Syngenta Survey Confirms Ag Loves Digital Tech

Syngenta_BiotechA majority of growers and other agricultural professionals turn to online sources first for general information about their industry, and over half of them use mobile or handheld devices 10 or more times per workday. These are some of the key findings in a recent Syngenta survey, in which more than 300 readers of Thrive, the company’s production-focused magazine and website, responded to questions about their online habits and appetites.

Anthony Transou, Internet marketing manager at Syngenta, is not surprised that, like other industries, U.S. agriculture is embracing digital communications—from social media campaigns and blogs to precision farming and recordkeeping.

“Digital platforms give users a way to share and learn from others in the agricultural industry, whether they are around the corner in their communities or across the globe,” he said. “One of our key concentrations is to create optimized content that can spread across channels and be consumed anywhere, so there is a seamless experience from desktop to mobile users.”

Transou’s team has made several recent adjustments and additions to the Syngenta digital platform. For example, new websites like Tools to Grow More Soybeans and the Quilt Xcel®Fungicide Stress Management Training Module help growers locate information about specific issues or products more easily. Another recent online development is the Know More, Grow More agronomy blog, which features tips and local news updates from Syngenta agronomic service representatives. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels are also convenient ways for growers to interact with Syngenta via questions, comments, contests and general discussions. Continue reading

Google Glass Intern

IMG_0633 This past week at the NAMA convention, I was lucky enough to try the infamous Google Glass. Needless to say, I fell in love with it. I am sure for the first ten minutes I looked like an idiot trying to figure it out, but I got the hang of it. While I was wearing them, all I could think about was how this could help all of agriculture. An farmer has a problem in the field? Ask Glass to call your agronomist, or Google what a certain weed is.

Now Glass is “on sale” for more people to test out and see how it works. For $1,500 you can walk around and give feedback on how you enjoy them and where they need to improve. One of the main goals that Google has is to make them available to the public between the $500-700 range. Needless to say, once I am not a broke college student anymore, I will be purchasing a pair. And for the record, this is the only “selfie” I took during the NAMA conference!

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

Typo Keyboard for iPhone 5/S – AgNerds Rejoice

Typo Keyboard for iPhone 5My agnerd order has been placed for a Typo Keyboard for my iPhone 5S. I am eagerly waiting for it. Why? Because I like typing on real keys. I’ve become “better” at typing on the virtual keyboard but . . .

Typo has apparently pissed off Blackberry though. For some reason they think they “own” the physical keyboard. Last week a judge ordered a preliminary injunction to restrict sales of Typo keyboards but they are still for sale ($99).

I’ll write a review of the device after I have a chance to use.

Here is what the claims are:

Type Faster w/Less Typos – Users report typing 50% faster and with less Typos – Touch keyboard brings back 40% more screen space for typing

Full Backlit Keyboard – Backlit Keyboard for typing in low light environments

Battery Indicator – See how much battery you have at any time

Quick Currency Keys Access – Quick access to all your most necessary currency keys

TYPO smart Typing – Custom TYPO Smart Auto-Correct Enabled

You can order one here.

Alltech Asks “What If”

What If AlltechKnowledge and planning provide a sense of relief, particularly in business. Business and Technology, one of the six major sessions during “What If,” the 30th Annual Alltech International Symposium will help attendees stay worry-free by asking, “What if there are faster ways to predict the future?” The session will offer businesses strategies to maximize efficiency by embracing technological innovations and marketplace opportunities. It will take place in downtown Lexington, Ky., USA from May 18-21.

Evoking curiosity with its theme, “What If,” the Symposium will focus on the areas of Crop Science, Life Sciences, Africa, Modern Farming, The Algae Opportunity, and Business and Technology – all primary topics of focus which will feature notable, expert speakers from around the world.

During the Business and Technology session, Dr. Damien McLoughlin, professor at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, will address the question of, “What happens next?” and share his knowledge on strategic succession planning to ensure the life of a business.

“The greatest investment in business is always in management,” McLoughlin said. “The opportunities in global agribusiness are so great today, that no firm, family-owned or otherwise can ignore the challenge of finding, developing and empowering the next generation of managers and leaders. At the Alltech International Symposium, we will discuss this issue and identify practical points that you can use to improve your business.”

Dr. Aoife Lyons, licensed clinical psychologist and director of Alltech’s Career Development Program, will also speak, explaining the benefits of psychometric testing in hiring excellent talent, debunking fears and myths about psychometric testing, and outlining the economic benefit to companies. Eighty-five percent of companies in the Forbes 500 use psychometric testing as part of the hiring process. Making sure people have the right skills but equally, matching a potential employee’s personality with the corporate culture of their team is imperative.

