5 Ways Farm Equipment Has Changed Lives for the Better

Over the decades equipment and technology have changed how we live our everyday lives. We can drive our cars further before refueling, our television sets have evolved into flat screens, and our ovens use convection cooking to bake dinner faster. Advancements in equipment and technology are often moving so quickly that we don’t even realize the how much they’ve change our daily lives.

So let’s take a step back and look at how farm equipment has made our lives easier.

  • Now you can check on where you got your tractor stuck! Thanks to computers and smartphones, you can keep track of your fields all from the comfort of your couch. You can even spot the exact spot you got that tractor stuck! Just ask this Farmer:

  • GPS ability to document yields, application rates, and tillage practices – remember when you had to keep all that information in your head? Sure, you still do, but now you’ve got a back up to that noggin and that comes in the form of Precision Ag!

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16 Struggles All Farmers Know to be True

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  1. The Mother Nature struggle – it’s a never ending battle. As soon as you start planting – rain. As soon as you need rain – no rain. Need some hail damage? Mother Nature has your back. Rainy day means sleeping in? Nope – there’s always work to do!
  2. Crops to plant – Corn is selling low, do you cut back or do you keep planting? Beans are predicted to be strong but will everyone else be planting bean as well. What about wheat? Deciding year to year on which crops to plant can be quite the struggle.
  3. Vacations – Vacations? That’s funny. Taking a vacation means making sure there is enough hired help to take care of the farm, feed the animals and make sure everything that could go wrong doesn’t. Is it worth the risk?
  4. No days off – you know that Friday feeling when your week is almost over and two days off is on the horizon? Yeah not many farmers do. The jobs keep coming – even on a Saturday.
  5. 16 hour days – Sun comes up, already working. Sun goes down, still working. The struggle is real when a work day is never just 8 hours – but 12, 13 even 16 hours. After all, you have to do what it takes to get the job done!
  6. Optimism – Keep your chin up! It’s harder than you think sometimes when the crop gets ruined mid-season by flooding or your bushels are off by a lot. The struggle to stay optimistic is real but maintaining optimism for next year is key.
  7. Appreciation – That moment when someone claims food comes from the grocery store. Farmers work so the world can eat, but the world doesn’t work to know how that food gets to their mouths. Farmers all struggle with uninformed people making claims about the crops they grow or the livestock they produce.
  8. Keeping your eyes on the road – all Farmers can relate to this – it’s almost impossible to drive down any road with fields and keep your eyes on the road. After all, there are fields to size up!
  9. Plant or harvest delays – you did all the work to get the planter ready and wait for it…RAIN. Ready to get chopping? Don’t tell Mother Nature!
  10. When sleep takes a back seat to the fields – #TeamNoSleep happens when Mother Nature and harvest or plant time get together and decide that for 3 days the weather will be perfect for getting the job done. If that means working under lights, so albeit, sleep isn’t that important right?
  11. Having fields miles from civilization – you know how that goes. Whether it’s that you’re starving or when you gotta go, you gotta go – this struggle involves some creativity if you know what we mean.
  12. The dirt and scents you can pick up – Whether it’s the smell of diesel, animals or anything in between – the sign a busy day isn’t complete without coming home smelling like something you’ve worked on or fed. You know you’ve really done it in when you need gasoline to get those hands clean!
  13. 5 MPH – Enough said. Trying to get through with a field before the storm comes? Hopefully 5mph is fast enough for ya!
  14. When the duals fall flat – it always happens in slow motion. There you are taking the duals off the tractor and it falls flat on the ground. Good luck getting them up. Just picturing it makes us cringe!
  15. The urge to smell fresh dirt – you know spring is coming when you get that urge – the urge to smell the fresh turned dirt. The struggle is real when that is months away!
  16. It’s always something – whether you’re stuck, something in the tractor goes wrong or the part you need won’t be in for a while – there’s always a struggle on the farm. But there’s no better way life to have than to face those struggles and still come out on top!

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5 Pieces of Technology Every Farmer Should Know About

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That’s right, you most likely already know the marriage between the mule and the plow has been broken. It wasn’t a messy divorce; but mutual by both parties. The mule wanted to spend its days standing by the fence with a piece of straw in its mouth and the plow wanted to rest in a field of tall grass and get rusty. Times are different now. Technology and the farmer is the new marriage. As fast as technology is advancing for suburban and city folk, it’s increasing just as fast on the rural farms. Farms are becoming connected, advanced plots of potential, all with the help of technology. Below are 5 beneficial pieces of technology which are changing the way we farm.

