Meetings

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……..you 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 (http://www.veristech.com/index.aspx) .  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.

Been slow posting….but what has there been to post about?  I mean, I can talk about the drought, but we here at ground zero are all but toast at this point and I am to the point I couldn’t care less.

Anyway……

I have been on the road off and on for the last two weeks and will be doing so again starting next week and have made some notes while driving.  I will try to do a meeting comment post in the next night or two, but for right now the driving part is what has my attention.

So here are some observations from last week or so on the road to meetings etc:

1) No one turns a corner anymore, they cut the corner. I have now started pulling all the way up to and on the white line to make people turn a corner.

2) Turn signals are optional except for old lady’s with blue hair who keep them on for miles and miles and miles.

3) I have disconnected my Garmin and have gone back to paper maps and a compass. I have yet to get lost with it vs. the GPS.

4) White or yellow parking lines in parking lots seem to be optional for young girl/women drivers.

5) Speed limits are for sissy’s and are only a suggestion and not followed.

There are more……..but these are the ones that are ever present when I am on anything but a country road the last few weeks.

“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.

I have been hit recently by those in academia who believe that anything that comes from the university system that is called “research”, “peer reviewed” and published is gospel.

Who’s gospel is my question.

Having been through a MS program and having done research, thesis defense and abstract of other research papers as part of my MS program, I read all research with much skepticism.

First thing I want to know about any research is who funded it.  Follow the money.  One does not fund a research project with hopes that their desired result is not discovered.  So who funded the research.  If the money is tied to a company or individual who could benefit from such research, then the results are suspect to me.  If the government funded any research it is suspect to me.   If  those who funded the research also are sponsoring the researcher, then they and their research are junk.

Call me paranoid.

Second I want to know who the researcher(s) are and what they have to gain from the research.  Now don’t get me wrong, a researcher who is looking for a cure to a disease is looking for RESULTS or POSITIVES in their research.  That to me is not suspect.  One who is getting sponsorships from the one who funds research and gets a positive result, then that is suspect.  We have a bunch of those folks in the world of agriculture right now.  There are several well known agriculture professors who are out on the rubber chicken and roast beef circuit who are pumping up the results of their research, who are also being sponsored by those who funded the research.  The ever-present sales pitch is part of their “research”.  So I take their results with a grain of salt.

Call me skeptical.

Lastly there are those who use old research to justify their current research.  In other words it’s easier to get researcher A’s paper and then go and duplicate the result on a small scale and get the desired result without doing real research.  Again there seems to be a herd of those type university folks out there right now.  I suspect its a lack of funding from the traditional sources but more likely its just to prove their bias or please their sponsor.

Call me hacked off.

What is research?  I think I know real research when I see it.  1)  It must be randomized and replicated in a way that removes the element of bias of a given result. (Side by sides are not research and multiple side by sides are not research)  2) It must be done in enough locations to show a true cause and effect relationship (for fertilizer, chemicals and additives)  3) The researcher should be free of bias.  While they can get funding from the persons for whom the research is for, they should not be sponsored by them.  4) The research should last over several trials or several years to show it is not luck, happenstance or coincidence.

The sad fact is that a lot of peer reviewed scientific research that was showed at winter ag meetings this winter had little true research in them.  Mostly it was either rehash of old research or it was so biased that it was meaningless.  Worse yet the professors from the Land Grants should know better……..and are the worst offenders.

The barn crew worked on our shed again today and we are now 3/4 roofed and 1/2 sided.  The mud is a problem for the lifts, but I hope that with a few more days of work that they will get it buttoned up.  Then the mud wont be an issue.  The biggest issue today was the wind……it picked up 10 sheets of roofing and knocked it off the lift and bent it.  New roofing wont be here until Wednesday now.

 

Over the weekend we got to shoot a Ruger LCP, the little .380 with a laser sight on it.  Man was I disappointed.  You can skip the laser because it is pretty much a belly gun at best.  I mean at best that’s all it is.  We had a terrible time hitting paper at 7 yards.  The double action trigger pull was horrid as well.  I guess I am spoiled with my Glock.

Got the new hitch put in the truck and got a new trailer on the way for the soil sampling rig.  Will have to make some mods when it gets here……but that being said it will be a very nice addition to the fleet for this summer.

I didn’t get to the farm show at Louisville this year but it seems like everyone else did…….. wasn’t able to get much accomplished last week work wise.  From what I hear, there was all kinds of expensive stuff there this year…..so its a good thing I didn’t go!

Now that the meeting schedule is pretty much down to one here and there I want to get cracking on soil testing work and getting equipment ready for farming the next few weeks.  My hope is my “to do” list gets a lot smaller the next seven to ten days!

Just returned from the Illinois Project Appleseed IBC.  IBC stands for Instructor Boot Camp.  The IBC is a training event to help mentor IIT’s (instructors in training) or Orange Hats to become qualified instructors or Red Hats.  There are five stages of IIT from IIT0 to IIT4.  I am currently an IIT2, so I have two more IIT progressions before I go for my Red Hat!

The weekend consist of reviewing and teaching the history and events of April 19, 1775 as well as polishing up on the marksmanship skills necessary to teach the shooting portion of an Appleseed weekend.  To become an IIT you first have to have attended at least two Appleseed weekend shoots and shoot Rifleman, a minimum score of 210 on the AQT (Army Qualification Test) that has a maximum score of 250.  Shooting Rifleman is not an easy task as a lot of experienced shooters think it might be.  It took me three Appleseeds and a lot of practice in between them to master the skills necessary to score above a 210.

Instruction was done by Dond, Master Shoot Boss and State Coordinator for Illinois.  Dond has a very unique way of approaching a COF (course of fire) for an Appleseed weekend that results in very high scores for the shooters by the end of the day.  Small group sessions were done by Red Hats or instructors and shoot bosses to help polish up the things that were taught by Dond.

I had the privilege to be in small groups with Red Hats Wurstmacher, Castle Mountain, Shooter 30-06 and Tornado.  These are not there real names but their “forum” names that they go by at the shoots.  All of these folks are very passionate about the history and shooting that goes into a Appleseed weekend.

Castle Mountain reviews some of the history and teaches how to deliver the important points during a breakout session

 

Shooter 30-06 goes over the retreat of the British Regulars from Concord or the “Third Strike” using his “battle road map” during small group time.

Woodl practices explaining the AQT and how each stage of the AQT is to be shot during a breakout session.

It was a great time, made a lot of new friends and learned a lot to help me be a better IIT and one day a Red Hat!

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……..it 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………..

 

Last week, as you know by now if you read this blog or follow me on Twitter, I attended the KARTA meeting.  KARTA (Link Here) stands for Kansas Ag Research Technology Association.

KARTA (originally KARA) was organized in May 2000 by a group of innovative Kansas producers, university researchers, and industry members who shared a common desire to learn more about production agriculture and continue to be a part of the leading technological and informational changes taking place on today’s farms

This year was the fifteenth annual conference. It was an applied workshop consolidating information about new and old technologies with a focus on supporting scientifically valid on-farm research efforts and increasing overall farm business profitability.

Topics included precision ag, social media, economics of travel logistics between fields and farms, on farm research, and crop nutrition as well as various presentations by industries on their new, current or trending technologies.

The Thursday night after dinner topic covered land rents and land values.  This particular discussion was led by Dr. Terry Kastens & Dr. Kevin Dhuyvetter.  I would call it the “Bear Pit” of KARTA.  It was a fantastic discussion involving any and all attendees of the meeting.  The topic was batted back and forth and ripped apart…and that was just the three hours or so that I stayed for it!  Very good discussion…….

While the evening session or Bear Pit was my favorite part of the meeting, I must say that I give the entire meeting a “10″ as far as meetings go.  It was very well organized, very well attended by producers and industry. It was an open exchange of information. Information was CURRENT, RELEVANT, FORWARD LOOKING and it was HONEST.  It was everything that an agriculture producer meeting should be.

I think so highly of the meeting that I believe we need something like it here in Southern Illinois!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I hate the usual “rubber chicken and roast beef” agriculture meeting circuit here in Illinois.  Well, this wasn’t a rubber chicken meeting by a long shot………in my opinion it very closely resembled, for the production and precision side, what Farm Futures Management Summit is for the economic and business side.

I left there with that good feeling, that positive feeling of knowing that I had been rubbing shoulders with the progressive life long learners of agriculture.  When that happens you know you have been to a good meeting……….yes their world is different than mine here in southern Illinois, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s the mindset I look for.  The mindset of being proactive vs reactive.

KARTA is a great proactive meeting………I highly suggest you attend the 16th meeting if at all possible.

 

Paul Miller Construction had started on our new shop/office/warehouse.

Lots to do today, will have a write up on KARTA for tomorrow……..

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Exhibitor hall at KARTA meeting.  Good crowd of progressive thinkers. Should be a good meeting! 

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………………..

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The Bear Pit tonight at the Farm Futures Management Summit. A massive amount of brain power! 

I had better be on my A game tomorrow when I speak!

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 krfarm.net

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!

 

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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