The Business and Technology session will address other questions as well, including:
– What if there were simpler, alternative ways to achieve the same objectives in business?
– What if micro-loans were available for new businesses?
– Where do you look for funds?
– What if it is not about big data, but about the right data?
– What if your business is not completely connected?

Registration for Alltech’s 30th Annual International Symposium is open now and available for an early discount price of $599 until April 10. Standard registration after April 10 will be $850. Two paid registrations from a single company or organization will receive a third registration free of charge. Delegates who are members of ARPAS and AAVSB can also earn CEUs.

Breaking ZimmGlass News

New ZimmGlass FramesI just got my new ZimmGlass frames with my prescription lenses installed! That’s news! These give me my full trifocal prescription, allow me to read the Glass screen and are transitions to boot. No need to worry about being out in the sun and wondering what to do. The old frames I had did have clip in sunglass lenses though.

This frame is very comfortable and I can see wearing these for extended periods of time when needed. I’ve already worn them inside and out and they transition very quickly. They also don’t have quite as much agnerdiness to them.

You can bet I’ll have these on during some upcoming shows and field days. Probably also on a beach bike ride, fishing trip, hunting trip, etc.

BTW. You’ve no doubt heard about some places not allowing Google Glass but have you heard about places trying to attract Glass wearers? It’s true. This hotel has their own pairs of Glass and are offering guests Glass Packages! I don’t think I’ve seen more pre-release publicity for a product since the iPhone was introduced.

Do you think these will be game changers in the mobile communications sector? Would you wear them?

Look for another exciting announcement about ZimmGlass coming up soon.

FarmLink Offers TrueHarvest Benchmarking Tool

farmlinkA new benchmarking tool has been developed by FarmLink that can help farmers get the fullest potential from their operations.

“We’re helping a farmer identify where he should go find yield in a cost effective manner and other areas where he’s doing great,” says company president Scott Robinson about the tool they call TrueHarvest, which uses objective data to show a farm’s full range of performance potential, drilled down to a 150-square-foot area called a micro-field.

“The reason they’re 150 square feet is because our combine collection is done on a fleet of about 200 combines, the combine cutting head is about 30 feet wide, travels about 3.5 miles an hour and we collect data every second,” he said. “That data is used to correlate across the other 67 billion micro fields that we’ve developed across the United States that represents all corn, wheat and soybeans.”

true-harvestAccording to TrueHarvest calculations, American farmers could have produced approximately 1.6 billion more bushels of corn and 250 million more bushels of soybeans in 2013, realizing approximately $11 billion in additional revenue. “If farmers increased their performance up to the 75th percentile on average for corn and soybeans, that’s how much money is on the table,” said Robinson.

FarmLink was at the recent Commodity Classic talking about TrueHarvest and getting good reception from farmers according to Robinson, who said they really appreciated that the service was independent and did not require them to provide the company with private data. “It’s really agronomic benchmarking that we’re doing, but it’s for the individual farmer,” he said.

Find out more in this interview with Robinson and in the video below from the website. Interview with Scott Robinson, FarmLink

Ag Leader AgFiniti Now Available

classic14-agleader-agfinitiAg Leader Technology’s new cloud-based platform AgFiniti® was a hit at last week’s Commodity Classic where growers were happy to learn that it is now available for them.

“AgFiniti is an affordable and reliable solution for wireless connectivity in the field because it allows users the flexibility to choose the best wireless service carrier in their local area and hotspot device,” said Luke James, Software Sales Manager. He adds that what really makes AgFiniti stand out from other solutions on the market is data privacy. “We know growers value their privacy and that’s why with AgFiniti the data is 100% theirs,” he said. “We’re independent, just like the grower’s independent. We value that.”

Learn more in this interview with Luke from Commodity Classic: Interview with Luke James, Ag Leader

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Ag Interest in UAVs Really Taking Off

nfms14-uavUnmanned Aerial Vehicles – call them UAVs or drones or just remote-controlled airplanes – have been around for decades, but using them for agricultural practices is just really starting to take off.

A good crowd showed up for a session on UAVs sponsored by Farm Industry magazine at the recent National Farm Machinery Show where University of Kentucky (UK) mechanical engineer Dr. Suzanne Smith was one of the presenters. The UK recently announced the formation of an Unmanned Systems Research Consortium (USRC) to advance unmanned aerial, ground and underwater systems, and to explore commercial applications for the technology in Kentucky.

nfms14-uav-uk“It’s faculty members from across the university,” says Smith. “From ag, ag engineering, forestry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science – all working together to advance technologies – and we’re working with companies.”

She and other panelists entertained lots of questions from the audience at the NFMS which indicated a great deal of interest from farmers in using more advanced UAV technology. “It’s very exciting right now,” she said. “In the end it’s really time-saving and efficiency, and that’s what everybody is really looking for.”

Find out more in this interview: Interview with Suzanne Smith, University of Kentucky

2014 National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by FMC and New Holland Agriculture

Climate Corporation Offers Climate Information

Have you ever wanted to be able to see what is happening every day weather-wise on each of your fields? The Climate Corporation was at the National Farm Machinery Show telling farmers about a free tool they have to offer that can do just that. You may recall that Monsanto acquired The Climate Corporation in October and NFMS is one of the first shows since that time where they have been out talking to farmers about their products.

Jeff HamlinThe Climate Corporation monitors 30 million fields in the US Corn Belt. According to Jeff Hamlin growers can sign up for free Climate Basic at With this account farmers can locate each of their fields and then will be able to see what growth stage the plants are at, how much rain the field has received, and soil moisture in each of the locations entered. The information can be seen from your computer, phone or tablet.

Farmers can also invest in Climate Pro which is a more advanced system which includes satellite imagery of your crops, nitrogen recommendations, and planting recommendations. These programs can be incorporated with precision planting software or just included in your Climate Basic account.

Listen to my interview with Jeff here: Interview with Jeff Hamlin, The Climate Corporation

National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by FMC and New Holland Agriculture


Glass Atlanta

Glass StampGlass Atlanta. That’s where I was this weekend following the MapShots Customer Conference. This event was really for the public to get their first look at Glass, wear it and learn about it.

In the venue there were demo stations set up to cover different applications and uses for Glass. I brought ZimmGlass with me because I had questions.

Glass DemoThis is the first station where you get to try on Glass and learn about the basic functions and operations. We had two technicians there to work with us. This photo was taken with ZimmGlass.

From there we could demo a translation application which would be very helpful traveling abroad. Other stations set up included one for music using Google Play, one to get your photo taken wearing Glass and more.

I shot a video with ZimmGlass and wandered around the various stations so you can see what the event was like. These are great opportunities and I’m glad to see Google providing the opportunity. I’m more confident in using my Glass and will continue using it on the agriblogging highway.

Drones to Increase Profitability

afbf-14-4Kansas State University’s Dr. Kevin Price was one of the presenters at the 2014 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. His presentation was titled Drones: Turning Technological Controversy into Profit.

The use of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to fly over crops and livestock to maximize profits is one of the hottest topics entering the agriculture sector. He shared how this is all possible using examples of his work at the university.

“About 80% of the money that will be spent on the unmanned aircraft systems will be spent in the area of agriculture. There are ten times more applications in agriculture then there is in any of the other application areas.” He continued by saying, “They are predicting this will be a $100 billion industry by the year 2025.”

He said agriculture applications for drones in development include data collection on crop health, vigor and yields, tracking the spread of invasive plant species and monitoring cattle feedlots. Data collection of field images by cameras mounted on drones within an inch of accuracy.

When asked where he saw drone use in agriculture going in the next five years he said it was hard to say because interest was growing so rapidly, but “it will blow your socks off.” The economic potential of drones is tremendous in terms of precision agriculture but will not be realized without approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wondering what it could cost you? Dr. Price said a fixed-winged aircraft could run a couple thousand dollars to $12,000. Other models might be under a thousand up to $7,000-$8,000. Will you start saving to increase profits in the long run?

Listen to the complete audio from ag media’s interview with Dr. Price here: Kevin Price Press Conference

2014 AFBF Convention Photos

iPhone 5S vs. Galaxy S4 Mini

S4 Mini vs. iPhone 5SHow many of you received a new smart phone for Christmas? Just raise your hand. Hmm. Quite a few I see. How do you like it? What don’t you like? Feel free to chime in with your comments. I’ve played around with a lot of devices and have settled on two that I really like and thought I’d share some comments about them.

The photo is my Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (left) and Apple iPhone 5S, both running the AgWired App I hope you have on your phone. I’m Verizon on the S4 Mini and AT&T on the iPhone. I’ve got hotspot plans for both in the hopes that I will almost always be able to connect to the internet via my computer or tablet (iPad Air). I also wanted to have the opportunity to learn both mobile platforms. The Mini is running Android 4.2.2 known as Jelly Bean and the iPhone is running iOS 7.0.4.

Regular AgWired readers know that I’ve been carrying a Samsung Galaxy Note II. That is for sale now. Why? Because a phablet doesn’t fit my one-handed phone lifestyle. I want to be able to text with one hand and the Note is just too big. I definitely didn’t need or use the stylus. When I first got it I thought I’d like the extra screen space but quickly found out that wasn’t the case.

Of the two phones that are the subject of this post, the iPhone is my favorite. Two of the biggest reasons are that the iPhone camera takes better photos and the apps are more intuitive and user friendly. That’s my experience and both are important to me. I take a lot of phone photos, many of which appear on AgWired and my social media accounts. Another reason is that the 5S processor (A7) is fast, way faster than my iPhone 5 which Cindy is now carrying. Everything runs faster. When I turn it on it connects to the network faster, apps like Mail run faster. And faster is better in today’s world.

I think that outside of these reasons I would be happy with either device. At this point the Google Play store has a version of almost all the iTunes Store apps I use the most. I’ve been able to set both devices up to be nearly identical from this standpoint. This allows me to use an app I’m familiar with on both for times when I only have one or the other on me or am only in an area with service for one or the other.
Continue reading

The ZimmGlass Project

Google Glass at ZimmCommLike a story out of the future, except that it is now, comes The ZimmGlass Project. At least that’s what I’m calling it for now. What is it? We’re going to find out together over a period of time in which I experiment with Google Glass! Glass is basically a computer you wear on your face but that’s just just the short description. With its functionalities it is much more and that’s what I’ll be experimenting with.

I am one of the newest members of the Glass Explorers Program. Like Bruce Rasa, I want to find ways that this gamer changer technology can be incorporated into agricultural applications that will improve efficiencies and help farmer and company bottom lines. I’m looking for companies that may want to work on a test project that would include using Glass as part of an existing application or to develop a new one. You can be sure I’ll find a way to incorporate the device into online agricultural and social media.

This will serve as the first in a series of posts on my use of Glass and I welcome feedback and ideas you may have.

If you’d like to see the unboxing photos you can find them here: ZimmGlass Project – The Unboxing Photos

Raven’s Commitment to Innovative Tech

nafb-13-24-editedRaven Industries is always working on something. During the recent NAFB Convention’s Trade Talk, I met up with Raven’s Marketing and Business Development Manager, Ryan Molitor. He expressed Raven’s desire to continue to add new technologies to the precision marketplace as well as improve on their existing products.

“One of the things we really invest a lot in is training our dealers on not just supporting and servicing our equipment but helping them better educate growers on the benefits of precision ag technology. It’s pretty diverse from a technology standpoint. There is a lot of different technology out there. Growers and producers have a lot of diverse needs also. It is important to talk to them and understand their individual operations and where the technology can fit for them.”

Raven introduced many different technologies earlier this year. Ryan said the feedback they have received from their beta testers has been great. In my interview he discusses their direct injection technology, data management for ag retailers and producers and their multiple hybrid planter control. Their newest precision equipment to hit the marketplace is their yield monitoring system and Ryan shares what growers have said about it’s acute accuracy.

Listen to my complete interview with Ryan here: Interview with Ryan Molitor

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

John Deere Opens MyJohnDeere Platform

nafb13-jd-batdrofAt today’s NAFB Trade Talk, John Deere’s had a big announcement about their MyJohnDeere platform collaborating software developers and companies. Cindy spoke with Product Marketing Manager for John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, Chris Batdorf, during the fast-paced event.

“Last summer we introduced a product called Wireless Data Transfer and that helped to do away with the USB stick and seamlessly transfer production data on and off the machine to MyJohnDeere platform. What this new announcement means is now we are working with the software companies out there. Then with their customers permission, tap in to this information and serve it up on their applications.”

Customers are able to view and manage this information from smart phones, tablets, and computers when and where they need it. Chris went on to share how this new technology will increase efficiency and make the job of the farmer easier overall.

“Their able to use applications that make sense to them, but we are doing a lot of things through the MyJohnDeere platform that customers are going to see in the coming year around showing the information actually on that platform. Making it a one-stop shop, helping them to not only see their John Deere equipment but other equipment as well.”

Earlier this year we had a preview of this announcement when Chuck attended John Deere API Integrator Conference. Here a link to that post.

For companies or developers interested in connecting their applications to MyJohnDeere platform visit More information on MyJohnDeere, Wireless Data Transfer, and JDLink, check out or contact your local John Deere dealer.

Listen to Cindy’s complete interview with Chris here: Interview with Chris Batdorf

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Hand-Held Grain Moisture Tester

GT 30300 Box_Case_UnitTo help producers more accurately monitor the condition of their grain during harvest and in storage, John Deere introduces the GT-30300 Grain Moisture Tester. This new hand-held device provides direct readout of moisture and test weight for 20 different grains in seconds, without pre-weighing the samples, at the touch of a button.

