Thursday, August 5, 2010

County Fair and a Lesson in Precision Ag

"My First Fawn" by C. Wilson, age 3.

"Come Get Me Papa" by C. Wilson, age 3.

My three year old daughter recently entered her first County Fair. We've been letting her practice photography with our digital camera. So on one trip to the field, on a beautiful, clear, sunny, North Dakota June day, we let her snap away.

It just so happened that Jeremy was seeding soybeans into a winter wheat cover crop. The winter wheat was only meant to cover the ground and protect it until the soybeans were planted, then it was killed off to let the soybeans grow- that's why the winter wheat in the field looks yellowed.

As Jeremy was driving along, he looked back just as a fawn went through the narrow space between the tire and the opener (big disc that could have made a fawn into mincemeat). He stopped immediately. Thank goodness the fawn made it through without a scratch. It was scared a bit, so it ran into the nearby ditch. So Jeremy and C.W. went to check it out. They crouched down and snuck up to it ever so quietly and she got the picture shown at the top of this blog post. It earned a red ribbon at the fair.

The second picture was taken by well. It shows her little sister waiting for her Papa to come pick her up. It earned a blue ribbon at the fair.

The big machine in the background is our New Holland tractor and our Case IH air seeder. The tractor has dual wheels to spread out the weight of the tractor to keep the soil from being damaged by compaction. That big gray tank at the back (called the "air cart") has compartments for seed and fertilizer. Air is pumped through hoses in the machine that blow the seed and fertilizer into small tubes and eventually sends each one individually into a thin slice in the soil the opener (big disc) makes. Then a rubber wheel rolls over the slice in the soil and closes up the gap, leaving the seeds at exactly the right depth with a tiny grain of fertilizer next to it as food to grow.

The tractor is equipped with GPS and special electronic equipment so that we can map out each of our fields. We can layer electronic maps over each other for soil type, topography, and yield, so that we can plant and fertilize our crops with incredible PRECISION (hence, the name "precision agriculture"). We only want to plant seeds where they have optimal growing conditions and we want to fertilize just enough, because we want to ensure soil and environmental health and we don't want to spend any more money on fertilizer than we have to because it is VERY expensive.

For example, when you go out on a date, do you dump an entire bottle of perfume or cologne on your head? No! You apply a precise amount in a precise place. Well, now you know how precision ag. works, and now you know that our tractor and air seeder are pretty amazing pieces of equipment and that my husband is a genius (okay, so I'm biased about the genius part) :-)

Oh, and one last thing about the county fair. C.W. also made a batch of Holstein Cow Chocolate Chip Cookies for the fair which she insisted she make ALL BY HERSELF! She certainly did- from measuring all the ingredients to cracking the eggs. They earned a red ribbon and a "People's Choice" award.

Not bad for a first-timer :)


  1. Quite a first time showing at the fair at age 3! I will have to have our Miss E get busy for our local county fair next year when she is 3. Great writing also on the precision ag description. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by Katie! Good luck to your wee gal at the fair next year!