County farmers care about the environment
The Central Advantage Field Technology Days on Sept. 10 and 11 attracted farmers from all over the area to learn about new equipment, planting technologies and tillage methods.
This level of interest in environmentally sound pieces of equipment leave agronomists saying that Steele County farmers are progressive.
Being progressive with farming is not only an advantage to the farmer, but it also benefits the land long-term. This allows farmers to be stewards of the land for the next generations of farmers.
As a Central Valley agronomy manager, Storm Sammon is always thinking about land use efficiency. “The big thing is how we can be as efficient as possible with the dollar we spend and still produce the way we want to produce,” remarked Sammon.
Sammon said that the importance of the Field Technology Days is awareness for people involved in agriculture and those that are not as directly involved.
While the Field Technology Days drew farmers and agricultural professionals, there was hope that it would have been a more diverse crowd. However, organizer Kevin Kruize admits that more efforts would be made next year to get more financial and academic professionals with interest in agriculture. He also said that he hopes that it will expand to the point that the general public will draw a crowd less involved in agriculture.
This year was the first time that Central Advantage hosted the event and each day drew in around 150 people. The number of participants was less than hoped for; however, the rain and relocation might have hindered participation.
Central Advantage is a precision agriculture program that began with Central Valley Co-op but has evolved to stand on its own.
The original location of the event in Meriden saw about four inches of rain shortly before the event, so they were forced to relocate to a harvested sweet corn field south of Owatonna. The land is located by Festal Foods, which has a working relationship with Central Advantage.
Despite the last minute changes, all plans stayed true. There were five different dealerships present, with 18 pieces of equipment on display or for demonstration. The focus of the demonstrations were planting technologies and tillage methods.
“The goal is to understand what each piece does and learn how to make better management decisions on your land,” said Kruize. “Seeing is believing. Demonstrations confirm in your mind what you learned.”
All five of the dealerships present were from Minnesota, an aspect of the event that Kruize finds unique. “It’s really cool to have all of the community working together for this event,” said Kruize.
One of the companies at the Field Technology Days was Environmental Tillage Systems with a fancy piece of equipment: the Soil Warrior. Precision Ag Account Manager, Derek Smith, explained the Soil Warrior as a new piece of equipment that performs vertical tillage with directed fertilizer application. This makes for an elevated berm with less moisture and more warmth in the soil for spring.
“It takes samples along the way that allows the farmer to see where the soil needs fertilizer,” remarked Smith. “It’s about thinking: How can we be the most effective with the dollar spent?”
The importance of this event was to continue to expand farmers’ knowledge and continue the acts of environmental progression on local farms. Farmers in the area see the value because, as Irv Arndt said, “It’s about efficiency and sustainability.”
“The better equipment you have, the better decisions you can make by properly adjusting spread,” said Arndt. He admits that equipment is, obviously, expensive. “It’s not about what you spend, it’s about what you make back in return.”
The organizers found the event a success, and they look forward to next year’s event and are hopeful for a growth in participation!