This past week I was in Wichita and up at K-State at the Kansas State Agricultural Bankers’ Conference. In my drive across Kansas’ Flint Hills, I found it to be very dry as they were burning the pastures to get ready for another season. It appears that drought is setting up in this part of the country.
In conducting the Young Farmers’ Conference sponsored by Central Kansas Farm Credit in Wichita, the key issues facing our young couples were time management, balancing family and business, and earning a living. Contrast that to older producers, where I find land values, commodity prices, and government payments are the themes they are most concerned about. It is interesting how issues change by the generations.
One young producer who I shared dinner with at a Japanese steak house was using all of the latest technology with John Deere. He was able to plant his corn without driving a tractor. The driver’s role was to adjust the planter for the GPS satellite. He was able to reduce fertilizer applications by 15 percent.
To keep his drivers from being bored, they watch movies in the tractor. He must shut down planting between two and four a.m. Central Time so that the military can change satellite coordination because of the war in Iraq.
In the fall he can harvest up to 900 acres in a day; however, the average is 600 acres. When custom harvesting, he charges an extra $1 per acre if the customer wants information from the GPS on planting, seeding and fertilizer applications and yields. The producers have been a little slow in signing up, however. Wow, this is not how our parents farmed!
As I write this column, we are sitting in traffic on the way to the NASCAR races in Martinsville, Virginia. I would have to say, this is quite a cultural event. We have observed cars from 23 states all the way from Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, and Texas. This sport is growing in popularity to more than the "good ole’ boys."
I’ll be staying around Blacksburg this week, taking a little break from airline hassles, and enjoying the nice spring weather.
Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.
To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.
The Corn and Soybean Digest