Join My Journey Into Ag
Welcome to ‘Join My Journey,’ where well-known Iowa food, travel and fitness blogger Kristin Porter (better known as "Iowa Girl Eats,”) is taking her online adventures into agriculture with the help of the Iowa Food & Family Project. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, Kristin will travel to destinations across Iowa sharing the story of the people who grow and serve great food. “Even though I’ve spent most of my life in Iowa, I’m not a farm girl and want to know more about farming and our state’s rural roots,” said Kristin. She’ll discover the expertise and science of hybridizing seed, help sort and package eggs at an egg-laying farm, take the wheel of a tractor and combine to plant and harvest soybeans and meet the farm families who raise and care for their poultry, pigs and cattle. Come along for the journey and explore Iowa agriculture in a whole new way.
Join my Journey
Technology Helps Farmers Go Further
If you’re anything like me, your smart phone has practically become another appendage at this point. Between checking up on my blog, answering emails and, ok, having a shameless addiction to Instagram, there’s not a waking hour that goes by where I don’t use my smart phone in some way, shape or form.
Thankfully, I’m not alone. Brock Hansen of Hansen Family Farms in Baxter showed me that not only are smart phones crucial to his farming operation, but other technologies including GPS, Bluetooth, iPads, headsets and two-way radios keep his team up, running and making informed decisions in the fields.
To say that Brock, a fourth-generation farmer, has his hands full is an understatement. Between planting and harvesting 4,000 acres of soybeans and corn (which can keep him in the fields until midnight or later each spring and fall); taking care of four children ranging in ages from 8 months to 14 years with his wife, Robin; volunteering with the local fire department; and running a small machinery service business in town; efficiency is essential to running his life (not to mention staying sane!).
Technology helps immensely.
I visited Brock’s farm at harvest time in late September to see, firsthand, how technology benefits farmers. After a ride in an absolute workhorse of a classic white pickup truck through a dusty, half-harvested soybean field, we climbed into his combine outfitted with the latest and greatest in farm-focused technology to finish the job. Let me tell you – I was so impressed!
Rid your mind of the tractors of yesteryear and replace them with combine cabs equipped with GPS-guided auto-steer offering sub-inch accuracy to maximize harvest. A mounted iPad shows crop yields in real time. Monitors display seed spacing, crop moisture levels, fuel usage and bushels/hour. Oh, and they all have the capability to spit out reports on the fly.
Think that’s impressive? Don’t let me forget to mention the wireless hot spot Brock has on a grain dryer back at the farm, which he can monitor from his smart phone no matter where he is – be it the fields, in town or at lunch!
It’s clear that technology works in famers’ favor for cost savings, efficiency and record keeping, but the amount of data collected can at times be overwhelming. Brock employs the help of an agronomist to analyze the data and make strategic decisions for the following year's planting based on the results collected during harvest time.
While Brock is a proponent of technology in farming, he is quick to point out that it doesn’t necessarily make everything easier. Iowa’s farmers still must work around Mother Nature and through mechanical issues, for instance.
If only there was a smart phone app for that!
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