A long and busy schedule of meetings in January is now over, thank goodness. I am worn out. I think I was on the road for meetings over half the month of January and into the first of February.

There were several good things I picked up that need attention in the near future. There is a lot of info that everyone might be interested in and I don’t want to forget something, but I will.

Bryan Young and Larry Steckel have put on some great presentations on Palmer Amaranth  ( short article intro to Palmer ) if you are not up to speed on this weed you had better get ready…….. the chemical management of this weed species is very important. If you get a chance to see one of these speakers, go to the meeting and learn about Palmer before you get it. There is also a good mode of action chart for management of resistant weeds that Bryan has been handing out: click here to access it.

Soybean size is going to be very large this year. You need to be aware of what seed size your getting and get the appropriate plate size to insure proper planting populations. This is industry wide and some are reporting shortages of plates in some areas…… may have to do some calling to find them.

I have been in contact with some of you who have expressed interest in refining your management zones for either soil sampling or variable rate applications. I have been talking to, and have an initial agreement with, another consulting company to have access to a Veris tool ( .  Veris tools are used for making more accurate soil maps, mapping OM or pH for VRT or soil sampling.  I am encouraging anyone interested in VR seeding to do some Veris EC maps to help guide this process.  Our soil maps in So IL are not the greatest, and in some cases have not been updated in 40+ years. We can also do elevation mapping at the same time. If you are interested in this, please contact me so that I can put together as many acres as possible to get the best utilization of the tool.

Well we went live with our new business venture:  Precision Crop Services.  You can visit the website, which is still being developed, here

So I will transition this blog to just farming, guns/hunting, ham radio and family and the Precision Crop Services to just consulting related content.  That is going to be difficult………………not doing two blogs, but keeping them separate.

We shall see how it goes!

Some additional thoughts from the NRA convention today as I think about my experience over in St Louis.

In was painfully obvious that some companies/brands/booths were very busy and some were not.  Granted I didn’t hit every booth but I did walk the entire exhibit hall once because I knew I wasn’t coming back for a second day but still in my hurried canvas of the expo hall some were covered up and some were not.

Those companies that were covered up seemed to have two or three things going on.  First was color.  In a world of black rifles, cammo and “tactical” colors, the booths and companies who were bright with color were busy.  Blue, white, red and yellow seemed to attract the most attention.  For what ever reason color seemed to be a magnet.

Second was the representatives on the floor.  Those busy folks were busy because they knew their stuff and wanted to talk about their stuff.  I found that a lot of the folks working some of the booths were not sales people but were from manufacturing, assembly and also development.  I liked that.  I liked talking guns with the guy or gal who either built it or developed it and also uses it.  The not so busy booths were staffed by mostly sales people it seemed.

Last those working the floor worked the floor.  When I walked up to a booth I was greeted and asked what I was looking for, interested in or wanted/needed info on.  They were seeking out the public.  The other less busy booths seemed to be talking to their friends and not really interested in engaging the public.

ATTENTION LOUISVILLE FARM SHOW EXHIBITORS:  Take note above……the last few times I have been at Louisville you have acted like its a chore for me to ask a question or inquire about a product.  Plus your all sales people, get the real people out on the floor would you.  Those that know the product, built it, developed it and use it.

If there was a disappointment in anything it was in one booth I visited.  A company, whom will not be named, of whom I have and use a lot of their products, seemed to be staffed almost by kids, (granted I am now mid 40’s so I find myself saying kids to anyone who looks younger than me, a sign that I am getting old) of whom were more interested in talking to each other and handing out an occasional “sticker” than in talking about their products.  I was almost shocked.  I stopped by there to see what was new, what was up and coming and what might be new to add to my collection but not only did they not have much to see they had even less to talk or hear about.  Epic fail…………..

ATTENTION LOUISVILLE FARM SHOW EXHIBITORS:  Take note above……Last year I went to two different manufactures of the same type product to investigate buying their products only to be greeted by KIDS who didn’t know squat about what you made……………and I didn’t even get a “sticker”.    Pull your heads out of you rear ends and get with the program.

