Ag Media Jamboree

The 13th annual Ag Media Summit, “Jazz It Up!” occurred July 23-27 in New Orleans. It’s the principal congregation of crop and livestock media professionals in the U.S., comprising writers, editors, photographers, publishers and ag-communicator specialists.

These professionals convene to improve their gathering, reporting and dissemination methods for a more efficient, engaging news process on behalf of America’s farm and food industries.

The agriculture media industry is inadequately represented at news outlets throughout America, given that farmers and ranchers are depended upon to provide safe, affordable, abundant food for the country and assist with food initiatives on a global scale.

Attendants Included:
  • Red Barn Media Group
  • Two Rivers Marketing
  • Brandwidth Solutions LLC
  • Cultivate Agency
  • Farm Journal Media
  • Ketchum
  • ZimmComm New Media
Educational sessions occur throughout the five-day event to provide networking opportunities and best-practices sharing.

Sessions Included:
  • “From shoot to finish: Understanding Lightroom,” (Adobe Lightroom is a tool for digital photographers)
  • “Strategic Tweeting”
  • “Think like a reader”
  • “Growing big ears with social media”
  • “Ethics in the trenches: Case studies and solutions”
  • Newsmakers Panel: Ag transportation
To view images of the summit, visit

The agriculture media sector is increasingly important though it continues to decrease in size. Social-media channels are undoubtedly influencing and safekeeping the dissemination of information about an industry so vital to our country.

To promote itself, the summit used the hashtag #AgMS at Twitter, created a Facebook page, a blog and a LinkedIn account.

One great example of recent ag-media Twitter engagement results from Bayer CropScience. Historic flooding throughout much of the Midwest, South and Southeast prompted the company to raise money for American Red Cross relief efforts. For each tweet including the hashtag #BCSFloodRelief the company made a $5 donation.

As years evolve, the landscape of ag-media will continue to transition and the Ag Media Summit will exist as a necessary tool to sustain and develop the industry.

How do you receive your ag-industry news? Does your local news source have an ag reporter/ag section?

Ferris Wheels, Funnel Cakes and Agriculture

There is something so idyllic about state and county agricultural fairs.

According to the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural History and Rural Studies, the first agricultural fairs gave rural families an opportunity to see firsthand the latest agricultural techniques, equipment, crops and livestock. Throughout the course of the 19th century, fairs also incorporated a wide range of educational, recreational, competitive and social activities into their programs and within a few short generations, county and state fairs became a quintessential American tradition.

Today, there are more than 90 county fairs throughout Ohio that take place from June to October every year.

One of the most popular fairs in the state is the Ohio State Fair, which takes place this year July 27 until August 7. Our state fair is one of the largest state fairs in the U.S. From the very first three-day fair in 1850 in Cincinnati to the 11-day exposition of today, the Ohio State Fair has celebrated Ohio's products, its people and their accomplishments for more than 150 years.

Like most events, the fair has changed with the times, but the one constant is that the fair is an agricultural showplace for Ohio's leading agricultural products and livestock.

Ohio State Fair Milestones (

  • 1903: The first butter cow and calf were featured (Each year a different theme is presented, but the cow and calf always return, weighing in at about 1,500 pounds)
  • 1929: The Junior Fair Board was formed consisting of outstanding individuals from various youth organizations including 4-H, Future Farmers of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Boy Scouts of America and the Farm Bureau Youth
  • 1968: The first sale of champions livestock auction was held with sales amounting to $22,674
  • 2000: The fair celebrated its 150th anniversary
For more information about the 2011 Ohio State Fair, visit

I encourage you to visit your own local county fair or our state fair if you get the chance. There is always something for everyone to enjoy — from livestock shows and local produce judging, to tractor pulls and numerous food-stand selections — What’s not to love?

For a full listing of county fairs throughout Ohio, visit

What are your favorite county or state fair memories? Does your family or does anyone who you know participate in any agriculture-related activities at your local fair? If so, what is your/their involvement?

Photo obtained from:

Managing Pesticide Drift

While applying pesticides to crops is inevitable to keep insects, weeds and disease at bay, pesticide drift is not so predictable. Factors like weather conditions, topography, the crop or area being sprayed and pesticide droplet size can all contribute to particles drifting from their target.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that spray drift occurs when pesticide solutions are sprayed and the nozzles of the carrier equipment produce pesticide droplets. Many of these droplets can be so small that they stay suspended in air and are carried by air currents until they contact a surface or drop to the ground.

According to Michelle Wiesbrook, University of Illinois pesticide safety educator, it is important for farmers to form good relationships with their neighbors as both parties can be at risk for a variety of negative effects of pesticide drift.

For farmers, the obvious side effect of pesticide drift is a potential decrease in yield due to crops not getting the full amount of pesticide they require. According to an article, it’s important to implement pesticide drift-reducing practices.

