The Farm Progress Show is less than a month away. And I'll be in Decatur, Ill., with thousands of other folks checking out the latest technology and newest products. But I got to wondering the other day, what farmers might wish for that has not yet been invented or manufactured. So I emailed a random group of farmers and asked them what they day dream about in terms of equipment or technology to make running their operations easier or more efficient.
Not knowing what to expect, I got a big chuckle out of the first response which came from Alan and Mavis Stevens, Northwood, Iowa. 'A self-loading pig and an automatic rock picker on all tillage equipment,' was at the top of their list.
An Iowa Master Farmer from Anita was a bit more pragmatic. Varel Bailey says he would like to see technology and machinery that captures nitrates in tile and small stream water and enables it to be re-applied back on the land when needed. That's a great idea and maybe not too far-fetched.
Varel's next wish would be a microrhyzobial inoculant that can be spread by the rear spinner on a soybean combine that stabilizes the soil by macro-colloidal aggregation to reduce erosion and enhance crop root-to-soil nutrient transfer for the next crop. Another great idea and one someone should pounce on.
Obviously Varel has been keeping up on all the recent cover crop chatter. He'd like to see an artificial dormancy regulator for grasses and legumes that allows a sod cover to be turned off in early May and back on mid-September. That would allow row crops to be grown in a perennial sod field.
Modern machinery manuals bother Larry Anton form LaPorte City, Iowa. He's one of our 'more mature' Master Farmers and says too often manuals aren't clear enough – they skip some of the necessary background to understand computerized machinery with GPS and auto steer options, for example. 'If you want to explain something from 1 to 10, don't start at step five. Manual writers assume the average 'older person' knows all there is that comes before, they don't.'
LaVon Griffieon and her husband Craig farm near Ankeny, Iowa. She hit on a great topic on her wish list. Too often, the wife isn't kept up to date on the farm business. For example, she would like to see every farmer complete a yearly checklist (maybe to be completed with income taxes) to be sure Mr. Farmer has written a procedures manual for the farm wife so she can carry the business if the farmer dies or ends up in a coma.
She also believes the annual checklist should include a transition plan for the next generation plan.
LaVon's ideas don't require any innovation other than the initiative to sit down and get it done.
Farmersville, Ill. Grower Larry Fesser likes to keep his landlords happy. He says many of them still want roadside ditches mowed to control hedge. His wish -- a mower that would mow roadsides at 2 inches and not gouge the dirt or bust the PTO or turn too short and one that anyone could operate.
I'm sure you have been dreaming of some crazy or not-so-crazy ideas. I'd love to hear about them.