Road trips offer insight

There are those in my company who believe I travel a bit too much (not to mention my wife) but leaving the office is how I learn things. Sure I could get on the phone and start dialing, but there's nothing like seeing things 'for real.'

Last week I was in central Iowa visiting an operation for a story I'll be running in a couple months (no need to give it away yet), and I was intrigued by the energy I found in the combine cab. The operator is a fourth-generation farmer who is bringing new thinking to his family operation, including some new tech tools.

When the next generation joins an operation there are so many factors to consider, but one is how "Dad" will deal with the new tech that the "next generation" wants to bring to the business. In this case, the farmer's father has other interests he manages, while the son takes on the farm. That's one way to do it, just focus on what you do best and let the "new guy" bring in the new tech.

Some of that new tech is going to be cloud-based data management. That means you'll be beefing up your web access either with cellular help, or through other means. And with data plans getting more competitive, that means you'll want to look at what's possible on the market (or let the next generation research it).

What I enjoyed was the enthusiasm. Even with corn and soybean prices where they are, this farmer was looking at new approaches, including strip till and maximizing his yield information for quick development of prescriptions. He is also building his own prescriptions from his data too.

It's that energy agriculture will need to move into the future, and it's out there in abundance. Just nice to see it in person when I can. I'll share more about this farmer and his program soon, so stay tuned. And to all of you next-generation farmers out there, thanks for coming home to shoulder the load. Have a safe harvest!

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