Pesticide Drift-Reducing Practices (
  • Choose equipment and nozzles with the correct droplet spectrum and pressure range.
  • When pesticide labels give a droplet size spectrum, choose the larger droplet size and higher application rate to better stay in target.
  • Keep the spray boom height set only high enough to provide adequate nozzle pattern overlap.
  • Think about updating equipment to include air assist sprayers, electrostatics and automatic rate controllers.
  • Avoid spraying during the heat of the day when evaporation is more likely. Using pesticides that aren’t as volatile will help.
  • Choose low-volatility formulas that have less impact on neighboring crops and the environment. Amine formulations are best.
  • Use additives that reduce droplet size sparingly.
For neighbors of crop farmers who may be concerned about the health of their lawns, gardens and families in regard to pesticide drift, Wiesbrook suggests sharing those concerns with the neighboring farmer.

“If you know ‘what’ will be sprayed ‘when,’ you can plan according by covering your garden with old blankets, making sure the windows are shut or keeping kids out of the yard during that time,” she states.

If you believe that you have been exposed to pesticide spray or dust drift and have health-related questions, you should contact your physician. You can also contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).

What are your thoughts about pesticide drift? Do you or do you know a farmer who sprays their fields with pesticide? Have you ever been a victim of pesticide drift?

Photo obtained from:

GPS in Jeopardy?

One of the most advantageous technological advancements, if not THE most advantageous technological advancement of modern farming, is global positioning systems (GPS).

As stewards of the land, farmers practice sustainable agriculture daily, and GPS technology has dramatically improved agriculture’s ability to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber with less environmental impact.

GPS technology also improves agriculture’s cost and time effectiveness.

A third, unassuming benefit of GPS to the industry is the accessibility it provides to inexperienced farmers who rely on the technology to compensate for lack of instinctive know-how.

GPS Farm Uses (Virginia Tech webpage):
  • Mapping yields (GPS + combine yield monitor)
  • Variable rate planting (GPS + variable-rate planter drive)
  • Variable rate lime and fertilizer application (GPS + variable-rate spreader drive)
  • Variable rate pesticide application (GPS + variable-rate applicator)
  • Field mapping for records and insurance purposes (GPS + mapping software)
  • Parallel swathing (GPS + navigation tool)
GPS Farm Operations Benefits (
  • Precision soil sampling, data collection and data analysis enable localized variation of chemical applications and planting density to suit specific areas of the field
  • Accurate field navigation minimizes redundant applications and skipped areas; enables maximum ground coverage in the least possible time
  • Ability to work with low-visibility field conditions such as rain, dust, fog and darkness
  • Accurately monitors yield data to enable future site-specific field preparation
  • Eliminates need for human "flaggers" and increases spray efficiency to minimize “over-spray”
Because of its impressive assistance to the ag industry, several groups are worried about a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval that may disrupt GPS signals, according to a recent study.

LightSquared, America’s first wholesale-only wireless broadband network, plans to invest $15 billion to build a wireless service using 40,000 base radio stations — merging satellite and terrestrial technology, to create a new nationwide, 4G-LTE wireless broadband network. An FCC waiver allows them to repurpose the nation’s existing satellite spectrum to complete its venture, according to a Bloomberg story.

LightSquared contends that it has developed and submitted a three-part plan to the FCC that addresses the expressed interference concerns its work will cause to the country’s GPS signals.

“This issue will be resolved by good data, smart engineers and good faith problem solving dialog. The end-result will be continuity for the reliable and safe GPS system we have come to depend on along with a new high speed wireless network that will provide huge benefits to consumers,’’ said Sanjiv Ahuja, LightSquared Chairman and CEO.

John Deere is spearheading the “Coalition to Save Our GPS,” a movement to advocate for the demise of LightSquared’s plans.

According to a coalition news release:

“More than 3.3 million U.S. jobs in agriculture and industries rely heavily on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and the disruption of interference with GPS posed by LightSquared’s planned deployment of 40,000 ground stations threatens direct economic costs of up to $96 billion to U.S. commercial GPS users and manufacturers, according to an economic study.”

The coalition includes package shippers FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., GPS-unit makers Trimble and Garmin Ltd. and the Air Transport Association with members Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines.

Ken Golden, director of global public relations at John Deere:

“The use of GPS technology is vital to thousands of people who make their living with agricultural and construction equipment. It is simply not acceptable to allow this new network to interfere with these important industries when all indications are that there is no practical solution to mitigate this interference. In agriculture, the loss of a stable GPS system could have an impact of anywhere from $14 to $30 billion each year. That could significantly erode the strong competitive global position of U.S. farmers in the world agricultural economy. Serious impacts to the productivity of those in the construction business also will be apparent.”

LightSquared asserts that its effort will “bring world-class Internet service to the United States, including rural areas and other underserved communities and injects new competition in an increasingly consolidating wireless market.”

To listen to an audio clip of one of the coalition members expressing his concern for the agriculture industry, visit

How often do you use/rely on GPS? If you farm, has your operation improved as a result of GPS? Do you think that LightSquared can develop a non-obtrusive system?

Photo obtained from: