech as it shows a cost savings or show a significant return.  Major adoption will come once these technologies are easy to use.

Indoor / vertical farming

Robotic use is further intensified by rethinking what a farm is all together.  Robotic indoor vertical farming can increase food out-put, reduce the environmental foot print and reduce cost all without a single person! There are acres of real estate going unused in cities. Enormous buildings that once housed armies of white collar paper pushers are empty. Malls are closing at alarming rates and even Wal-Mart is shedding stores. What better way to use the real-estate than to maximize food production.

Food quality

The US already produces the world’s safest food.  Still consumers want more. More safety, better quality (as judged by what’s important to them). For traditional terrestrial farmers and for the new robotic indoor farms, meeting the consumer demand for quality will be their number one priority. But isn’t this post about commodity farming? Food quality isn’t just for niche growers. General Mills purchasing Annie’s Organics proves that crops once thought as specialty will become mainstream commodities.

In addition, Successful Farming made waves in the Farming community with their Meet Your New Boss cover. Here’s the thing, Successful Farming is owned by Meredith Corp. they own many magazine titles, EatingWell, Family Circle, and Martha Stewart Living among the better known. They have direct connections to the consumer and know what is wanted.

The Farmer Consumer Connection

With the amount of capital at stake, large commodity farmers will need to understand consumer trends and wants to be profitable. Large farmers of the future will need to understand what the consumer wants before they do and plan production accordingly. Especially with the long lead times in growing food and getting certified for certain types of production.

Major manufactures don’t wait to decide until the last minute what to produce based on the consumer confidence index. They develop business plans and life cycle analysis of products based on a host of research. The best companies and these 3 big food giants are guided by the wants and needs of the consumer.

General Mills is actively looking for hundreds of thousands of acres to fill their need for organic grains to meet the demand. If you haven’t been paying attention to consumer needs, by the time you can meet the requirements, the premiums will be gone.

Farming is always evolving. Where do you see the future of farming heading?

 

The post 4 Things that Prove the Future of Farming is Happening Now first appeared on CraigMDick.com

 

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