Category Archives: Precision Ag

Hoober’s and Precision Agricultural.

Our classes latest field trip brought us to Hoober Inc. in Middletown Delaware.  Hoober’s is an agricultural mechanics business originating from southeast Pennsylvania. From successful business management to adaptability, Hoober’s has been a thriving enterprise. The company has been able to expand to many different locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Our tour began by going through the mechanic’s garage. Here, the technicians at Hoober provide maintenance and guidance to the owners of various types of machinery. The expertise these workers have is so invaluable to agricultural producers and is crucial to the success of the industry. We then moved to the yard where a variety of tractors, combines, combine heads, and sprayers were on display. These technologies have come such a long way within the past few decades. Farmers now have significant control over what and how the treat their fields due to the innovations of agricultural engineers.

Finally, we got to get our hands on some pieces of precision agriculture. One of our tour guides brought in a drone and flew it for us. The resolution of the picture, accuracy of the flight pattern, and responsiveness to direction from the drone were astounding. The implications this technology could have on agriculture, from crop scouting to pesticide application, is just incredible. Then the students had the opportunity to drive a tractor or a sprayer. Both machines had self driving capabilities. Though it was nerve-wrecking at first, the vehicles were able to drive by themselves along a line created using GPS technology. This innovation allows farmers to be much more precise and limit human error in the planting or harvesting processes.

Case IH has become one of the leading companies in regards to precision agricultural innovations for machinery, like this sprayer here.


Mark Lynas’s Changing Opinions on GM Crops

Listening to Mark Lynas not only discuss how his opinions on genetically modified crops have completely changed but also to hear him apologize for bashing on on GM crops was quite interesting to hear. I think it is rare to hear such a strong shift from anti-GMO to pro-GMO. The basis of his switch was, in summary, due to the lack of science that supports GM crops are harmful. It was also aided by his recognition of what is actually causing the problems that people think GM crops are causing. The one point that really stuck out to me was when he said the threat of starvation and world hunger is much greater than the threat of consuming a GM product. Mark Lynas was a prime example of how someone can make an incorrect assumption based on social movements/lack of education on the subject. In his case though, he sought out the correct information and realized his prior opinions were completely invalid to what science was actually saying about GM crops.

My view on genetically modified crops is that they are a safe and sustainable way for farmers to produce the food that needs to be produced to feed the ever growing population. That being said, I don’t think organic farming is a bad thing either. I think organic farming is great, but not sustainable for the population. I also agree with the logic behind Mark Lynas’s opinion. I wouldn’t be in support of something that I thought had a chance of hurting people. Also from a farmer/producer standpoint, we would not grow a crop that would harm our consumers. In the end the consumer is who is determining our profit, so why would we produce something that would be harmful to them? That is why I support GM crops.

Gene Editing

Gene editing as defined by Merriam Webster is, the use of biotechnological techniques to make changes to specific DNA sequences in the genome of a living organism.  This basically means that scientists can go into DNA strands and edit them to display, or not display a certain trait. This can allow for greater accuracy and efficiency of an organism at interest. It is also noted that the process of gene editing usually would naturally occur in nature after repeated breeding. Gene editing just speeds up the process of improving genetics.

This technology of being able to change genetic material in a beneficial way is extremely important for the future of agriculture. It is extremely important in the food and fiber production system and the forever increasing demand of these products. Gene editing can benefit farmers in allowing them to keep up with the demand to produce food. This adds a great value to gene editing because it is one way producers can meet the demand for food and fiber, that will continue to grow.

Field Trip to Fifer Orchards


Water wheel planter being used to plant juvenile strawberries.

On October sixth, the AGRI 130 students had the opportunity to visit and tour Fifer Orchards in Camden Delaware. Fifers is a multi-generation farm that produces grain and horticultural crops. The farm’s production of sweet corn, pumpkins, peaches, and asparagus bring in the most revenue of over seven different crops produced on the farm throughout the year. Fifers consists of 3000 production acres that feature pivot irrigation, drip irrigation, and hard hose irrigation systems depending on the type of crop. In order to ensure the success of their crops, fifers sprays pesticides to prevent the growth of weeds, insects, bacteria, and nematodes in the fields. To further the quality of their horticultural crops, the fruits and vegetables are picked by hand and occasionally picked by customers. A portion of the yield is sold to grocery stores and the rest is sold at the farm. Food safety certificates and USDA food safety audits allow Fifers to sell their products to supermarkets. Precision agriculture, growing tunnels, water wheel planters, and other technological advances have allowed Fifers to become a successful crop producer. It was very interesting to see the water wheel tractor attachment being utilized to plant juvenile strawberry plants. The diversification of the crops grown at Fifers are also an attribute to their success. Each new crop goes through a three year trial process before the plant is grown regularly at the farm. The experience concluded with a tour of the cold storage facilities on the farm; specific products are stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and other products are stored at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoyed the tour of Fifer Orchards, and I learned a lot from the experience. Thank you to Bobby and Curt Fifer for giving AGRI 130 a tour.

