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Views and opinions: Valuable data free for the listening at farm field days

I have attended hundreds of conferences and seminars in my years with MidCountry Media, but they were all on the antiques side of our publications. On Sept. 6, I attended my first farm field day.

My inbox is filled with field day notices from various states, but I just hadn’t been able to make it to one until this month. I attended the Crops Field Day at ACRE at Purdue University, where the topic was “Drones & Technology in Agriculture.”

(Look for my article on drones and how they can be used in farming in next week’s Farm World.)

Since this was my first visit to a field day, I have no idea how it compares to others. But I was incredibly impressed at the information in this field day, and that this information is free for those who attend. Not to mention, lunch was fantastic – and it was also free.

This was also the first conference I have attended in my life where I did not have to wait in line for the restroom. Of the more than 100 people who attended, the vast majority were men, making the age-old problem of the line to the women’s restroom nonexistent.

While most of the day was spent visiting different sections of a field and seeing what a drone could do for farmers, there was also information from several specialists after lunch. What impressed me the most about this part of the day was how passionate some of these people could make the discussion of bugs and disease.

Both John Obermeyer, extension integrated pest management specialist, and Darcy Telenko, extension plant pathology specialist, were obviously passionate about their subjects. During Telenko’s talk I learned about corn tar spot, which you can read more about elsewhere in this section; I might not have paid as much attention to her presentation had she not been so enthusiastic. Obermeyer discussed Japanese beetles and rootworms.

Shaun Casteel, extension soybean specialist, said the first cutting of soybeans had already happened the day before the conference. He said the bean harvest was ahead of schedule despite a late planting season. “We are ready to roll for soybeans in Indiana,” he said.

He added that farmers could be looking at a yield of 58 bushels per acre.

Bob Nielsen, extension corn specialist, said the crop is seven days ahead of schedule, again despite a late start to planting. He threw out a figure of 186 bushels per acre for corn in the state.

Seventeen extension agents got grants to purchase drones and study their practical uses for farming in their respective counties. Three of those agents were present at the seminar, including Bryan Overstreet from Jasper County.

(In the “it’s a small world” category, Bryan and I are both graduates of Turkey Run High School, although he was in my younger brother’s class. It was great to catch up with Bryan at lunch and learn how he is using drones to help the farmers of Jasper County.)

While I will talk more about drones next week, I will say that I am confident if Grandpa Swaim were still alive, he would be in line to get one. One of the big uses discussed was identifying and monitoring tile lines in fields. Several photos of how the drones could identify tile lines were shown.

Nothing got Grandpa Swaim more excited than walking his tile lines and seeing to their health. With a drone, he could sit at the edge of a field and fly over his fields rather than spend all day walking them.

If somehow you haven’t gotten to attend a field day, be sure you take advantage of any in your area. Even if you only take away one or two small pieces of information, it will be well worth it.

This makes me even more excited for my first trip to the Farm Science Review Sept. 18-20 in London, Ohio. For more information on that event, see the supplement tucked into this week’s issue.