Connected, Protected, Respected

If you have been following us for a while you know that we have written about Connected, Protected and Respected before, and each time has a bit of a different twist, but the main message is the same: relationships are key to a successful family farm and people feel safe, physically and emotionally, when they are Connected, Protected and Respected.

In concrete terms for harvest time, what does that look like?

Connected (physical and emotional safety)

  • Everyone in the team has a way to communicate with the other team members as they plan the day and as they work. This can be high-tech, low-tech or anywhere in between (morning meeting, group text, CB radio, whiteboard, supper meeting).

Protected (physical safety)

  • Everyone in the team knows how to do their job safely and what to do in the event that something doesn’t go as planned.

    • Discuss any dangers or special considerations for the location(s) where you are working each day as well as along the routes to and from the location(s)

    • Have access to and know how to use the fire extinguishers and first aid kits

    • Keep your phone with you when you exit equipment. Know who to call for help and how to tell them where you are (emergency sign number, legal land description, latitude and longitude)

Respected (emotional safety)

  • Everyone in the team feels that there is a culture where questions are encouraged. Asking a question is better than proceeding when you are unsure - it is safer, and generally more efficient, which means it is more profitable to be sure of the answer.

Wishing you all a harvest where your family relationships are strengthened as you work together, feeling Connected, Protected and Respected.

Read past Connected, Protected, Respected posts: March 2017 May 2018


The 3Rs - Farm Family style

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Roles - Responsibilities - Relationships

Harvest is a time when farm families need everyone to help out in order to get all of the jobs done.

Roles: Roles can be tricky to define as they can be less concrete than responsibilities. Roles might include things like, advisor, consultant or final decision maker. Family farms typically involve multiple generations, and harvest is often the time when people are asked to step into new roles. This also means others may need to step back to make space for these changes to happen. Navigating role changes can be complex and there is no one, best or right way to switch roles.

Responsibilities: Responsibilities refers to the tasks that need to get accomplished - cleaning combines, making meals, ordering fuel, paying bills. Harvest time challenges even the best organizers and time-managers. The time-sensitive nature of harvest dictates that families need to decide which tasks are put on hold and which tasks need to become a different person’s responsibility during the harvest crunch time.

Changing roles and responsibilities can lead to stress in relationships!

Relationships: In farm-family life business and personal life lines are sometimes blurred. Changing roles and responsibilities can lead to hurt feelings or misunderstandings - especially if these changes happen “on the fly”. A pre-harvest meeting can help to set expectations for the season and ensure that everyone is aware of what their roles and responsibilities will look like this year. Open communication reduces assumptions that things will remain the same and ensures that everyone understands any domino effects of shifting responsibilities. Pre-harvest meetings may be one-on-one meetings or involve the whole team at the same time; they can be formal or informal. No matter how they happen, doing the hard work up front helps to set farm teams up for the most successful harvest possible.

Remember 1978? Me neither, but...

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We are back from vacation and ready to jump into harvest! But rather than ag or tech or even harvest stories, this week we are focusing on relationships. Family is what makes having a family farm so impactful, meaningful, motivating, and memorable.

To start off the week we want to say Happy 41st Anniversary to our parents! Any relationship that has lasted since 1978 deserves to be celebrated. Our parents have built a successful marriage, and a successful farming operation, because they are are a good team. They have a flexible give and take, they know how to divide and conquer and they respect each other’s strengths. They have figured out when to hustle and when to be still and they know the importance of making time for fun.

Congratulations to Mom and Dad! Wishing you a great harvest to start of another great year.

Digital scouting record

Every year we choose 5-10 new data capture technologies to see if they improve our ability to capture actionable data that increases yield potential.

We also are very focused on tools that enable generational transfer of knowledge, which is to say realizing that the notebooks full of past years data can now be integrated into digital farming platforms. We have created ‘data test plots’ in several fields. You can see some of the intro videos here: canola and flax.

One of the platforms we are trying is Farm Dog, which is a digital scouting app that works to capture what you are seeing while you are in the field. There are other digital scouting apps, so we will give you what we liked about this one and a few opportunities that challenged us.

What we like:

  1. It has a simple user interface

  2. It works even when you don’t have cell reception - and uploads as you gain reception

  3. It integrates with John Deere Operations Center, so the scouting reports are right alongside the applications we have done in the field

  4. It has GPS pinning in the field so we can go back and check the before and after of applications, and be consistent in where you are scouting so you can pair with what you are seeing in other imagery (drone, satellite etc.)

What has been challenging:

  1. Finding the camera on the user interface when using forms tricked us for a bit - after you scout the crop the camera is behind the 3 ellipsis on the right hand side - in case that saves you any time in finding it

  2. One of our field boundaries on Operations Center would not come through on Farm Dog - just took a bit of time to figure that one out.

We have included a sample scouting report below. Farm Dog has great tutorials that show the full range of the application here.

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Ag PhD: Name Drops in Emerging Ag Tech

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Thank you to all of the attendees who made our first AgPhD as exhibitors a great experience.

Today we had the opportunity to speak about new and emerging technologies, and how they might impact our farms in the next 3-7 years. In case you missed any of the companies or apps that we referenced, you can check out the links below.

AgroCares Nutrient Scanner

Climate Field View

Decisive Farming

Farm Bucks

Farm Dog

Farmers Edge

Greentronics Rite Trace

John Deere Operations Center

Precision AI

Xarvio

Yield 360 soil scan

If you have another tech tool that has been valuable to your farming operation, we would love to hear about it.

The OS button: Taking the Oh s$&# out of a digital transformation of your farm

This week we will be speaking at Ag PhD Field Day about the adoption of technology on the farm.

At Farm Femmes we have been helping farmers convert their farms to digital operations as they set their next generations up for success in precision agriculture. There are 3 key things we’ve learned to make sure that OS stands for Operating System not Oh S$&#.

It’s not easy

If it was easy everyone would do it! Like anything new, getting started is the hardest part.

You’re not the only one wanting to get started - but not quite sure how

Breaking adoption of precision agriculture down into sub-components, and using the learnings each year to improve operations, creates greater adoption. Depending on your operation this may look like:

Year 1 - Import data that has been collected by your machines/displays for previous years. Name fields consistently, merge the data for each field and clean up any data collection errors. Or, if you have equipment that is older or doesn’t yet have displays, we can help you pick out solutions that will help you capture this data going forward. Potential end results: Timelines from seeding to harvest, yield maps for each field, informed soil testing for next year based on fields with greatest yield variation.

Year 2 - Utilize digital suite of tools in the off season to plan for the next season. Soil testing, establish yield goals based on year 1 data (what is realistic for your soil type / conditions) and create a prescription map for spring application. Determine which fields will be planted with which crop in your digital environments so you are set up for success when planting arrives - and there are fewer buttons to press when you get to the field to start tracking the data. Establish equipment settings and offsets to enable the digital creation of jobs. Determine which partners you want to share what information with (agronomists, custom applicators etc.) Focus on implementing several tests for yield improvement that can now be tracked and measured yield and profitability enhancements. Potential end results: Data availability throughout the season as jobs are performed, profitability mapping, integration of partner vendors as your operation desires (scouting, temperature, moisture etc.), integrated partners capture data (agronomists’ scouting reports).

Year 3 - Establish jobs, operators, and equipment electronically during the offseason to ‘push’ to your equipment. Determine if you want to upgrade any of your digital capture equipment (displays, GPS accuracy packages etc.). Integrate any new vendors or partners. Utilize your next generation to help keep your system up to date as well as have discussions about what you are learning is impacting yields and agronomic outcomes. Potential end results: Year 3 is when you will be feeling the positive effects in your operation and your pocketbook of precision agriculture and digital farming. The small wins of year 1 and 2 will have informed your farming practices in year 3 and have set your farm up for success for the next 5, 10, 25 years.

Finding a partner who is agnostic and will work under NDA removes the risks

Completing a digital transformation means that the partner you work with knows a lot about your operation. From creating boundary maps, seeding and application timelines to yield information. You want to choose a partner who is helping you to adopt the power of precision agriculture, but without the connection to your financing, agronomy or equipment. Find a partner who helps you understand the privacy settings on the platform you are implementing and will work under a non-disclosure agreement to ensure that your digital transformation stays private. You own your operation - and how it functions - finding the right partner that respects your privacy and helps you to be successful in a digital transformation is critical.

Farmers who work with FarmFemmes have someone sitting right beside them in the buddy seat - so pressing that OS button doesn't lead to an oh s^$*! moment.⁠ If you would like to learn more, or are interested in a free consult about your operation contact office@farmfemmes.com.

Artificial Intelligence Code Camps (stay an extra day after Ag PhD Field Day)

We have started day camps to help showcase the cool tech now in use in agriculture to the next generations based on 3 key, easy to learn Artificial Intelligence techniques.

  1. Facial recognition is like weed recognition

  2. Text to speech is like voice prompts as to what to do, or hands free directions

  3. Chatbots enable a virtual assistant that can capture the inputs verbally that you capture manually (or partially manually)

As farmers, the more data we collect, and the better we store, process and most importantly USE IT - the better our farms will become and the more likely we are to benefit from the skills of our next generation.  

FarmFemmes will be hosting day camps on July 26th and July 27th at the Dakotah Lodge in Sioux Falls, SD. Extend your trip to Ag PhD Field Day and have your future next generation farmer attend! No programming experience necessary - youth ages 8-16 will learn new skills and capabilities in 1 day - and parents/guardians are welcome to join the ‘show what you know’ session at the end of the day to see the AI their coders have been using.

Hear it from those who already attended AI in a Day Camp

After each camp we ask youth to share what they learned and what their parents saw them demonstrate in the ‘Show what you Know’ that we close each camp with. Christine really impressed us with her chatbot application! We love seeing kids be successful and learning more about the tech that under lies the applications they already use.

Our next camps are in:

Sioux Falls, SD - July 26 or July 27

Brandon, MB - August 10 or August 11

AI in a Day Camp post camp debrief

Flax

This past weekend we shared a few pictures on our social feed about what we were doing in our flax fields this year. We received a lot of questions and e-mails so we thought we would share more about what the field looks like this year.

It is a little early to share all of the new data capture technologies we are using - although we will have some upcoming blog posts of at least a few partners we are working with. We first want to make sure the tools are 1) easy to use 2) integrate into our existing tool suite and 3) provide data that leads to an action.

In the mean time - hope you enjoy a view of flax in bloom.

Drone crop scouting of flax in bloom. Enabling precision agriculture practices with new forms of data capture.

Ag In Motion - Innovation

This is our first time attending Ag in Motion, just outside of Saskatoon, SK. The show is in its fifth year and has a heavy emphasis on field scale trials and demonstrations. The tag line SEE technology, TOUCH innovation, BE Empowered is certainly fitting for this event!

The Ag in Motion Innovations Program recognizes companies that advance agriculture in four areas:

  • Plant and Soil Science

  • Animal and Livestock

  • Agriculture Equipment

  • Agribusiness Services

In addition, six international ag-tech companies are part of the 2019 show, as Canadian farmers attract the attention of worldwide developers and innovators. Combine this with the release of new seed varieties (two Canterra wheat varieties), companies making new product announcements (autonomous dry spinner spreader) and showing off their products and services in unique ways (virtual reality at the AGI booth) and there is no shortage of innovation.

One day is not enough time for this show!