I found all the NRA staff that I recognized to be extremely friendly and kind.  I also found all the big “stars” of shooting TV who were there to be very friendly in the booths.  I noticed that when they left the booths they made a b line for the door and while still nice they were pretty short on fanfare.  This I think was to be expected.  I assume that they were under contract do just what they did in the booths or companies for which they were being paid and couldn’t do any extra for “free” for those that stopped them in the hallway.

Another thing I noticed was that the booths with the scantly clad ladies signing pictures and letting those who wanted to take pictures with them do so were busy but there was little interest in the actual products that said ladies were standing besides.  Just proves that you can draw a crowd but without something substantial you cant hold them.

Last but not least……..

Being a farmer, and a joke that all farmers and ag businesses understand, I have never paid for a ball cap.  We farmers always get a “give me” cap.  For the record I have purchased ball caps, I purchased my Glock hat several years ago, my Rock River Arms hat and also my Knob Creek hat.  But the other 100 or so hats on the hat rack are give me caps from various ag companies.  Those caps I have purchased are of good quality.  Again the joke is that you cant give a farmer a “cheap” hat and expect them to wear it.

Matter of fact there are only certain brands that we will wear because they will hold up to the abuse we give them.

Smith and Wesson was giving away hats when I was there.  Nice hats. Very nice hats.  Good quality hats.  I would have to guess that those hats cost them about $5-$8 wholesale at the volume they were giving them out.  Having bought give me hats to pass out for the soil testing company I know what a good hat will cost.  Smith and Wesson were giving away a quality hat worth the money.

Kudos to them for doing so.

Now that being said a lot of the other companies were selling hats so that you could get the “star” or “expert” they had speaking in their booths to sign them.  Some of these hats they were asking $15 for or more.  And they were CHEAP hats.  Cheap hats that a farmer wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.


Besides what good is a hat that is signed by someone?  You would never wear it would you?  Hats are meant to be worn and worn out then thrown away.  You wear a hat until it isn’t recognizable and then you go to the closet or hat rack and get another give me hat and go on.

I will wear my Smith and Wesson hat with pride until it wears out.  Thank you S & W!

No, I didn’t buy a $15 cheap hat either.

And no one signed my hat.

Hats are made for wearing.

Leave it to a farmer to go to the NRA Convention and talk about give me hats.

“The more complex the mind the greater the need for simplicity of play.”  Capt James T Kirk

Its been a few days since I have had time to update my blog so I thought I would do so with a long post so “be warned those who enter here!”  With the level of activity and constant variety of jobs to be done I feel the need for simple play but there is no time right now it would seem.  Nor is there anyone who wants to play either.  This rain would normally indicate a time to stop and rest, but rain isn’t welcome right now because of the list of things that must be done is not getting any shorter.

The new shed/warehouse/shop has a concrete floor now.  The final pour happened yesterday and it looks truly beautiful.  Concrete will be a welcome departure from rock and asphalt.  The heat in the floor will be a welcome wonder for winter work that doesn’t seem to get done now because of the cold in the other shed.  There is still a lot of work to be done on the shed but its getting closer.


I got in one good day of soil sampling on 2012 ground this past week before I had to pull out and head to a Pioneer meeting.  The ground is sampling nice for the most part but is kind of funny in a way for March.  With the lack of snow and shallow freeze/thaw that we get here in southern Illinois in a normal winter the ground is very “fluffy” in a lot of areas.  That is dependent on if there was fall tillage done, but there is a good 3-4 inches of fluffy ground on most fields I have been on.

Everyone says they are ready to go to the field and plant corn, or so they say.  Yet I can gather that most don’t have their seed corn yet and they keep forgetting that its March and not April.  This very mild winter has got everyone mixed up and if it keeps this up till April I suspect we will see a lot of corn go in the ground sooner rather than later.

I did manage to slip in getting another field chisel plowed yesterday evening after I got back from my meeting.  The ground is hard in these wheat fields and its no wonder why.  The wet conditions last summer resulted in ruts from wheat harvest, double crop bean planting and from the bean harvest.  Its ground is packed tight!

A side note is that while the big tractor is working in the field, out of no where come these seagulls.  I have no clue where they came from. They are not hanging out around the farm anywhere, and the lake is several miles away.  Yet they seem to show up within minutes of the tractor going to the field and disappear just a quickly when I shut it down.  They don’t hang around.  Strange birds for sure.


