This planting season we tried out a new product on our farm, Bayer Fluency Agent Advanced. This is a seed lubricant mixed in with the corn or soybean seeds inside the seed bins replacing the need for talc or graphite powder. It keeps things flowing nicely through the planter tubes and plates before the seed gets dropped into the ground. The other neat thing about Bayer’s fluency agent advanced is that it is considered pollinator friendly. In recent years there has been some concern that the dust dispersed from talc and graphite lubricants during planting lands on the plants in the ditches and can be harmful to pollinators like bees and butterflies. Another benefit to using this product was its low use rate at only 1/8 cup per seed unit. We used it in our individual box planter, but it can also be used in a bulk fill planter. The literature says it can be used in all makes and types of planters – including seed tenders to apply it to the seed while filling the planter. One notable quality was due to its properties, it really needs to be mixed in well with a paint stirrer (or your hands) in order for it to adhere nicely to the seed – don’t just rely on gravity to disperse it through the box. It was also cleaner handling and had less residue buildup meaning easier and faster clean up, plus no black grimy hands like you’d get with graphite. All-in-all this was a quality product which we plan on using more extensively in the future!
As farmers and agriculturalists, we do things a little differently. We work long hours, we work extremely hard, and we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. And when it comes to fashion, well, we’re in a league of our own.
We always have something on our boots. Sometimes it’s mud, sometimes it’s manure. And sometimes, we aren’t really sure what’s on our boots. But it will rub off soon.
We all have those jeans that are worn in just the right amount. They’re faded, rough around the edges, and the most comfortable jeans we own. Don’t be surprised if we wear them for a week.
Just like our jeans, we all have a favorite hat. It may be a brand hat or your family’s farm’s hat, but we all have one that fits better than the others. Whether we’re 5 or 50, we just love that hat.
Sometimes we work all day and still have errands to run in town. We are not afraid to stop into the bank or the local grocery store. And if we smell, we’re sorry. It’s just a part of the job.
Some people carry bags, but farmers carry side cutters or pliers. You just never know when something is going to need snipping or tightening.
In the cold winters, our livestock still needs feeding. Coveralls are the perfect solution. Our clothes underneath stay clean and we stay warm. They are a fashion statement of farmers everywhere.
Some colleges with equine programs will have riding classes during the day. You will be able to hear me coming down the hall with my spurs. Hopefully, it isn’t too disrupting!
Some of the brands we wear are unknown to a lot of people. We love the look and the quality, unfortunately, if we outgrow them, it makes it hard to sell to someone!
Many people I know, myself included, have gone off the beaten path when it comes to music. Walking into a livestock show or traveling to different states, you see many different band t-shirts you may have never heard of. Jason Isbell, Cross Canadian Ragweed, William Clark Green. You may not know them now, but you should. You won’t be disappointed.
A must-have for livestock girls everywhere is the Miss Me jean. It’s very rare to go to a livestock show and not see bling!
If you’re walking around a livestock show, you will see hundreds of pairs of Twisted X boots. They are original and they are comfy. It also makes it easy to spot a livestock kid on campuses, allowing for easy start up conversations.
T-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts are full of different logos. Some are John Deere, some are Case, but others are not as recognizable. Every farm has a logo, and we wear the heck out of them. Most people don’t understand it, but when we see one we recognize, we feel a little pride.
Every farm kid has that old beat up t-shirt that they didn’t want to get rid of. So, they cut the sleeves off and made it more breathable and easy to work in.
When we go out, we channel our inner George Strait. Sometimes, our dress clothes and work clothes look the same. The dress clothes are a touch cleaner and not so rough.
Not everyone chews Skoal, but those that do usually have a ring left on their jeans. It always goes right back to the same spot, and if it isn’t there, you notice it.
Our back door is full of different kinds of boots. A couple of pairs are the same because we loved the first pair so much. Some pairs are nice and some are worn in. But each pair has a purpose and we can’t live without them
Our clothes may be different, our way of life may be different, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t relatable. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. You’ll be surprised how much we can learn from each other.
A recent Department of Energy (DOE) study on employment in the U.S. shows that the ethanol industry employs a significantly larger share of military veterans than any other segment of the energy industry.
We’ve always loved the ethanol industry because it’s clean energy, another market for our corn, and is grown, processed, and used right here in the U.S. eliminating the need to fight wars over foreign oil. But this patriotic twist on the industry is just one more reason to gloat.
The study showed that nearly one in five ethanol industry employees is a veteran (18.9%), compared to a national average of 7% across all sectors of the workforce.
Per 100 workers, the ethanol industry employs twice as many veterans as the oil and gas sector and nearly four times as many veterans as the coal and nuclear power generation sectors. Other renewable energy sectors, including advanced biofuels, wind and solar, also employ a relatively large share of military veterans. Across all energy segments, veterans comprise 9% of the U.S. energy sector’s workforce, slightly above the national average.
If an industry that gives back to its country is an important moral guideline to you, then you’ll want to choose to fill up on ethanol. Ten percent of your fuel is already ethanol, but fifteen percent blends have been approved for cars model years 2001 and newer. Fifteen percent blends are available in various areas of the U.S., expanding every day.
An 85 percent blend of ethanol is also available all over the country for flex fuel vehicles with a yellow gas cap. For ethanol availability at the pump near you (which, is also cheaper for higher octane!), click here.
Read Rachel Gantz’s article about the DOE study here.
Nathan Johanning works for the University of Illinois Extension based in the Jackson County office. He is an Extension Educator working in agriculture, specifically in Local Food Systems and Small Farms.
Alicia: What are your primary responsibilities? What does your typical day look like?
Nathan: My main duty is to help the growers in southern Illinois and the Midwest with production challenges they have and to help them explore new growing systems and techniques to improve their farm operation. I work mainly with crops including grain crops and fruit and vegetable production as well. I don’t know that there is a “typical” day. Many days like today are spent out in the field setting up research trials and helping growers. Sometimes we are spending time planning or preparing for a conference, workshop, or field day or just working in the office on reports, trial data, or presentations. Very few if any weeks are just in the office my desk only.
Alicia: Why did you pursue this career field?
Nathan: I pursued this career first for my love of growing crops which started from working at my grandparents’ farm. Also, as I was working on my degrees I had a chance to conduct research and also teach and both of these things are things I thoroughly enjoy and this position has given me the opportunity to do both! For me, there is just something very satisfying to be able to help a farmer improve their operation or looking back on a successful day in the field working on research trials.
Alicia: What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Nathan: The most rewarding part is when I am able to help someone or educate them and their gratitude for saving their strawberry crop, teaching them about soils, sharing with them new pumpkin varieties that are a success or anything else
Alicia: To someone outside of the agriculture industry, why should they join careers involved in agriculture?
Nathan: First off if they like to eat, which most do, it is great to have in some way a hand in bringing food to someone’s table whether you are on the frontline selling vegetables at a farmers market or behind the scenes teaching or researching the next new innovation. Also, in generally the agriculture industry has so many great people to work with. There is such a great network of people and even if you are in a different area of agriculture you still feel this connection and common interest or goal with others in the ag industry that you can all relate to. If you ever need help there are always people willing to step up and help out.
Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
It’s a beautiful day here in Central Illinois after some recent rainy weather. While some farmers are questioning whether to replant, others are seeing first signs of growth. Stay safe out there farmers!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
1. 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!?
2. 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.
3. 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?
4. 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
If 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.
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.
Today is a cool, windy, and sunny after almost an entire week of rainy weather. It’s a perfect day to be outside, especially at a baseball game. Our favorite team, the Normal CornBelters will be starting their season next week and we couldn’t be more excited! We’re looking forward to warm, summer nights at the Corn Crib.
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.
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 Chipotle, 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.
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.
Farmers go to college too
In 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.
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.
University of Illinois student