According to Barry Deiters, product manager with John Deere Merchandise, the new GT-30300 Grain Moisture Tester is the most accurate and advanced hand-held tester available. “The tester measures the moisture of harvested or stored grain from 5 percent to 45 percent with repeatable accuracy to plus or minus 0.2 percent and test weights with repeatable accuracy of 0.5 lb. per bushel, without having to pre-weigh the samples.”

The tester also measures the temperature of stored grains from 40 to 120 degrees F with repeatable accuracy to within 1.0 degree. Other features include a backlit LCD display for easy viewing of data, automatic temperature compensation and USB port and cord to make software updates and downloading data easy and convenient. Each unit comes with an attached swiper for grain leveling and heavy-duty carrying case.

iCropTrak Updates Improve Soil Sampling

icropCogent3D, makers of iCropTrak, have taken soil sampling to a whole new level for farmers this fall.

Aaron Hutchinson, Cogent3D president and co-founder, says they took the best practices from their dedicated soil sampling apps and feedback from soil sampling customers to upgrade iCropTrak Soil Sampling capabilities. “iCropTrak is the third generation of our farming technologies that we’ve built,” he said.

With the recent App store updates, Aaron says soil sampling has been refined to make it significantly faster to operate and easier to create and collect grid and zone sampling. “So that somebody who might be a seasonal worker or a full-fledged professional can get the most from our tools,” he said.

Aaron tells me that they are working on another release for Spring will increase the performance of the technology by a factor of ten. “So we’re ready for the new data connections that everybody’s been hearing about, as well as being able to deal with some of the very large amounts of data that people are starting to collect on their farms,” he added.

iCropTrak is sold in over 50 countries and Aaron says they recently spent a month in Africa, where six of the ten fastest growing countries in the world are located, and next week they will be at Agritechnica in Germany.

Listen to my interview with Aaron to learn more: Aaron Hutchinson, iCropTrak

iCropTrak is an iPad/iPhone mobile app and personal cloud combination that lets you customize the features of the application including its sampling and scouting forms. iCropTrak mobile app can be found in the Apple iTunes store and the custom cloud can be purchased directly from iCropTrak sales team. You can also check them out on Facebook or through their ad on the AgWired mobile app.

John Deere Supports Global Harvest Initiative

wfp13-jd-coryOne of the many agricultural companies represented at the World Food Prize symposium last week in Des Moines was John Deere, which is a member of the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) along with companies such as Elanco, DuPont Pioneer, and Monsanto.

I spoke with Cory Reed, Senior VP of John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group, about the release of GHI’s 4th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®). “The primary metric we use to look at productivity is total factor productivity – how much are you growing outputs versus the inputs you are putting into it,” he said, adding that technology is a great way to enhance that which is why John Deere is focused on being able to make it easier for farmers to grow the productivity of their operations.

Cory talks more about increasing productivity in this interview: Interview with John Deere's Cory Reed

2013 World Food Prize photos

NCGA Chair is TATT Roundable Alumni

I was happy to see National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson of Iowa at the World Food Prize symposium last week and interested to find out that she was a Truth About Trade and Technology Global Farmer Roundtable alumni.

wfp-pamPam had a seat at the global roundtable in 2010 and she was pleased to reconnect with some of her fellow alumni during the symposium. “There were 20 of us from all over the world,” she said. “We’re all still working and engaged in agriculture in some way to be a leader and to explain why it is biotechnology is so important as a tool for food security.”

Pam was also very pleased with the focus on agricultural biotechnology at World Food Prize this year with the winners all being scientists who have pioneered its development. “Biotechnology is size neutral, it’s good for everyone,” she said, adding that World Food Prize is a great place “for the personal stories and the truth to get out.” Interview with NCGA Chair Pam Johnson

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

2013 World Food Prize photos

Australian Farmer on TATT Roundtable

wfp-tatt-andrew2Australian farmer Andrew Weidemann along with his wife and youngest son attended the Wold Food Prize with Truth About Trade and Technologies (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable. While chatting with Andrew outside of his roundtable role, I learned more about life on his farm in Victoria.  He and his brother are in a partnership along with their families.  They are also involved with a local beer company supplying the barley for Australia’s Finest Barley.

wfp-tatt-andrew1 On the farm in Victoria, Andrew tells me that over the last decade or so they have really started to see advances in their own technologies and how the land is responding. He was one of the first to begin using  technology in his production.

You can listen to my interview with Andrew here Interview with Andrew Weidemann

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos