• Josh Flint

    I Fell For Two April Fool's Jokes This Year

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 4, 2014

    This fool fell for not one, but two, April Fool’s jokes this year. I’m not proud of it, but in both cases my inner optimist was on full display. As I browsed my Facebook feed, I came across one post that said “Obamacare has been repealed!” I immediately took to the web to confirm this exciting announcement. When I came up empty, I checked the post date. Yep, April 1. (I was reading this on April 2.) I’d been got. You would think I’d be on guard for more of…

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  • Josh Flint

    Chipotle's Food Is Bad

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on March 7, 2014

    I’ve been slow to jump on the Chipotle-shaming bandwagon. My apologies. Numerous ag blogs have focused on the burrito shop’s Farmed and Dangerous ad campaign. If you’ve been living under a rock, the campaign is yet another attempt to create a distinct line in the sand between evil corporate farmers and altruistic organic/sustainable/local/(insert buzzword) farmers. In my experience covering Illinois ag, the farmers raising meat for big companies like Tyson Foods and Cargill…

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  • Josh Flint

    Here's the Big Reason Blender Pumps Haven't Caught On

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 25, 2014

    A week after the National Ethanol Conference wrapped up in Orlando, I keep coming back to two things. First, it was 80 degrees F down there! It was still in the 50s when I flew back to St. Louis. And, now it’s back to winter. I think most everyone will agree – spring can’t get here soon enough.  The second thing is this little fact. The average fuel station proprietor only makes a 3-cent-per-gallon profit on gas. That means on an average fuel transaction, the proprietor…

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  • Josh Flint

    Precision Planting Shows Off the Future of Planting

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on January 24, 2014

    If Precision Planting is a different company since being purchased by Monsanto, I sure can’t tell. They’re just as innovative as ever. Whenever founder Gregg Sauder speaks, he stresses perfect seed placement, every time. Numerous times I’ve heard him tell the audience that speed isn’t everything. Turns out, Sauder’s engineering team was working behind the scenes to achieve a different goal – planting at 10 miles per hour! The last piece of the puzzle to…

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  • Josh Flint

    The Great Tool Purchase of 2006

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 31, 2013

    After a little more than a year of marriage, I happened upon one of the sweetest deals ever. Unfortunately, my wife didn’t think it was so sweet. A coworker was moving to Chicago. In the process, he was clearing out his garage, i.e. he was selling all of his tools. Rather than have a garage sale, he needed to get rid of this stuff fast. I was definitely interested.  One Saturday, I borrowed dad’s truck and headed over to his house. Several years of suburban living meant he…

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  • Josh Flint

    A Tablet Buyer's Guide for Farmers

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 11, 2013

    We’re getting down to the nitty gritty – only 14 shopping days before Christmas Day. Holly Spangler put together a nice list of gift ideas for a farmer. I’d like to add to that list by giving you a farm buyer’s guide for tablets. In case you haven’t noticed, tablets are one of the fastest growing segment of technology right now. They bridge the gap between the smartphone and full-on pc (laptop or desktop) perfectly. There are three main operating…

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  • Josh Flint

    Retailers Continue to Go High Tech

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 6, 2013

    Marketing has reached a new level. The local news stations continue to report on stories that border on privacy invasion when it comes to retailer behavior. For instance, there was the story about Target sending a young high-school teenager coupons for diapers because the store was able to recognize her purchases were prenatal in nature. Of course, her parents didn’t know and it led to a bit of outrage. (Why she hadn’t shared this new with her parents is a bit concerning to…

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  • Josh Flint

    I'm Thankful To Be An American

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 26, 2013

    Holly Spangler has done a terrific job of blogging this November. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, she’s written about Five Things that she’s thankful for each day this month. Last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I stumbled upon a different sort of Thanksgiving blog. It was a list of things folks from other countries didn’t believe were true about America until they moved here. (Thank you Thomas Marten for posting this.) As you scroll through the…

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  • Josh Flint

    Women Are Smarter Than Men

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 7, 2013

    Earlier today, Holly Spangler wrote a terrific blog post with five photography tips. Give it a read. You’ll notice I’m the star, albeit in a Barney Fife sort of way, of the second tip. Now, I’d like to give you the “rest of the story.” It’s a great point in how men and women have completely different thought processes. So, yes, a group of 8-10 women asked me to take a photo of them at Ag Media Summit. I was handed approximately four cameras &ndash…

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  • Josh Flint

    Halloween Used To Be So Much Fun

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 25, 2013

    What happened to Halloween? It used to be so much fun. Years ago, the family would get together for a weekend hayride and food. Later that night, we’d sit around the campfire and subject ourselves to the horror of listening to my uncle pick and bludgeon his way through the Eagles’ greatest hits. On the actual day itself, we’d head over to another uncle’s house. He lived in downtown St. James, Mo. As my cousins and I trick-or-treated, the grownups would hang…

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  • Josh Flint

    Homemade Taco Night Never Disappoints

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 18, 2013

    Many of us have been there. “Oh, look at this deal on ground beef! I’ll pick up a few packages.” Three days later and you’re thinking, “Why did I buy so much ground beef?” So, what to do with all that beef before you must resort to the freezer? You could make a bunch of hamburgers or a meatloaf. But, if you bought that much ground beef, I’d bet you already used one of those recipes. Around the Flint household, when we’ve got a…

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  • Josh Flint

    Has the Sun Set on High Corn Prices?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 4, 2013

    This week, I interviewed several market analysts on corn price projections. Not one of them was optimistic about the potential for a rally. Pondering these price downturns, experts agree on several things. First off, this was expected. Once the 2012 drought had firmly established itself, market analysts started warning about the short crop, long tail scenario. Next, the ethanol industry is mature. In past years, ethanol producers had not yet hit the blend wall, i.e. the amount needed…

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  • Josh Flint

    An Ode to Old Cars

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on September 26, 2013

    There are two types of older cars. You’ve got your “seasoned” car that keeps running despite a few extra squeaks and rattles. Then, you have your bucket of bolts that necessitates you keep a tool handy for a quick daily tweak. Unfortunately, my 2006 Nissan Sentra, with 144,000 miles, slid into the second category last week. It’s not quite as bad as some I’ve seen, i.e. I’m not driving around with a pair of vise grips in lieu of a steering…

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  • Josh Flint

    The Hottest Thing in Ag Tech Right Now

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on September 23, 2013

    They're popping up at farm shows and field days across the Corn Belt. Farmers have been seen gathering around product demonstrations murming excitedly. Occasionally, I'll run into someone who will say, "Hey, did you see it? Man, that thing was really cool." Shoot, even the Today Show had a segment on them a few weeks back. Drones have certainly captured the imagination of farmers and techies alike. Is it the idea flying something without actually being in danger of…

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  • Josh Flint

    Are Biopesticides the Future of Crop Protection?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on September 10, 2013

    If I were a betting man (and, I’m not, by the way), I’d wager ag biologicals will explode in the crop protection market in the coming years. What are ag biologicals, or biopesticides? Well, many of you are probably already using them. The VOTiVO portion of Bayer’s Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment is a biopesticide. More specifically, VOTiVO is a beneficial bacteria that acts as a nematicide. In a broader sense, Bayer’s Dennis Warkentin explains biopesticides…

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  • Josh Flint

    E85 Is Too Expensive (in the Metro-East)

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on August 23, 2013

    I’ve driven nearly 1,500 miles in the past two weeks. To make two winding trips around the state of Illinois, I rented a Ford Focus. Since my personal car is a Nissan, I was excited about taking full advantage of the Flex Fuel component that comes with Ford automobiles. Only one of the fuel stations along my travels offered E85. It was a station just a couple miles from my house. Since I was filling the car up before I returned it, I didn’t get a chance to see what sort…

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  • Josh Flint

    Fresh Local Food? Not So Much

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on August 16, 2013

    Yesterday, my wife reminded me that a “farmer” would be coming by to deliver us a box of fresh, local produce. A “What?” “Remember, I told you…” type of conversation ensued. If you’re married, you probably have these daily. Anyhow, she reminded me that she joined some coworkers and purchased a food allotment from a local farmer’s market. It was a one-time thing – not a community supported agriculture deal. To say the…

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  • Josh Flint

    An Easy Sweet Corn Casserole Recipe the Family Will Love

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on August 5, 2013

    Sweet corn is one of the best parts of summer. When we lived in Decatur, sweet corn was abundant and delicious. Now that we’re in St. Clair County, it’s a bit harder to come by fresh-picked ears. So, when Erie farmer Paul Young offered me several ears last week, I graciously accepted. He really loaded me up. Typically, we soak the ears in water for about an hour, and then toss them on the grill. Once the husks are black, we peel them back and add butter and salt. It’s…

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  • Josh Flint

    Time to Take Tech Stewardship Seriously

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 29, 2013

    Last week, I saw Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean crop technology in action at a field day in Collinsville. As a refresher, these are the soybeans with glyphosate and dicamba tolerance built in. And, yes, the release has been delayed by USDA ordering an Environmental Impact Statement. According to Monsanto reps, 2015 is looking to be the earliest this crop technology will hit the mainstream. A couple days later, I was in Brownstown at a University of Illinois field day…

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  • Josh Flint

    What's the Payback on Precision Ag Technology?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 16, 2013

    Certain technologies catch on because they make life a whole lot easier. Terry Griffin, with Cresco Ag, points out that auto-steer and GPS guidance fell into that category when they were first introduced. When you’ve gone through a spring like this one, it’s nice to have a few minutes to yourself between the end rows. But, does all this precision ag stuff actually pay the bills? According to Kenton, Ohio farmer Brian Watkins, yeah it does. Watkins (and Griffin) spoke…

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  • Josh Flint

    Newsflash: We'll Need GMOs To Feed the World

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on July 10, 2013

    During the Cultivating Master Farmers’ commencement ceremony, Bob Thompson, University of Illinois professor emeritus, saddled a group of Illinois’ brightest farmers with some sobering information. By 2050, he wagers the world population will top 9.6 billion people. That’s a 36% increase. Thompson notes sub-Saharan Africa will add 1.2 billion people in that time – a 132% increase. Whoa! As he filtered through stats on population growth, land allocation and…

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  • Josh Flint

    Not All Food Miles Are Created Equal

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 26, 2013

    The farmers’ market season is upon us. If you buy local because it’s fresher and you enjoy the idea of supporting local farmers – good for you. If you do it because it’s better for the environment, keep reading. Numerous studies have been conducted on food miles. However, as Tyler Cowen pointed out in his book An Economist Gets Lunch, not all food miles are created equal. If we’re talking asparagus, local sources will probably win out in the food…

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  • Josh Flint

    5 Apps To Help You Make It Through the Summer

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 14, 2013

    It's summer. Between planting, scouting and spraying, you probably have oodles of little league games, a week or two of summer vacation and perhaps a few dance recital weekends. Are you effectively using your smartphone to manage your busy schedule? If you're anything like my family, I'd say no. Here's a list of apps I can't do without. Also, I've included some tips on how to get the most out of them. CalenMob: Back when I used an Android phone, I started…

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  • Josh Flint

    Let's Get Real About GMO Labeling

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 4, 2013

    A Rebuttal to the Monsanto Protestors garnered a lot of attention. The GMO haters turned out en masse to tell me why I was an idiot (and a few other things I can't print here) on this topic. One thing came through crystal clear – nearly all of them want GMO labels for our food supply. Another thing was clear – very few of them understand how food makes its way from the farm to the fork. I’ll start by addressing the farm to fork information gap that…

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  • Josh Flint

    A Rebuttal To the Monsanto Protestors

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 28, 2013

    Last weekend, GMO haters decided to protest Monsanto. On Twitter, Monsanto sent out a Tweet that included my blog on the “research” that says glyphosate is to blame for every disease/health condition known to man. Since the headline was “Let’s Blame Monsanto’s Glyphosate for Everything! (or not),” I got a few hate Tweets. Apparently anti-GMO protestors in the midst of blaming Monsanto for everything didn’t appreciate the irony of such a blog…

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  • Josh Flint

    Organic Marketing Is Getting Ridiculous

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 21, 2013

    In the rush to cash in on the “organic” buzz, seemingly everything is organic these days. Even stuff that’s always been organic now has “organic” emblazoned across its packaging. Last weekend, I spotted a pallet of organic soil at Home Depot. What?!! I assume the little white fertilizer balls are the only inorganic ingredients added to typical potting soil. Organic Marketing 101: don’t put the fertilizer balls in, slap organic on the bag, and mark…

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  • Josh Flint

    Risk of Forcing an Environmental Impact Study on Monsanto and Dow

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 16, 2013

    A year ago, I was at a crop technology media event. Honestly, I can’t remember if it was a Dow AgroSciences or Monsanto event. I Tweeted about the expected release of either 2,4-D- or dicamba-tolerant soybeans. The first response was from a central Illinois farmer. He said, “Tell them to hurry up. We need this technology now!” Last week the USDA ordered an Environmental Impact Study be conducted on both of these technologies. My colleague Mindy Ward, Missouri…

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  • Josh Flint

    Planting Corn in June Is a Real Possibility

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 9, 2013

    With more rain on the way and not a planter to be seen in my neck of the woods, yesterday, I thought “Geez, is anyone planting?”  I took to Twitter and posed that question to Illinois farmers. Judging from the response, it appears I wasn’t the only one wondering. In short, they’re going like gangbusters north of I-80. A lot of them will have logged nearly an entire week of corn planting depending on whether they stayed dry with this latest line of…

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  • Josh Flint

    Let's Blame Monsanto's Glyphosate For Everything! (or not)

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 2, 2013

    Used to be, you needed a printing press and barrels of ink if you wanted to be heard in this world. Today, you just need an internet connection.  Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to this Reuters’ article that essentially says glyphosate is to blame for every health issue known to man. I surfed around and found the original paper, which was published in a physics journal called Entropy. Say what you will about journalists, but most of us are naturally skeptical. Maybe I…

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  • Josh Flint

    Since You're Not Planting...

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 25, 2013

    Yes, it will be mid-May before most of you are planting corn. Deep breaths. So, what to do in the meantime? Well, you could catch up on routine medical maintenance. Why is it farmers are so good at maintaining equipment, but only go to the doctor if an appendage has literally become detached from the body? I pondered this with a farm wife yesterday. After multiple doctor visits, her fears were confirmed – her husband had skin cancer. Luckily, her persistence meant they were…

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