BTW in case I didn’t gripe enough its week 2 without any acetylene yet………….

If all that wasn’t enough, we have also been trying to get details on the new business finalized.  That also isn’t getting done as fast as I want but it is going forward and we will be ready to go live soon, I hope.  I guess if I wasn’t so busy with everything else I could get that done as well.

Speaking of simple play. What has happened to my “gun” shows on the outside channels?  I mean even my favorites are not worth watching as of late on TV.   It seems that every show is now doing the same topic week after week.  I mean come on guys show me something new or original, not the same thing program after program with the same bad “experts” talking about and using the trendy words or latest fad in “tactical cool”.  I have no interest in hanging an espresso maker off my AR’s rail.

Worse yet some have fallen into this “prepper” mentality as well.  All I need is another show with the end of the word being  preppers or bunker preppers or salt and preppers or what ever, with some gun play involved.  First off your guys don’t have a clue, second you make gun owners look bad and three you can’t be for real.  I mean anyone who is so scared of the EOTWAWKI would not be on national TV or even a gun show showing the world what you have laid in for an emergency.

Nothing on TV at all anymore.

Simple is what I need, simple play.

Progress was made today on many fronts on the farm it seems.

First off after two unsuccessful tries the roof is now complete on the new shed.  I am happy about that!  It looks like about one more good day and then the whole thing will be closed in, minus the doors.  I am told next is concrete.  So we are getting ever closer to being done.

Second I got the NH3 bar all but ready for side-dressing.  It has been a hit and miss job so to speak.  Minus a few little details its about ready.  But it will have to wait a while because one of the needed repairs to it will require a torch.  Why wait on a torch?

I ran out of acetylene and went to get another cylinder at the “air and acetylene company” (omitting full name to protect them) and they were out.  Out of acetylene.  How could you be out of acetylene?  Well its in short supply and they wont have any until Thursday.  Short supply?  What? Has there been a run on acetylene?  Well no, we just haven’t had much on hand lately (ah back to my no inventory pet peeve).  Well isn’t your company name “air and ACETYLENE company”?

So I wait until Thursday to finish the tool bar.

I then spent the rest of the day working on my truck getting ready for soil testing season to start.  Which looks like it could start this week.  Next is to work on the ATV and then I will be ready to go, sort of.

The new enclosed trailer is here now and I have to find time to get it outfitted for soil testing and other activities.  But I will use my old trailer until I get time to fix it up right.

That pretty much sums up today……..

I guess we can let the cat out of the bag now and make the first of two major announcments that I alluded to earlier in January of some changes here on the farm.

Not only is this  a shed we are building, but it will also be a warehouse for Pioneer Seed.  Robertson Farms is now officially a Pioneer seed dealer.  We will be servicing farmers mostly in the western part of Franklin Co.  It is a natural fit for us.  We have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with Pioneer as a seed customer and seed grower, mainly because I have felt that their agronomy and sales staff have always had my success at heart when offering me products and services.  So when the opportunity presented itself last fall we began the process to become dealers for Pioneer.  We have a lot to learn but are eager and ready for the challenge!

The end of day 5 on the new shed…………….now we are ready for metal!  The nice sunny days have allowed for quick progress, but the bottom has fallen out of the ground around the site. We had to pull their forklifts and tellehandler out today.  The telehandler  was setting on the frame with the last truss suspended in the air………fun!



Meanwhile, while the last truss was going up, we spotted smoke accross the field and found that our neighbors old barn was on fire.  By the time we got over there the major part of the black smoke was gone but the flames were still going as high as the silo tops!

The old barn has been a land mark on Rt 14 east of Benton and the silos are also the site where the original farm owner killed himself back in the 40’s or 50’s…………more on that later………

Busy under-describes the amount of activity going on right now.

Finished up hauling my January contracted corn this week.  Glad to have that done…… seems like it took for ever and I guess it did with all the meetings I have had and time away from the place.

Pioneer came and got their seed beans so we spent part of two days loading semis.  The big plus is we got it done before the rains set in!

Progress on the new building has come to a halt with the rain and winds so no new updates or pictures of progress on that front.

Waiting on the last of the planter parts to get here so we can start the rebuild on it.

Waiting on the last of the NH3 parts so we can start the rebuild on the anhydrous tool bar.

We did get the planter monitors back from AgExpress………… that’s good news!

The next few days will be spend trying to catch up on all the paperwork that has piled up between meetings and hauling grain.

All in all, I would rather shovel grain than push papers………..


I got a good question the other day and I thought I would share it with you.

The question was basically that an input supplier was looking for input from a grower on what they thought the future would look like to the grower, and how the input suppliers business fit into that world.  In other words what can we do to keep or get your business in the future?

I like to turn the question around and ask how does the input supplier view the world and how does that view fit into my business plans?  So I think I would ask them these questions to see what their view of the future and my business is:

  1. If you are to be my supplier of choice, what are you going to be doing to insure that you are providing me with inputs at the best cost to insure that we both make a profit?
  2. In these times of great volatility, what are you going to do to insure that you don’t get caught on the wrong side of the swings in input prices and have inventory that we either don’t want, or cant afford, because it puts us at a negative margin?
  3. If early prepay is going to be necessary to lock in the best prices, are you willing to give me letters of credit on my purchases that are still in your inventory?
  4. What is your vision of your company’s future and how does that vision fit with my farms vision and mission statement?
  5. You are my preferred supplier of choice, therefore how can I be you customer of choice to insure your success and make your day to day business life and mine easier?
  6. As farms consolidate what are your plans to equip yourselves to provide more timely service to larger operations and fit into their business plans?

The first three questions will most likely make them uncomfortable. Your asking them to bear their soul and they see those questions as trust questions vs. business questions.  You must trust them if your doing business with them, but how are they relating to you as a business?  Your suppliers have to understand that your trusting them. They also have to understand your a business that needs business assurances not just handshakes.

The last three tell you what they think of you as a customer…………and how you relate to them. Are you an income opportunity or a business partner? I hope they answer in a business partner manner…….if they don’t……red flags should appear because they view you as only an income source,  instead of seeing you as a partner who will succeed when they succeed………..

I think we have to view our suppliers as our partners.  That being said you only want partners who want you to succeed in your business.  To me these questions tell me if they are my partner or just a guy trying to selling me bulk input commodities.

I have enough guys trying to sell me bulk input commodities………………..

Well, it’s 2012, or something like, that and January is going to start off with a bang so to speak.  A very busy month ahead for Robertson Farms.  First up is the Farm Futures Management Summit followed by the KARTA meeting shortly there- after. Throw in a IEMA meeting, K9SIL meeting and some other training meetings and the bigger part of the month is gone.

In between those meetings I hope we see the start of the new machine shed as well as getting the new (to us) NH3 bar home so we can put the VRT controller on it.  There is a planter to rebuild as well as the backhoe and dozer to work on.  So we need to hit the ground running and not look back.

Plus if the weather allows we need to pull a few soil samples, grain to haul and some scraping to do.

Fun and busy!

If that wasn’t enough……..there’s more!  First thing in the spare time is a revamp of the website.  I have been wanting to a major revamp but have not had the time with all the other stuff going on this fall.  The revamp will coincide with two new business ventures we are going to be entering into here on the farm.  Can’t say much about them right now but I think some folks will be surprised at what we have planned.  These will bring new opportunities for us in agriculture as well as begin to pave the way for the next generation of Robertson’s to enter the the operation.

Hopefully we will be making some announcements in the next 30 days or so……………..

Don’t be alarmed if I miss a day posting this month with all that’s happening.

It looks to be an exciting and busy winter!!!

Instead of the “Year in Review” recap that is typical this time of year, how about something different…….

My Top 5 Blogs of 2011

#1  ICCA Board works to kill off CPAg Certification

#2  Combines, Grain Bins, Grain Trucks and Bush Hogs

#3  Harvested Nitrogen Plot Today

#4  Corn Harvest Begins for Some

#5  My New Bag Phone

My Top 5 Categories Viewed in 2011

#1  Cutting Board Portable 

#2  Soil Testing

#3  Field Scouting

#4  Ham Radio

#5  Guns

2011 was a record year for

Almost 27,000 unique visitors who made 77,000 visits this year with 835,000 page hits while they visited.  December, November, September and May were the biggest months for visitors and page content viewed.

Thanks for visiting!  Thanks for commenting!  Thanks for telling your friends about us!

We are going to try and ramp it up a notch for 2012…….stay tuned!


I was at local business today when a guy asked me how much new iron I traded for this winter.  I had to laugh and say “none, I am not into that game”.

He laughed and said that “I must not be that good a farmer if I wasn’t spending all my profits on trading equipment to avoid paying taxes”.

I laughed back and said that an “old tractor worked just as good as a new one for the same job as last year”.

He shook his head in agreement and we talked about all the new iron that is showing up in driveways the last few weeks.  I have noticed several million dollars of combines and tractors moving up and down the roads around here as of late.  Guys have had a couple of good years and with the government and their squirrelly tax laws, especially the lack of a continuation in the large deprecation write off, they are spending the money to avoid the tax and also to insure they have some depreciation to write off in the future.

He then commented that he would like to invest some money into farm land and asked what it was going for right now.  After talking about some land sales around here where ground went for anywhere from four thousand to ten thousand he then laughed and said that he would leave his money in the bank.  He thought that the land market was over valued and headed for a bust.

I don’t know about the land market, it could bust or plateau.  I just don’t know.  I don’t seem to know much anymore when it comes to the farm economy.

The one thing I do know is that new iron will eventually rust.  And if there is a land bust, then that new iron will be hard to pay for in the future, rust or not.

The last few days my comment box has been full. Like overflowing with junk from the usual spammers but also from what I suspect is an internet phishing attack from China, North Korea or Russia. I keep getting the same comments in the same very bad English from different commenter’s but also multiple comments from the same “person” on multiple posts.

One might ask how I know or would suspect a phishing attack for one of these counties and I would say that I don’t have anything concrete but I offer up two things that make me say so.

First is comments are left on pictures I post.  I don’t allow posting of comments to any pictures I post on the blog so when a comment shows up in the in box attached to a picture I know that is not the usual “male enhancement pill” spam or the latest of what the Kardashians (spelling?  who cares?)  are up to or where I can see hot pictures of someone famous etc.  So when “John Smithy” posts a comment to a picture and says “I find post good and helped me back often”  I know its not the usual junk.

Second, I have a friend who does IT security for a big business.  He and I have compared notes in the past: When I get lots of picture comments from “John Smithy” and “Jenny Smithy” and the lot he has said that they get a lot of “hits” on their security systems from “foreign” countries, specifically Asian counties, during those same times.  While he wouldn’t tell me who, he didn’t say I was wrong when I mentioned that I think they come from China, N Korea and Russia.

I also suspect some come from the Middle East……..

The hits, like the comments, often have links to site that most likely will down load phishing apps to your computer.  Phishing apps are looking for passwords, bank numbers and all kinds of your information besides infecting you computer and maybe passing it one to someone else or making your computer into a host for their activities.

It is also not a coincidence that this latest attack over the weekend seemed to peak as news of the death of the North Korean dictator came out………..again it seems that a lot of spam attacks happen very closely to news events in those countries I listed.

But then again what do I know………just a farm boy.

I have been working on a whole bunch of small stuff in the office, mainly fertility recommendations but also some “what if” crop planning.  A few years ago I wrote a simple spreadsheet to do some what if type comparisons.  Then the thing grew to a not so simple monster of a spreadsheet.  I guess the correct term would be a worksheet or work book with something like 15 or 20 different linked spreadsheets in the workbook.  You change your corn acres and all the sheets update:   seed needs, fertility, chemicals, insurance, fuel and so forth as well as what your insurance coverages are and what your marketing price targets should be.

In running the spreadsheet the last couple of days I have had to put in acres of corn, beans and wheat as well as landlord split acres.  I never realized how many sets of “acres” I have for the same acreage.

There are FSA Acres, Rented Acres, Share Acres, Spray Acres, Harvest Acres and GPS Acres to name a few.

None of them are the same.

If you farm you know……..its 40 acres you pay rent on that only has 38 acres in it by planting and spraying but is 37.2 by GPS around the boundary but shows 41 on the yield monitor and the FSA office has it down as 40.5 acres for the farm program.

So you rent 40 acres but insure 40.5 because that’s the official government measurement, you plant and spray 38 acres of inputs but combine 41 acres of crops and figure your coffee shop yields off the 37.2 acres of the GPS unit…………

All those acres add up…………

Between things that have to get done I have been trying to get some things done here in the office and in the house that I have neglected or that got pushed to the back burner because of everything else that has gone on this year.

One of those projects that I got started over the weekend and am hoping to finish up today is installing the new kitchen counter and sink that has been laying in the family room for the better part of 10 months.  So at an hour here and a hour there I am down to installing the sink and plumbing it up.

Which means a parts run this morning…………

So off to two (2) local businesses to get the stuff I need.  Why not one (1)?  Because no one in this economy will stock any inventory.  Its not just hardware stores its farm equipment stores and tire shops and everyone with inventory.  They are all happy to order, at an additional cost, but no one has any inventory.  So it takes two stops to get what a fellow needs to do an odd job.

But I am wandering off topic………

I could get started on this inventory and parts thing esp. with equipment dealers who charge a premium for ordering stuff but I won’t.  I have learned to save gas on the farm side and just go online and order it that way.  Its here in 24 hrs delivered to the door by the Brown Truck of Joy (UPS) and I don’t have to leave the place, drive anywhere and find out they don’t have it…….plus its always flat rate shipping that is cheaper than the gas to drive to the parts store anyway……….

But again I wander off topic……..a blog for another time.

I got home from my parts run and put the receipts down on my desk so that I could record them in the checkbook.  You know a receipt, that strip of while thermal paper that comes running out of the cash register or computer printer once you complete your transaction and pay for your items.  A receipt.  A receipt is an evidence of purchase.  A receipt is an acknowledgement that a transaction has taken place.

Well, I guess we are so stupid as a nation anymore that this morning when I put the receipt down on the desk, I noticed on top of the of the white thermal paper, in bold face type the following:  THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT.  

What?  I mean what have people been thinking  the paper they get was?  THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT.  KEEP THIS FOR YOUR RECORDS.

Is being able to identify what a receipt is at this particular business so difficult that they have to print THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT on the tickets?  Is this some legal junk to keep them from being liable for returns or has there been a problem legally where they have to state to the customer that they have got their receipt?   

If any of this is the case I don’t want to shop there anymore.  Why?  Because that much stupid could rub off.  Both in the business that has to tell its customers what a receipt is and in the customers that shop there.  

Its no wonder our country and economy is in so much trouble……………

Well its that time of year again, time to sign up for the Farm Futures Management Summit.  This is the second year that I have been asked to speak and am looking forward to not only speaking but just attending the meeting itself.  I just love this meeting and think it is the best meeting of the year and not because I am speaking.  It is just one of those meetings where the line up of speakers is relevant, current and forward looking and not reflective and re hashing the same old wore out research or topics.  

Its fresh.  Its alive…………..that is the best way I know how to describe it.  I always leave St Louis with a positive outlook even in those years when their wasn’t a positive outlook to see on the horizon.

I think the reason why is that all the other meetings I attend during the year are based on reacting to what is happening in the agriculture world after it happens.  The speakers at the Summit focus on being proactive and managing what is happening in the agriculture world before it happens.  The information gained at this meeting has help me be a more profitable farmer each year.  No its not one big thing that David Kohl or Mike Boehlje say or that Moe Russell or Daryl Dunteman point to but its the trends they talk about and all the little things that add up to something big that make the difference.

So I have taken to labeling meeting invites I get anymore into two categories:  Reactionary and Proactive.  Then I try hard to make all the Proactive meetings I can attend and fill in with the Reactionary if I need to.

The problem is, in my opinion, that most of agriculture is focused on being reactionary…………  A result is that a lot of meetings beat the same old dead horse to death.  Reactionary meeting invites fill my inbox and mail box.  Proactive meetings seem to be few and far between these days.  They exist and you must seek them out and you will have to travel to get there but that is a small sacrifice to pay for the empowerment they give you.

So I hope to see you in St Louis for what I anticipate will be the great PROACTIVE meeting of the year………….  I wouldn’t expect anything else at the Summit.


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