• John Vogel

    Taking This Farm Death Personally

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 28, 2011

      It seems strange, yet fitting, to be writing this on Memorial Day weekend. This morning, I spotted a “Happy Memorial Day” sign, and it hit me wrong. A week ago yesterday, Richard Fesko’s family found him in a dairy manure pit – overcome and claimed by deadly gases. That day, the dairy farmer from Spafford, N.Y., joined the long fatality list that makes agriculture one of America’s most hazardous industries. Fortunately, no one else also fell victim to the…

    Continue Reading


  • Lon Tonneson

    It's A Two-Tractor Planting Year

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 27, 2011

    How many tractors does it take to plant? You’d usually say one, of course. But in parts of the Dakotas this year it’s taking one tractor to pull the planter and another tractor, or perhaps even two tractors, to pull the planter tractor when it gets stuck. Pull tractors have been needed a lot in the fall with combines and sugarbeet lifters, but not so much in the spring. Every year is different, I guess, and this one will be one for the record books. What…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Competition on a Quarter-Scale

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 26, 2011

    Just Added: I talk about the Q-Scale Competition with Wisconsin Farm Broadcaster Pam Jahnke - use the player below to listen Those who follow this blog know that I've been involved - off and on - with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International 1/4-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition (yes it is a mouthful). It's a program that provides agricultural engineering students the change to have a near real-world experience in designing and building an…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Remembering Our Farmer Soldiers

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 25, 2011

    Memorial Day has its roots among the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, including hundreds of thousands of farmers. On the cover of the May 2011 issue of Nebraska Farmer, farmer and soldier, Chief Master Sgt. Bob Huttes, poses with his tractor. Farmer soldiers, like Huttes, have been serving our nation and protecting it through thick and thin since the American Revolution. Better yet, Huttes is part of an Agribusiness Development Team that will spend a year improving Afghanistan’s…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    We Deserve Fair, Unbiased News Coverage

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 25, 2011

    A couple months ago, I read a news article about Newsweek merging with “The Daily Beast” news website. As part of the merger, Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker, took the helm as editor in chief of both news outlets. The article was quite enthusiastic about Brown taking the helm, saying she would likely push the magazine back to its news roots. When I saw an offer for a free trial subscription, I excitedly signed up. Just two weeks in, my enthusiasm has faded…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Here's the Point

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 25, 2011

    Show season is heating up, all across the Midwest and, honestly, across the better part of the rural U.S. countryside. The best cattle, lambs and pigs have been vigilantly selected. The careful feeding has commenced. The daily rinsing and grooming may have even already begun. Preview shows are about to be held, or have already been held. But really, all that isn't even the point. This is the point: This is Campbell Martin, getting a last-minute bit of advice and a pep talk from his…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Oh, To Have The Determination of a Ram!

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 23, 2011

    I've learned a lot from our flock ram. I've learned not to forget where you are when you look the other way. I've learned not to bend over if he's within 20 yards. I've learned that when you forget any of these things and get plastered from behind, it hurts! Especially if you're 58 years old and have no clue it's coming- kind of like a quarterback getting blindsided because his lineman missed a block. Ouch! I've also learned perhaps the most important lesson of all from watching our ram…

    Continue Reading


  • Tim White

    An Award for the Ages

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on May 22, 2011

    The guy on our May cover has been farming for less than 10 years. He chose to start his dairy operation at the worst possible time for milk prices. Yet by following his organic instincts he managed the low prices by signing a 4-year contract to get started and has just extended it another 4 years. He pastures the cows, milks seasonally and averages a measly 14,000 pounds per cow per year. But he’s doing well enough to have built a barn and has expanded to a year-round system. Not only…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It's So Fun To Be Grandma At This Time of Year

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 20, 2011

    When I was  a Mom, I used to dread the last two weeks of school. All of you moms know what I mean. This is the time of field trips and demonstration projects and plays and concerts and recitals that show off what we have learned this year. Back in those days, it seemed like a burst of permission slips and bag lunches; of making last-minute costumes and buying outfits and taking time off work to go watch something. Now that I'm a mellow grandma, I have a whole new perspective on these…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    The Hits Just Keep Coming

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 20, 2011

    Looks like farmer readers are in a buying mood, at least according to the latest survey of dealers by Henry Kirn, machinery analyst for UBS, the investment house. UBS has been conducting dealer surveys for years, and we've featured the results in this blog from time to time. This latest survey (Part 1 of Survey #28) offers some interesting insight into what dealers are seeing from their customers. I thought I'd share a few of those results with you. The survey was sent to 2,200 John Deere…

    Continue Reading


  • John Vogel

    It's Been A Heckuva Spring!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 20, 2011

      You probably suffered from sticker shock at the price of the last planter you bought. Hopefully, you didn't down-size planter capacity because of it. And here's why: This year, most farmers in the Northeast are needing every bit of planting speed and machine capacity they can muster – and maybe more. Those who socked corn into the ground last week saw the fruits of their labor pop through the ground this week. On Tuesday, I was so excited to spot my first field of corn breaking…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    When to Speak Up, When to Shut Up

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 20, 2011

    RECYCLED: In honor of Planting '11, I'm reposting this little tale of marker woe from last year, posted on April 22, 2010. Even now, I think of it every time I see a planter marker. I doubt my husband feels the same. Actually, he's probably forgotten. Actually, it's probably better that way. So earlier this week, I took lunch to my husband and rode a couple rounds with him, which was nice since it was the only time I'd see him in the daylight that day. Plus, it gave me a chance to…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Thunder, Warnings, Not Much Rain

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 19, 2011

    For two nights in a row, we've had heavy thunder and light rain, bringing us an accumulation of only .05 of an inch, hardly enough to move the needle on the severe drought designation of the U.S. Drought Monitor. More storms with warnings of high winds, large hail and possible tornadoes are in the forecast for the next couple of days, bringing the potential for at least spotty, local rain that will helps some farmers as long as they get the rain and escape the hail. Nothing, however, is…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    More Planting Woes - The Final Chapter

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 19, 2011

    What is a normal planting season anyway? This spring has been frustrating to many farmers across the nation. Considering my usual planting problems, as described in my previous blog entries, it is par for the course for me. But farmers around the nation have had reason for extra concern. Between tornadoes, flooding, snow, late frost, wind and generally cold, wet conditions, farmers are left scratching their heads about how to get the crop in the ground. In spite of all of these obstacles…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    The Only Peanut Farmer in Illinois

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 19, 2011

    About a year ago, our oldest won a bag of peanuts, because she guessed there were about 400 peanuts in the bag. So we were eating a lot of peanuts. And at about the same time, my colleague at our Southern Farmer magazine, Pam Golden, ran a cover on her magazine showing a peanut farmer pulling a plant out of the ground. I showed it to the kids so they could see how the peanuts actually grow beneath the ground. Nathan, 5 at the time and ever the farmer, commenced to asking a whole lot of…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    I'm Tired of People Trying To Make Us Feel Ashamed For Growing Corn

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 18, 2011

    In the course of a week, I’ve heard the old “subsidies drive our corn planting decisions” argument on a two separate instances. I’m not buying it for several reasons. First, I’ve visited numerous Illinois farmers. And, they are darn good at growing corn. Rows are perfectly straight, there’s not a weed to be found and yields consistently top 200 bushels per acre. Next, have you checked a corn price lately? Today, the nearby futures price jumped over…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Alarm Is Ringing; Help Needed Now

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 17, 2011

    I just got home a couple of hours ago after spending two days on the road in the worst of dry, dusty, windblown western Kansas. This is not just a dry spell. Or a drought. This is a disaster. I am saying that as someone who has seen a lot of western Kansas dry weather. This is the worst I have ever seen in the western two tiers of counties. Wade Tucker, who farms in Stanton County, says he's used to dry weather -- the average rainfall in the county is just 13.5 inches, about an inch…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Each Person's Definition of 'Too Wet to Work' is His Own

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 16, 2011

    The farmer on the other end of the line was planting corn. It was just a few days ago. He started talking to me like I had known him for years. This was the first time I had ever talked to him, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. I have fretted over similar situations and made similar observations for years. "Tom, I just don't get it," he said. "I just don't get it." OK, don't get what? "I finally started planting at noon today, my fields are well-tiled, we're on good black dirt…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Above and Beyond, or Just Normal Customer Service?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 13, 2011

    During my visit to Agco's Batavia facility, one of the company's key parts supply operations, we got into a discussion about supporting the customer. Some of the folks on the team are relatively new to ag - not new to parts support - but new to our industry. And they've already picked up on one key fact: When you're down you don't have a spare machine around to pick up the slack. Joe DiPietro, senior manager, strategy and performance, tells the story of a farmer from Nebraska who called on a…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Farmers Market Reinforces My Thoughts on Mainstream Food Production

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 12, 2011

    Last week, the wife and I drove to St. Louis for the kickoff of one of the city’s many farmers markets. We have some friends who run a gourmet grilled cheese stand at the Tower Grove Park farmers markets. It’s called “The Big Cheese” if you’re interested. Anyhow, I love the sandwiches, but could do without all the “other” stuff. On the way over, I was grumbling about how folks are continually duped by buzzwords like organic and sustainable. My…

    Continue Reading


  • John Vogel

    Prices Make Burn-down Cover Crops Passé

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 12, 2011

      It must be the "old farmer" still in me: I hate to see farmers seeding the land during fall, only to burn down a decent cereal crop stand with herbicide in early spring. Maryland farmers get paid well for it, and that helps. But in these peak commodity price times, how can you economically justify not harvesting a valuable grain or silage crop from that cover crop land? That's the issue you must wrestle with before you finish fall harvest. Before then, you'll really need to…

    Continue Reading


  • Lon Tonneson

    On The Road (Maybe) In Flood Country

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 12, 2011

    The last couple weeks I've spent a lot of time on township roads in Dakota flood country -- northeast North Dakota, the Red River Valley, the James River valley and Devils Lake basin. The township roads are mess. Some farmers can't get to their homes. Some can't get equipment to their fields. Everybody has to go a long way out of their way to get anyplace. So I was riding with Terry Entzminger, of Jamestown, N.D., and he says that he wishes USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Planting Woes - The Sequel

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 12, 2011

    Here is another tale of my absent-mindedness in the field. If you thought last week’s story about my boneheaded planting time endeavors was bad, wait until you read this week’s story. A few years ago, as I was checking seed placement of my first-planted corn a day or so after planting, I made a heartbreaking discovery. Two rows of corn, side by side, were left unplanted across a 60-acre field. Over the entire field, two rows were not only failing to sprout, but were not planted…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    When Are You Too Diversified?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 12, 2011

    I've been reading from A Corporate Tragedy, a 1985 book by Barbara Marsh that examines the business decisions that led to the rise and fall of the International Harvester Company. I don't believe it was a bestseller by any means – I found it on my bookshelf, an inheritance from a previous editor who appears to have received it from the publisher – but it holds some fascinating tidbits of business acumen, including accounts from senior executives and the decisions they made over the…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    A Record of the Unwanted Sort

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 10, 2011

    Those for whom hope springs eternal -- that would be most farmers -- were talking last March about the prospects for the wheat crop and how things just might turn out OK if we got a little rain and avoided 90-degree days in May. This is not the year for that wish to come true. Most of the driest area of the state, the western one-third to one-half, hasn't gotten rain. The rest of the state has had showers, but not the slow, soaking rain we really need. As for the 90-degree days, well…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Gaming for Farm Kids

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 10, 2011

    Our household's latest obsession: Drive Green. I wish I were kidding. It started at Easter. I'd found Drive Green through the Scholastic book order at school and bought it, on a whim, for my 6-year-old's Easter basket. The description promised you could "farm the heartland with genuine John Deere!" For Nathan, that's all we really needed to know. I was certain he'd love it, less certain it wouldn't be a cheesy mess but at $15, figured it was a small gamble. It turns out, it's kind…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Mud, Mud And More Mud!

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 9, 2011

    Misery may not love company, even though the old saying says it does. At any rate, if you're tired of staring at mud in your barnlot, you're not alone. We've got more mud here on our tiny three acres than I thought we possibly could ever pile in one place. Purdue University's Gary Steinhardt could do soil compaction studies here from now until he retires. The only good thing is that, as they say, and this one I do believe, 'this too shall pass.' Eventually it will dry up, most likely too much…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    OK, That Precious Bundle Is Here

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 6, 2011

    OK, I'm STILL technically on vacation, but our new baby Dylan Matthew is SOOOO cute, how could I not share some early pix of what an awesome baby he is? Big sister Chloe thinks he is pretty special. He was born at 2:42 p.m. on May 3. He weighed 8 lb. 12 oz. and was 20 inches long (making him a bit plump, as newborns go) and his head, for all you moms out there, was an impressive 13 3/4 inches. We see bits of both of his sisters and his big brother, but he is his own Dylan. And…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    One Day's Applause Is Another Day's Lawsuit

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 6, 2011

    Oh, how fleeting is fame. The new Siemens Wind turbine factory in Hutchinson has started moving its first nacelles out of the plant. It issued a press release on May 5 that it was shipping by rail, which it logically and accurately pointed out is far more "green" than shipping by truck, given that the railroad can move a lot more freight for a lot less cost and a lot less fuel consumed. Now to the flip side. A day after lauding rail's more reasonable freight and greater ability to move…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Planting Woes

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 6, 2011

    This is what happens when I’m in a hurry to get things done. I will begin with my disclaimer. All of the farm machinery around my place would be considered “extremely experienced” by most regular farmer standards. So, when I had problems a few years back with my 8-row, 800 IH Cyclo air planter, you might be thinking that it is because that model planter has been around a while. The planter is in excellent shape, I’m happy to report. However, when I get in a hurry…

    Continue Reading


  • John Vogel

    'Hello, I'm From The Inquirer, And Have Questions

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 6, 2011

      Little more than a week ago, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer emailed then called with questions about the Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer program. She was nice enough, and appeared to be on a legitimate fact-finding mission rather than an investigative journalism crusade. After visiting Walt and Ellen Moore at WalMoore Farms in Chester County, Pa., she had many questions about how Master Farmers are selected and what was exceptional about this farm. That didn't seem too hard. But…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    A Good Lead

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 6, 2011

    As the parent of three small kids, I've learned to write down the stuff they say. Like this gem of a conversation three years ago, as we pulled into the field to take supper to John. Nathan was 3 at the time. Nathan: “Dat’s corn.” Me: “That’s right. How did you know that?” Nathan: “’Cause. I know tings. God told me.” Or this one from a year ago: Nathan: "How will we know which one is God and which one is Jesus when we get to…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Pulling it Together

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 6, 2011

    There's that great scene at the end of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark pf the Covenant has been turned over to the Army and they insist it's been put in a safe place. The scene ends with a janitor-like person pushing the crate with the Ark of the Covenant into a super-giant warehouse in amongst thousands more just like it. I always wondered how they'd find it when needed. That same giant-warehouse feel will greet any visitor to a farm equipment maker's parts support…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Is Clean Water Worth the Hassle?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 4, 2011

    Some months, I sit down to write articles and every word flows from the pen like magic. As Farm Futures executive editor Mike Wilson once put it, “Sometimes there are stories that just seem to write themselves.” This is not one of those months. For several days, I’ve been wading through pages of notes from about 10 sources on what needs to be done to reduce nutrient runoff and clean up Illinois’ water. It’s a complicated topic, and there’s a lot of…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Fly Your Flag?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 4, 2011

    Monday morning, caught in a wave of patriotism over the U.S.'s defeat of Osama bin Laden, our neighbor, Jerry, called and wanted to know if John could get the flag back up on the grain leg. This was at approximately 7:45. John said he'd be glad to but last year's flag got shredded on an incredibly windy day last November. By 8:30, John popped back into the house for tools. Jerry had already been to town, secured a new flag and was back. Which meant John was about to make a trip up the…

    Continue Reading


  • Tim White

    It’s All about Drainage Now

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on May 3, 2011

    How long will it take to dry farm fields so farmers can begin to get a crop planted? It depends on the soil type, says Larry Brown, an Ohio State University ag engineer who specializes in drainage. “Water moves only as fast the soil properties allow it to,” says Brown. “In silty clays it may take several warm and windy days to dry it out. In silty loams it may be quicker. We are talking about several days of the right weather not a night or two.” Drainage contractor Len…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Broken Hearts for Flooded Farm Families

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 3, 2011

    Shortly after 10 p.m. last night, the Army Corps of Engineers blew a 2-mile stretch of the levee on the Missouri side of the Mississippi river, at Cairo. Folks like Benton farmer Kelly Robertson felt the blast 80 miles away. Water immediately began to flow south onto Missouri farmland, through bins, sheds and farm houses. The blowing of the levee took place only after much litigation. The breach was proposed in order to save Cairo. Reportedly, 2,700 homes could be saved from floodwaters by…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Technically On Vacation, But I Can't Resist the Urge

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 2, 2011

    This week, I am technically on vacation, but I couldn't resist the urge to put something on this blog to let all you guys know what is going on with me. My newest grandchild is scheduled to be born sometime tomorrow. His mom will go in about 7 a.m. Wednesday for induction and we'll see from there. He will be number four in his family of two sisters and a brother -- plus a little angel brother who was born on his due date but tangled in his cord five years ago on June 25. We miss that…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    How One Man Touched Many Lives

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 2, 2011

    If you farm in Indiana and haven’t heard Bob Taylor speak, haven’t taken a class from him or know someone who did, you may ask yourself if you get out and around enough. Taylor, of the Purdue University Ag Economics Department, has become an icon in his field. Best known for teaching 40,000 students over 50 years, he’s also given countless Extension meeting programs, counseled hundreds of farm families, and continues to anchor the Indiana Prairie Farmer Young Farmer column…

    Continue Reading