The history of my farm goes back generations, and we’ve always had the same goal: To make an honest and sustainable living while caring for the environment to ensure a great future for generations to come. The way we have achieved that goal has changed in the last few decades. Modern technology gives me an edge that my father and grandfather didn’t have when growing crops. Farmers use different types of technology, and each person uses what’s right for them. On my farm, this is what works and helps me grow sustainable food.
Just like when you’re in your car, GPS links to our tractors and combine to guide us through the field with more precision than before and helps us track information with each pass. After a field is completely harvested this fall, I will download the data from the combine and upload it into my laptop so I can analyze the information and come up with a plan for cover crops, fertilizer and planting next spring.
Aside from the cool factor, drones collect data that allow us to better care for the plants and the land where they grow. The technology allows us to scout – or monitor – our fields in a matter of minutes instead of hours. Click here to read more about how drones improve sustainability on my farm.
All that information I collect goes directly to the cloud. I can pull up the information whenever I need it on my iPad or smart phone. In the spring, I’ll use the collected data and an app on my iPad to control the planter and apply fertilizer and pesticides only where we need them.
New farm technology is exciting, but it’s about more than convenience and gadgets. By using this technology, we will continue to be able to feed more people with less environmental impact, which is absolutely vital to the future of our planet.
Matt lives and farms in Dwight, IL with his wife and their three children.
Did you happen to hear in the news that a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper?
Did you perhaps also hear the follow-up information from the Environmental Working Group that trace amounts of Roundup are found in most of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats?
If yes to either of these questions, I’m certain that you’re feeling a bit frightened of your food and wondering what in the world is safe to eat now that all these details have been released.
Fear not! I present you with: math.
This video is 100% worth watching. Yes, it has a hefty time requirement, but if you are indeed worried about your food, you simply must take the time to watch it.
Still have questions? We’d love to attempt to answer in the comments. Fire away!
One of the things that we work on constantly at IL Corn is how to export more commodities to other countries. This obviously helps farmers because it creates more market opportunities for their products, but also helps other countries that don’t grow or produce enough food to feed all their citizens.
We really enjoy exporting pork, beef, and poultry. It makes the most sense; sell the corn here in Illinois or at least in the U.S. to another farmer who adds value to the corn by growing beef or pork with it, and then sell that beef or pork to an overseas customer. This philosophy helps U.S. farmers capture more of the economic opportunity here in the states while still helping to feed the world.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation is one organization that helps us do this. They have representatives in other countries that understand the culture and food and nutrition demands of the citizens there, and then they help promote U.S. beef and pork in those countries using what they know.
They even work to build demand for the cuts of beef and pork that we don’t use so much of in the U.S. so that we waste less of the animal. As an example, we love our bacon here in the U.S. so no reason to promote bacon overseas. Do you know what we love less? Tongue. Do you know who likes tongue? Japan. It’s a win-win proposition!
Interested in learning more about how we export beef and pork into other countries? Follow U.S. Meat Export Federation on Facebook!
IL Corn is a member of the Global Farmer Network. This association helps us act as a worldwide community of farmers, advocating for trade and technology that every farmer needs access to, no matter their country of origin.
GFN has started a new series of checking in with some farmers in other countries so we can understand each other better! What a great chance to “meet” an international farmer!!
I am pleased to introduce you to Jane Smith in New Zealand who attended the 2016 Global Farmer Roundtable and farms with her husband and children…
Question: Tell us about your farm: Where is it? What size is your farm? What do you grow?
Answer: We are fourth generation sheep and beef farmers in Otago – the southern end of the south island of New Zealand. We run 500 Angus cattle and 4,000 Perendale sheep on 3,700 acres of rolling hill country. Our farm sits at an altitude of 2,000 feet above sea level and so snow is frequent and expected in winter time here. Our stock are completely free range and pasture raised – and they love the outdoors life – they are bred for resilience – we don’t use antibiotics, anthelmintic treatments or any growth hormones.
Question: Why did you decide to become a farmer?
Answer: We are passionate about our breeding robust, resilient, happy and healthy livestock. Farming families are well known to care for their communities, their farms and their family’s future and these are what we live for. We are proud of the fact that over the past 30 years, our New Zealand farmers have increased their production by running lower numbers of livestock, but producing more per animal – yet still remaining pasture-based and sustainable.
Question: What is the most significant challenge you are facing today?
Answer: Tight biosecurity is our greatest asset as an island nation – we have the ability to remain well secured from a biosecurity point of view – however with the massive increase in tourism each and every year, our borders will need to remain extremely well resourced in order to cope with the ever increasing risk of biosecurity intrusions.
We also spend a significant amount of our time ‘defending’ the place of a farmer in today’s society. We have now changed this approach to a proactive/educational stance, rather than a defensive mechanism. In New Zealand, despite the fact that we are based on a sustainable pasture- based system and that we export 90% of our product, we are held to account by our urban population to a level perhaps unseen anywhere else in the world, especially given that we are highly taxed and we have had no farmer subsidies since 1984 (this we are very proud of). We have taken significant steps to ensure that everything that we do on farm is auditable and transparent – from our high animal welfare programmes to our strong environmental focus, yet the level of regulation that is forced upon us each and every year is increasing. We genuinely want to do the right thing and have a focus that goes ‘beyond compliance’ and we believe that New Zealand farmers are indeed doing this, albeit it with very little recognition and no product premiums to reflect our high regulatory costs.
Question: What opportunities do you see, as a farmer, that you get excited about your future in this field?
Answer: We are excited about marketing our New Zealand naturally produced products to the world. We are proud of our sustainability, our efficiency and our family-based long term view of the role of the farmer. Our next step is to ensure that today’s savvy global consumer recognizes this and is willing to pay a premium for this – to allow us to maintain our extremely high quality assurance standards in producing safe and sustainable food.
Farmers need inspiration too!
Although they are spending every day outside, close to creation and nature, being their own boss (and it sounds heavenly!), there are also huge risks and worries and stressors too. What quotes and sayings inspire farmers to keep their heads up and do their best work?
This is a good one to remind us all that no one is successful without hard work. Yes, the things a farmer worries about are often out of their control – like weather and commodity prices – but often the pressures of a day job are out of our control too. This is a good reminder that you have to wake up every day and work hard for the success you’re hoping for.
Many farmers dream of implementing new technologies on their farm or maybe fun little niche market opportunities like growing a different crop (pumpkins anyone?) or opening a farm animal petting zoo tourism opportunity. Keep dreaming farmers … we support you and we all agree with C.S. Lewis that you can do it!
What you plant now, you will harvest later. Truer words have never been spoken.
Yes, this speaks to a farmer’s innate understanding of the land, seeds, and growing things, but it’s so applicable to the word around us. Treat people fairly and with respect and you will reap the harvest of those relationships in the future.
Farmers stress about their financial situations.
Weather, commodity prices, input prices, and more are expense and income variables that farmers cannot control. But the name of the game in agriculture is “be prepared.” Save from the good years to get you through the bad years. Its a great lesson for all of us – not just those of is in ag!
As farmers work harder to get to know their urban neighbors and to be more transparent about the food they are growing, Maya Angelou hits it right on the head. Non-farmers aren’t being disrespectful or ungrateful to ask questions about food production. They are curious and concerned about their health!
On the same hand, farmers aren’t raping the land or over spraying chemicals. They are raising food the best they can as science has dictated.
We are more alike than we are unalike. We need to focus on that.
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director
There are going to be endless options of poultry this fall — from turkey legs to chicken wings, with the “healthier” options of chicken salad and chicken breast sandwiches. But what’s really the difference between white meat and dark meat?
Really, it comes down to the muscle. Since turkeys and chickens do a whole lot more walking then flying, their legs contain higher levels of myoglobin (an essential protein that carries and stores oxygen in muscle cells) which makes the muscle darker, whereas their wing and breast meat stay white.
For years, folks have “flocked” to white meat assuming it was the healthier cut. However, one ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat versus 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh. Dark meat actually claims higher levels of iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins B6 and B12.
For more info about your food just like this, “like” CommonGround on Facebook!
Illinois corn farmers were out and about this week at the Illinois State Fair. We loved giving a helping hand to our industry partners like the Illinois Beef Association and the Illinois Pork Producers Association.