Gilfillan Estate - The future of agriculture and even the future of Farmfest itself were on display last week at the annual agricultural show at Gilfillan Estates near Redwood Falls.
Companies offering technology showed their wares and services at Farmfest. Digital tablets can monitor farms, and GPS technology can create maximum precision in crop planting and care. The new technology focus of agriculture is providing some very innovative options.
Hodgman Drainage Company Inc., of Claremont, offered one of the more basic and ground-level areas in which new technologies are being integrated into farming. GPS and digital survey equipment assists Hodgman's custom trench digging equipment in making precise drainage placements. It also aids in creating the perfect downward grade in the piping to optimize gravity to drain the water in the ground.
Farmfest, the event itself, had it future management on display last week. The event was bought recently by the American Farm Bureau Federation during its purchase of IDEAg Group.
iCrop Trak, of Tuscan, Ariz., demonstrated high tech software that allows farmers to effortlessly track all forms of data related to their fields. A simple interface uses GPS data codes, and the data can be plugged into mobile devices like an iPad. It allows each segment of the farmer's fields to be tracked for all forms of input data. The software also allows the data on each segment to be tracked over years, allowing trends to be monitored.
"[Farming] is just data management when you get down to it. It's about monitoring all the different elements," said Aaron Hutchinson, president of iCrop Trak.
Brokaw Supply Company, which will be opening a site in Redwood Falls next month, showed how high tech implements and digital information controls for all forms of farming equipment have become popular. One element emphasized was a high degree of precision in everything from vehicles to sprayers. In one example, GPS data can be used to automatically shut off select sprayers when they cross over previously covered crop rows.
"Even three years ago, a lot of this [technology] was considered luxury items. Now, they are expected by farmers because they see the value. They want equipment that will give them the best control, and they have seen now that it can earn the money back in few years with the money saved," said Joe Dolby, Precision Ag Specialist with Brokaw.
Farmfest displays and vendors provided evidence that long-held farming techniques and traditions are merging with increasingly computerized technology to create farming abilities unheard of just a few decades ago.
Beyond the future advancements in farming on display, the future of the Farmfest event itself was a subject of interest at the show.
Farmfest was sold to the American Farm Bureau Federation as part of the purchase of the IDEAg Group. The purchase also includes similar events in other states and several agriculture publications.
Farmfest organizers said the show will largely be unchanged because the Farm Bureau approves of how they have successfully run the show. Also, the current organizing team will remain intact. Organizers said Farm Bureau's connections may allow them to bring in bigger scale panels and host large activities with the show.
Farmfest has been held since 1972. Its first show at Gilfillan Estates took place in 1994.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)