HOW DRONES WILL REVOLUTIONIZE AGRICULTURE IN THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS

A few years ago, drones zoomed into the public eye. Since then, they’ve become a much more common sight. Recreational drones are now popular, and various startups and corporations have been developing new ways to use them.

In agriculture, drones are having an especially large impact. As companies continue to innovate new ways they can be used in agriculture and more farmers adopt the technology, drones are likely to revolutionize agriculture in the next five to 10 years. Here are a few benefits they can provide for agriculture.

Improve Efficiency

Drone technology can help farmers make their operations much more efficient, which saves them money and leads to more affordable and abundant food supplies. Drones can do this by helping farmers with all sorts of farming tasks include surveying land, planting seeds and monitoring crops.

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One UK-based startup, BioCarbon Engineering, is developing drone technology that can survey an area, create a planting blueprint and then actually plant seeds. It plants the seeds by launching biodegradable canisters containing a germinated seed and plant nutrients into the ground.

The startup created the idea to replant trees to help stop deforestation, but the idea has a lot of potential for farmers too. Automating the planting process, at least partly, could save them time and money while freeing them up to do other work on their farm.

Higher Yields

Diseases, pests, underwatering and other problems can cause farmers to end up with lower yields. If they can spot these issues early, however, they may be able to put a stop to them before they significantly damage yield.

Drones can help farmers monitor their fields and spot problem areas before they do real harm. Drones can fly over fields and see things from a vantage point you couldn’t get from the ground. They can also regularly monitor crops by flying over and taking photos or sensing conditions. The farmer can review the data from the drones allowing them to identify any changes, even small ones.

When combined with other technologies, drones may be especially useful. Using drones and technology that allows farmers to track equipment location, speed and avoidance zones would help farmers to get a more accurate picture of their entire farming operation.

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Using drones can allow farmers to monitor their crops more quickly and efficiently, which saves them time and money. If they stop problems before they spread, they’ll save their crops and save money. The profits from higher yields may even be worth more than the cost of a drone. When farmers save money, the cost of food may also go down for consumers and the quality of produce may improve as farmers can invest more back into their farming operations.

Environmental Benefits

More accurate field monitoring may have environmental benefits as well. Being able to pinpoint an area where pests are causing problems, for example, allows farmers to target just that area with pesticides. This reduces the amount of chemicals used, which means fewer chemicals will enter the water, get into the air and contaminate other crops.

Stopping those plant diseases and other issues before they spread can help the environment as well. There’s less risk of those diseases spreading to other plants if they’re spotted and stopped early. When farmers are able to harvest more of the crops they plant, they may also be able to plant less. This means more land can be conserved and can continue being a habitat for animals and a hub for plant life and biodiversity.

Agriculture has a huge impact on the environment, especially as human populations continue to rise. Drones may play a part in reducing that impact in the future by allowing for more efficient farming operations. Better yields would also help us face the challenge of feeding our growing population.

5-11-17pexels-photo-248837 (1)Although some worry drones could compromise privacy and cause other issues, there are also plenty of potential benefits from the use of drones. While those fears are certainly not unfounded, the benefits may outweigh the risks if we use them correctly. Responsible use and appropriate regulations will play a part in how beneficial drones are to society. In agriculture, especially, they’re already doing a lot of good and have the potential to do much more as the technology continues to improve.

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Megan Wild
Contributing Writer
Your Wild Home

6 TYPES OF FARM MOMS

As a part of the agriculture community, we have all experienced different types of farm moms. It’s not right to judge or stereotype. Yeah, yeah… yeah. We also know we all do it and it can sometimes even serve a useful purpose. We all know that everyone’s mom has a different personality. That’s why we love them!

Here are six of the most common farm mom types I’ve encountered:

5-9-17fabulous1. The Farm Fabulous Mom

Usually decked out in the latest stock show trends, this mom always looks fabulous. Baby on hip and twisted-x on foot, this mom is always managing to pull it together. Her hair and makeup are done, and she looks amazing at all times even after spending all the day in the barn. Somehow, she always has everything in order. How does she do it!?

5-9-17million2. The Million Farm Animal Mom

We all know a family with a million different livestock on the farm. This mom seems to be just fine getting her three kids to soccer games and the entire barnyard fed on time. She is calm and confident and knows exactly which kid or animal is where and when.

5-9-17chore3. The Soccer (Chore) Mom

She looks like she is always coming from the gym or going to the gym. This is because she is one heck of a chore mom. Her workout is getting the kids ready the chores done, all while burning some major calories. Feeling bitter yet?

5-9-17rolled4. Just Rolled-Off-the-Farm Mom

This mom looks like she literally just came from the farm, well because she did. Yes, that is cow manure on her jeans but it is all part of the job. Sometimes there is no time to change out of those stinky farm clothes, but that’s what being a farm is!

5. The Show Mom

5-9-17showIf your family shows livestock, then more than likely your mamma is a show mom. This mom is always at the show, taking pictures while you are in the ring or balling a tail. She might even have a little black mustache from the fit job on your animal. She is supportive and always there for you win or lose.

6. The Forgetful Mom

“Did I remember to lock the cattle gates before I took the kids to school?” Mom. She might not always remember everything but she loves you and is willing to do what has to for family and livestock.

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Leslie Walker
Lakeland College

EDUCATING NON-FARMERS: WHY WE CARE

I rode the bus to school. Starting in junior high and until I finally had a car my senior year of high school, Bus Driver Louis and his passengers trekked the same path every morning of every school year. Prattville Junior High School (Go Cats!) and Prattville High School (Go Lions!) are separated by less than two miles in the growing suburb of Prattville, Alabama. So do the math and we did the same route at least 1,800 times across 5 years.

The schools are near the outskirts of town and the most common entry point between the two is Powell Road. The namesake belongs to the Powell family who owns most of the land on both sides of the road. Aside from the towing and wrecking service they operate, they farm cotton and sorghum on the surrounding land.

I had no idea that the Powell family farmed cotton or sorghum or even that they regularly farmed the land until searching the internet about 20 minutes ago. Seems strange considering I rode past the farm probably 3,000+ times. Also, it was the only farm that I saw regularly. Yet, I remained ignorant of general farming knowledge until I started working at IL Corn six years later.

So why am I giving you a personal history lesson? To prove a point: Most people, even if they have minimal access to a farm, don’t understand farming. I passed a farm every day for a quarter of my life and still didn’t take the time to learn. My school did not have an ag curriculum. Simply put, a majority of people have a minority of farming knowledge.

Our world depends on farming for sustenance, but non-farmers do not rely on farmers for their knowledge about food and farming. Non-farmers are being influenced by non-farmers based on fancy marketing and nebulous ideas not based in science. That’s where IL Corn comes in. We want to reach people like me who have barely any farming knowledge, have little access to farming, and unwittingly accept information from “experts” who suffer from our same condition (see the previous two items).

Here are the facts. Farms are overwhelmingly family owned and operated, often going back generations. Yeah, we are talking the 19th century, people. Farmers are not beholden to corporations or to government bodies. Also, farming is a booming industry with technological advancements that would stagger any Average Joe or Josephine. So let’s put this together: We have a wealth of straight talking farmers who have holistic knowledge dating back centuries with some of the smartest people making their jobs safer and more efficient. So why are we entranced by people that have overwhelmingly fewer credentials?

We have no intention to denigrate dietitians, food professionals, or people passionate about food. We are all in the same boat here. However, we have to be better about communicating opinions versus facts. At IL Corn, we are striving to connect with non-farmers and invigorate self-directed learning about farming without the black veil of clever marketing. To trust our food, we must trust our farmers. To trust our farmers, we must take the time to meet them.

It is okay to question. It is okay to doubt. It is not okay to take facts for granted. You want the truth. Farmers want to give the truth. Let’s meet in the middle.

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Taylor McDonald
Communications Assistant
IL Corn

#TBT AG BOOK REVIEW FOR CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK!

May 2 through 8 marks Children’s Book Week AND Teacher Appreciation Week . Why not celebrate both with a touch of Agriculture? Students across Illinois continue to face an emphasis on reading and literature, so linking agriculture would be a natural fit. Several new books are featured on the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom website […]

This post originally published May 5, 2011.  For #TBT, maybe you’d like to surprise one of your teachers with a little bit of agriculture?  This year, Teacher Appreciation Week is May 8-12, 2017.

May 2 through 8 marks Children’s Book Week AND Teacher Appreciation Week . Why not celebrate both with a touch of Agriculture?

Students across Illinois continue to face an emphasis on reading and literature, so linking agriculture would be a natural fit. Several new books are featured on the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom website and I wanted to share some highlight with you here!

As a former History teacher, one of my favorites is Farmer George Plants a Nation  by Peggy Thomas. This is the story of George Washington’s life as farmer, and the impact agriculture had on his life. We have a companion lesson plan guide featuring lessons related to Soil, Trees, Horses, Agricultural Mechanization and Wheat all of which are featured in the book. This book is published by Caulkins Creek–an imprint of Boyds Mills Press–featuring historically accurate information. The book features beautiful oil painting art work, and although the reading level is listed as grades 3-6, it would be an excellent “Coffee Table Book” for audiences of all ages.

Who Grew My Soup by Tom Darbyshire takes a look at how agricultural products become consumer products, specifically soup. Most importantly the book introduces readers to farmers who raise the crops that become soup. It is a great look at healthy, nutritious food and where it comes from. Written at a 3rd grade level, the art and pace appeal to audiences of all levels!

Little Joe by Sandra Neil Wallace is a chapter book written for 3rd grade. I like this book, especially for ‘reluctant’ young boy readers. This is the story of Eli who is gaining experience raising his first show animal. It is very agriculturally accurate, and addresses the issue of a ‘pet’ versus livestock.

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts is very similar to Little Joe, but is written for a slightly older (grades 5-7) female audience. As a father of 2 daughters, I like this book with its strong female main character, actively engaging in agriculture. Libby Burns walks in the shadow of her older brother and tries to prove her agricultural skills to her father and grandfather. Her ‘nerdy’ best friend helps her as she struggles with some unique challenges surrounding the county fair. This might be my favorite agriculture book on the market. Michelle Houts is a Junior High teacher in Ohio and also actively engaged in farming with her husband!

The Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry is set on a ranch in eastern Oregon. While both Little Joe and Beef Princess have many “Illinois” related topics—the books could be set here–This book describes ranching in Oregon. I like this book because the main character has to face many challenges of agriculture on his own, as his father is shipped off to the middle east with the National Guard. This is an outstanding book for all -especially targeted to grades 5-7.

Some other books worth checking out include: Seed, Soil, Sun by Cris Peterson, Clarabelle by Cris Peterson, The Hungry Planet by Pete Menzel, and Corn Belt Harvest by Ray Bial. Your county agriculture literacy program may have a number of books in a lending library to preview. Check your county program at http://www.agintheclassroom.org or for more suggestions check out the Illinois AITC website or on the AFBF Website you can look at their Authentic Agriculture book list and even nominate a candidate for their book of the year!!

Kevin Daugherty

Education Director

Illinois Ag in the Classroom

5 THINGS YOU LEARN WHEN YOU JOIN THE AG COMMUNITY IN COLLEGE

  1. GMOs aren’t actually bad for your health

I watched all of the Netflix documentaries like Food, Inc. and Fed Up that unconsciously led me to not trust the food industry.  I wholeheartedly (and secretly) believed the Non-GMO and organic movement.  I was more inclined to buy a product if it contained both of those words.  When I arrived at college and most of my friends had an agriculture background, I learned very quickly that what I had previously believed about GMOs and organically grown food was far from the truth.  GMO labeling is a marketing tactic by companies that want you to believe that their product is the healthier choice.

 

  1. People from agriculture backgrounds are against Chipotle 

Did someone say Chipotle? Well, if they did they are probably not saying good things. Personally, I love 5-2-17 chipotleChipotle, and my Ag friends have not yet convinced me to stop eating it.  Through various commercials and marketing “movies”, chipotle has apparently misrepresented the way that food is produced, which shines agriculture in a negative light.  Chipotle also has a highly publicized push against GMO ingredients and for antibiotic-free meat.  I didn’t know these things or ponder them before I came to college. They bring about great points and are probably right, but I still really like to eat Chipotle.

 

  1. There are agriculture classes in a lot of high schools

In high school, we did not have an Ag program or an FFA program, so I had no idea what Agriculture Education was.  I have met so many AgEd majors in and it took a long time before I completely figured out exactly what they do.  It turns out, people that want to be Agriculture teachers are some of the most passionate people I have ever met.  They absolutely love what they do (because trust me, they do not go into their field for the money) and they will share their love for agriculture to anyone at any time.  I also learned about FFA (Future Farmers of America) because almost everyone in an ag-related major was in FFA.  The AgEd teachers double as FFA advisors, so the people who loved FFA never really have to leave it.  All in all, I really missed out.

 

  1. Farmers go to college too 

Cornfield BackgroundIn college, I learned that there is so much more that goes into farming than I had previously thought.  Farming is not easy.  Because of this, it is a very smart choice for people who want to go into farming to go to college first.  Earning a degree in either Crop Sciences or Farm Management or any agriculture related degree is a smart decision because the things that farmers learn in classes help them to grow their farm and use optimum technology to become the most profitable and effective at their work.  Another important lesson I learned is that it is not a failure to go back to the farm after college.

 

  1. There are so many career paths within agriculture 

I used to think that agriculture=farming. This is the furthest thing from the truth.  Agriculture is such a broad field and is really anything that has to do with food.  There really is a spot for everyone.  Between Food Science and Agribusiness, the career paths are endless.  Not only is it a broad field, it is a prosperous field.  There are so many well-paying and fulfilling jobs in agriculture, all over the world.

Kkylieylie Lindley-Bohman
University of Illinois student

 

9 THINGS YOUR MOM NEVER TOLD YOU

1. The last piece of pie

You know that last piece of a homemade pie that your mom let you have? Actually, she was craving it all day but instead let you have it when she came home from work.

2. Nothing gets done until chores are done

It’s your mom’s birthday and she expects to go out to dinner to celebrate as a family. However, it’s 6:30 and you and your siblings are just finishing farm chores, and come in smelling like the barn. Your mom never lets it show, however, that she was patiently waiting for hours for this ‘special dinner’.

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3. She knows the importance of riding in the field with dad

As a little kid, many of us loved to ride with Dad In the fields. Right away once you were home from school you’d ask for her to take you out to the field. She never told you she had loads of laundry, dishes, and meals to prepare but she instead took you anyways.

4. The nights taking care of the children by herself during planting and harvest season

Being a farmer’s wife while its harvest season can sometimes get old. Having a husband in the field until midnight and having to take care of the kids by herself is hard, but your mom does it anyways. Sometimes, she even brings a meal to your dad in the field. That is if he’s lucky.

5. The pros and cons of country living

Living in the Country is nice, except for when your mom sends you to go to the store and you forget an item. She hates the idea of having to drive all the way into town but does it anyways so you can have your favorite homemade spaghetti for dinner that night.

6. Tracking shavings into the clean house

While you are out in the barn walking and taking care of livestock and attract what seems like millions of shavings onto your clothing, your mom is inside cleaning the house. That is until you come in and leave a trail of shavings on the floor. She may hate it, but loves that you are working hard and following your passion.

7. Having to drive the truck and trailer to a show for you while dad is busy on the farm

It’s spring and your dad is still planting in the field. There is a livestock show that weekend, and although your mom hates driving the 24 ft. gooseneck and your dads’ truck, she does it anyways to see you happy.

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8. Saying goodbye

Growing up and moving into college is hard. When your mom dropped you off at your new place, she never told you that walking out of that dorm room was one of the hardest things she has had to do; letting her baby grow up. She never told you that even though she may have hated some of the things she has done for you growing up, she wouldn’t have traded it for the world and wishes she could do it all over again.

9. The one thing that YOU never told her

Throughout it all, your mom has been there throughout it all. She has grown to love and share the same passion as you and helps you in numerous ways whether it be in the field, at home, or in the barn. You have never told her that you can’t ever repay her for all of her selfless deeds and that she is your hero. That one day you hope to be half of the woman that she is.

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bridget_halatBridget Halat
Iowa State University