Irrigation with James Adkins

Last Wednesday James Adkins guest lectured in class on agriculture irrigation. From the start I was very surprised by the quote he included that said, “While 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces 40% of our foods supply.” This is actually pretty crazy to think that 20% of the farmland produces almost half  of the food supply, and that 20% has to pay for the costs of irrigation.  Through the lecture, James talked a lot about different types of irrigation systems, and different methods of irrigation around the US and world. It was really cool to see how things differed from location to location, especially when irrigation is not used on my farm at all. Irrigation is something in agriculture I am not exposed to much, so it was interesting to learn about the use/impacts of irrigation. He also talked about irrigation in California, which we briefly discussed during one of Ed Kee’s lecture.

James was really intriguing to listen to lecture because of his vast knowledge/experience with these systems. He talked about the process as well as what can go wrong with the systems. James also discussed the precision part of irrigation, and how technology has greatly impacted the accuracy and efficiency of irrigation. Ultimately, I learned a lot about agricultural irrigation from this lecture!

Importance of Irrigation and Water Management with James Adkins

On October third, the AGRI 130 students had the opportunity to learn about irrigation and water management with James Adkins, an irrigation engineer for the University of Delaware. During the lecture, the students learned about the different methods and technologies of irrigation. Each irrigation method has different downfalls and benefits, depending on the soil quality, incline of the land, and other individual factors. It was interesting to learn how irrigation systems have gone from furrow irrigation, which is digging out areas on inclined land to run water through, to center pivot irrigation, which is a technology that distributes water above the crops in a circular fashion. Technological advances have allowed agriculturalists who irrigate to conserve water and reap twice the crop yield of a traditional farm. Current issues have shown that responsible water management is the key to feeding the growing world population. Field research has enabled agriculturalists to develop and improve irrigation methods. Current advances include crop mapping systems, electronic data collection based on irrigation, and the development of drones for mapping.  The eastern half of US crops receive more water than what is required for growth whereas the western half of US crops receive the minimum amount of water for survival. This is due to the amount of rainfall that occurs on the two halves of the US. The difference in rainfall in the US has caused changes in the methodology of irrigation based on a farm’s individual needs. Thank you to James Adkins for teaching AGRI 130 students about irrigation.

James Atkins Irrigation

In James Atkins presentation he covered many  areas that focused on various areas of irrigation. He started his presentation with a very interesting act about how the Mayan empire had started the water irrigation through the way of buckets picking up water, later to be carried to the bottom for use. Another interesting fact he mentioned in his presentation was  that a million gallons of water use of 10 households in a year, 1 /2 olympic pools, water used by 100  acres of corn in 1 day and 166 tanker loads. James also stated that its so very key how much water a field and its distance from the pivot.  On one of the graphs it showed that the farther it got from the gun and right before the water gun that the amount of water was off the point where they wanted it to hit. Irrigation isn’t cheap either with the most expensive irrigation system being $600 to $3500 per acre.

Irrigation Guest Lecture

James Adkins, the irrigation specialist at the UD research farm, gave a guest lecture to our class about irrigation. He showed us how irrigation systems have evolved through the years and which methods are the most efficient. It was amazing to see how advanced the technology was that could tell farmers when to apply and how much. This is especially important in some states where water is becoming harder and more expensive to resource to aquire, such as California, the biggest agricultural producer in the U.S. All the new irrigation technologies use precision ag for field mapping, data collection, and many other things. Irrigation has a very significant impact on yield, but soils and nutrients and rain fall also influence yield. Delaware for example has no where near the amount of topsoil as Iowa, therefore Iowa’s soil can hold a lot more water for a longer time period.  It was interesting to hear a lecture from someone with such an increasingly important job.

Precision AG Lecture-Mark Isaacs

During the lecture, I was very intrigued to see how technology and especially drones are incorporated into agriculture work. Watching the video about drone use in California just helped me understand the importance of emerging technology. It now only allows more efficiency and decrease the hard labor for workers and can give them more free time to work on any other important tasks. Not only are drones important but watching looking at GPS and how important it is to optimize returns and preserving resources. Farmers have to battle constant price increases and smaller profit margins and the only way to keep up and sustain a profit making farm, is to incorporate precision AG into their daily tasks. It not only helps them make more money, but it increases their quality of life, whether that be giving them more time to spend with family etc.

UD WEBB Farm Field Trip

Saturday’s field trip to Ud’s WEBB Farm was incredibly educational. I learned so much about my University that I did not know about after attending school here for three years. I had heard of Webb Farm before, but I had never been there before. I did not know that we had horses! I am very appreciative of the experience, even though it was a chilly day. I enjoyed seeing the baby cows, and learning about the AG technology that UD utilizes with their dairy cows. I did not realize how technologically advanced our farm is. I loved seeing where the cows get milked, and how the technology identifies each individual cow, and records all of their data automatically. I also was intrigued by the cows feeding system, and how they are trained to go to the same feeder every day. In addition to the dairy cows, we got to learn a lot about how UD maintains their chickens, horses, sheep, and beef cows. We learned a lot of very honest information in regards to farm management, and the challenges that technologic advances can present. We even were given access to view the compost section of the Farm, even though it is not as well developed as they would have liked it to be. As I was taking in the fall colors and scenery on the way to Webb Farm, we were informed that the trees we saw were all planted as a buffer. They are almost all native, and provide a variety of environmental benefits to the landscape surrounding the research farm. I was very happy to hear that, and it gave me a deeper appreciation of the landscape, knowing it’s impact on the environment! 

