Dairy Strong focuses on industry’s future

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Dairy farmers and industry professionals can personalize their experience by following one of three educational tracks at Dairy Strong 2018, which will be held Jan. 17-18 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison, Wis.

The tracks feature informational sessions focused on three themes: legislation and advocacy; consumer trends; and dairy technology. If participants have multiple interests, they can choose to attend sessions from the different tracks.

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Gallagher: Save the Bay initiative keeps moving forward

By Mike Gallagher

I’m proud to be from Northeast Wisconsin. Here, we treat everyone we meet with kindness and respect. We stand by our veterans and help those in need. And we work hard every day to, in our own small way, hold the line and leave our little part of the world better than we found it.

Our character is shaped not only by our traditions of kindness and decency, but also by our land. From our rivers and streams, to our forests and rich farmland, the natural abundance of Northeast Wisconsin shapes and defines who we are as a people. Perhaps most significantly, we are home to the largest freshwater system in the world: the Great Lakes. These waters are tied directly to 1.4 million jobs, including the tourism industry that sustains many of our coastal communities. The lakes give drinking water to 40 million people each day and provide water for our crops that feed people around the world.

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Farmers use drones to better manage their operations

Jeff VanderWerff uses a drone for multiple purposes on his farm in Sparta, Mich.

By Leah Call

Drone technology is becoming an integral part of precision agriculture practices throughout the Midwest. This aerial eye in the sky enables farmers to increase efficiencies and boost productivity. With drones, farmers can monitor crops and livestock and manage inputs through surveying and mapping with spectrum, thermal and near infrared imagery.

“Drones are an interesting piece of technology to utilize,” said Jeff VanderWerff, who farms 200 acres of apples and 2,000 acres of crops with his father, uncle and brother in Sparta, Mich. “We use them primarily for scouting purposes and for management purposes in our orchard.

“When you get a group of workers out into an apple orchard, it is hard to keep track of where all the workers are, where all the bins are,” VanderWerff continued. “The drone allows me to find my workers and find my fruit bins quickly and efficiently versus spending half an hour on the Gator driving through an orchard. I can just fly over and get an aerial view of what is going on.” Continue reading “Farmers use drones to better manage their operations”

McTigue: Have a plan in place before meetings

By Tim McTigue

With the continued stress in the agricultural economy, farm management meetings are more important than ever. It is essential that all parties involved with the farm operation are focusing on the same objectives to efficiently run the farm and manage costs.

For anyone who’s been in a meeting, you know that some are more productive than others. At some point in time, who hasn’t walked out of a room with unanswered questions, such as, “What was accomplished for the past hour?” or “What happens next?” Oftentimes, meetings have good discussions, but lack clear direction or calls to action. Here are some basic tips to running a productive meeting: Continue reading “McTigue: Have a plan in place before meetings”

Apps help farmers keep an eye on the weather

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

There is no doubt weather plays a vital role in a farm’s success. Thanks to technology, farmers now have access to essential weather information in the palm of their hand, providing them with information about what to expect in the coming hours and hard data about the previous 24 hours, as well as historical data.

The Internet is crowded with weather apps, but farmers need an app specifically designed for their needs and includes specific information, such as precipitation totals and precise information about wind speed and direction. Developers have rolled out multiple applications to meet farmers’ needs.

The DTN Ag Weather Tools app, which is only available in iTunes, debuted five years ago and relies on information from weather stations across the country. The app – one of the first designed exclusively for the ag industry –  features GPS-based roaming alerts, forecasts and touch screen interactive displays.

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