  1. Drones
    The FAA agreed the benefits of Ag related drones far outweighed the cons. With the introduction of drones on the farm, there are many new possibilities available and many of which are still on the horizon. What’s great about ag drones? Drones can scout the farm, see which crops are too wet, too dry or infested with insects. They can also supply plant counts, decide where chemicals need to be sprayed and check for irrigation leaks. For ranchers, drones can count cattle, take the temperature of the animal or even ward other pests away from the farm (similar to a body guard, only for the farm).
  2. Apps
    Apps are obviously not a new thing, but with all the apps out there today, here are just a few ag related apps worth mentioning.
    Fastline (iOS, Android): Well obviously Fastline’s app should be #1 on any farmer’s phone or tablet. Because it offers the largest searchable database of new and used farm equipment. It’s a sure fire way to make sure you always have the equipment you need.
    Sirrus (iOS): This app is a precision agriculture app that allows you to digitize field boundaries, soil samples, scout your crops, check weather conditions and graph rainfall estimates per field.
    ID Weeds (iOS, Android):  This app allows you to search for weeds by their common or Latin name, view a list of weeds, or identify weeds based upon a number of different characteristics. Details about each weed are presented, along with photograph(s) of the weed specified.
    agIndex (iOS, Android):  This app allows you to view all the current crop markets, weather, news and exclusive agronomic advice, in one quick-to-read dashboard.
  3. Precision Agriculture (Satellite Farming or Site Specific Crop management (SSCM))
    With the help from satellite imagery, in-vehicle GPS receivers, in-vehicle sensors, and geographic information system software to analyze data, farmers can gain more insight into prescriptive planting, which is data driven planting advice to help maximize their yield. These tools can also determine seed density, prescribe variable-rate application of nitrogen and plant disease treatment options as well as many other recommendations. This is truly big data for farmers.
  4. Livestock Biometrics, GPS and RFID
    Biometrics in cattle refers to the ability to scan body temperature, heart rate and other vitals. Such readings can determine the overall health of the animal. GPS collars can track the location of the animals while radio frequency ID (RFID) can be used to identify ownership of certain animals. Farmers no longer have to worry about ole Bessie wandering off the farm onto the farm next door. And if Bessie does decide to leave the farm for a slightly more desirable field to graze, the farmer can always prove Bessie’s rightful home with a little help from the RFID chip.
  5. Telematics
    Telematics is the transmission of data to and from a piece of equipment. Cellular modems are used to monitor the performance of a machine and keep track of the machine’s location in real time. Telematics are also able to monitor the machine’s performance data as well as alert the farmer or dealer when a mechanical issue occurs. While this may not be new technology, the use of the technology in agriculture is becoming more wide spread. In many instances this technology is being offered as standard features on some tractors, combines and sprayers. This is really beneficial for farmers who have hired help to run their machines. The farmer can sit back and see the location of all the pieces of machinery at once. If something is going wrong on a piece of equipment, he can notify the driver all from the comfort of their iPad.

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5 Questions Farmers Need To Ask Before Buying Farm Equipment

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So, you’ve decided that it’s time to take the next step, bite the bullet and go all in. You’ve searched all over Fastline for the perfect tractor or combine for your farm. You think that you’ve found the one—the one to solve all your problems and fit all your needs. But now what? You’re ready to head to the dealership, but you want a good deal. Here are 5 questions you need to ask your dealer before purchasing that pretty new thing.

  1. Is this the right one for me? You know your operation better than anyone, and the equipment you need to keep your farm running at maximum capacity. Talk to the dealer, and tell him your needs to make sure the attachments you need are compatible with the tractor you’re considering.
  2. Is there any wiggle room on that price? You’re a smart buyer, heck you used Fastline to find that tractor, so we know you’ve got brains. You probably even used the Equipment Values tool on Fastline.com to know the high, low and average price of that new work horse. Talk to them or just simply, make an offer, and the dealer will let you know where you stand.
  3. Can I finance my purchase? It’s that time of year. You’ve got a lot of expenses coming up, and that tractor is a big chunk of change, so financing may help out a lot.
  4. Can I take a look at the service records and the previous owner’s contact info? You want to know exactly what you’re getting into when that combine comes off the lot. You may even know the last guy who owned it, or there’s a good chance your neighbor knows him. This is perfect so you can ask him why he sold it in the first place.
  5. Is there a warranty and what kind of service do you provide? You’ve got lots do, and don’t have time for downed equipment. Make sure that your dealer backs the equipment and has a reliable service department to handle your crisis.

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Hot Topics in Ag

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Time to take a little break from the fields and catch up with what’s happening in and around the Ag community! Take a read below at a few of the stories.

Back to back soybean- Don’t do it

More farmers are looking at a practice long frowned upon: planting back-to-back soybean.

Don’t do it, says University of Missouri Extension soybean specialist Bill Wiebold. Expect lower yields and higher erosion if you don’t rotate soybean with corn. Risk of disease, insects and nematodes also increase.

Falling corn prices and steady production costs tempt some farmers to choose continuous bean over a soybean-corn rotation to boost earnings. Keep Reading…

Recognizing A Dedication to Farming

The co-owners of Frontier Family Farms west of Albert Lea have been chosen as the 2015 Farm Family of the Year.

Cole and Katie Pestorious will accept the award at the 10th annual Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Luncheon today at the Fairlane Building at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Continue reading

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