Hoobers Inc Field Trip Experience

The picute above is my classmates and myself on one of the tractors we were able to opperate 

Being able to understand todays agriculture and how we get our food from farms to markets is an unbelieveable experience. The technology we have today, helps us further agriculture along with being able to feed over seven billion people! One of the main ways that agriculture has become easier for farmers is GPS systems. WIth this power farmers are able to use drones to scope out either the issues that are in their crop so they can make adjustments for the next set of crops. While at Hoobers we got the opportunity to see two different drones. One of the drones had the power to fly over an hour and has differnt cameras to show drout in crops! The other drone was able to fly for about thirty minutes but was able to fly by the users phone.  The technologyg used today is not only invested in drones; tractors have the capibility to have automatic stearing and can be positioned by satalites to keep in a very precise line and cause little to no errors with the spacing in the crops!Technology is beyong incredibe and will continue to grow and imrpove the world around us.

My Trip to Hoober

This past Saturday, my classmates and I visited Hoober Inc. to tour its site and learn about the history of the company along with how technology plays a vital role in agriculture today.   I’ve never visited a store like Hoober so the field trip was very informative.  We were toured around by two very kind workers.  They began the tour by telling us a little bit about themselves and how their company was brought up.  I was shocked to hear that one of the workers didn’t go to college and the other did but majored in pre-vet. That goes to show that life is inevitable and like professor Isaac always says even if your desired job is to be let’s say a doctor you could end up being something completely different like a sales associate at Hoober!  After we were given this introduction we were taken out back to the garage where we saw machines getting repaired.  It was amazing seeing some of these machines up close because I’ve only really seen them in pictures.  I wasn’t expecting them to be as big as they actually are.  Later on, we were taken outside and we learned more about the machines that were located near a corn field.  Again, I was shocked to see how big these machines are and even more shocked to hear how much they cost.  After hearing about how the machines are engineered and the technology inside of them, I understood why the machines are expensive.  The last part of the field trip was my favorite.  Not only did we learn about drones but we also got to see two in action.   I’ve seen drones before but nothing compared to the one that I saw that day. To end our day at Hoober, we got to take a machine out for a whirl. Although I was a bit apprehensive about driving one at first, I’m glad I got to do it.  Not many people can say they’ve driven a sprayer before!

Hoober Inc. Field Trip

Hoober Inc. is a three-generation family-owned farm equipment company. With 9 locations in the Mid-Atlantic, Hoober Inc. is the region’s leader in precision farming. If there was one thing I took away from this awesome field trip it would be that technology is take the agricultural world by storm. Efficiency makes money, and when money is being made everyone is happy. For the farmers finding ways to collect data more efficiently is key. Drones are the perfect solution. You can set the drone’s route and they fly high above the farmer’s field while taking pictures so when it comes back down the farmer can see if there are any problems with his crops. Drones cut out a lot of time that the farmer would have to spend walking through his field looking for damage. Technology plays a significant role for companies like Hoober as well. When farmers come in to have their equipment worked on they expect it to be done quickly because the longer they have their equipment in the shop the more money they are losing. Technology and the specialists that work for Hoober allows there to be a quick, efficient turn around. Just like with any piece of technology, it doesn’t always cooperate so that is why Hoober incorporates specialists into their company. If a diagnostic tool break down, they can rely on a specialist to be able to figure out the problem faster than someone who has just a general knowledge of all the farm equipment. A job in precision agriculture doesn’t necessarily require a college degree but it does demand patience and common sense which may prove to be more difficult than acquiring a college degree.

My first time on a tractor!

Hoober’s Field Trip

On our class trip to Hoober’s, we learned how important technology is in agriculture and how that trend will continue to increase. They explained what precision ag entails and how much easier and efficient it has made farming. Hoobers biggest sellers for precision ag products are sprayers and retrofitting old planters with the newest technology, making it more economically viable. They explained how the always changing technology makes their job exciting, but also how keeping up with it is one of the biggest challenges. The burnout rate for working with precision ag was only 18 months! It was amazing to see how specialized the mechanics at Hoober’s were; they had combine mechanics, sprayer mechanics, planter mechanics, etc.  and it made sense after seeing how many parts went with each piece of equipment. It was also interesting to see how advanced drones have become and how they have become a big part of agriculture. The trip really showed how essential it is to be computer competent if studying agriculture because that is unquestionably the future.

Hoobers Visit

During our trips to Hoober’s Inc. many new things came to my knowledge about the use of precision agriculture in our country. When talking to the gentlemen who worked their, they were able to give us a tour of the shop where most repairs occur. Within the shop their are specific people who work on specific things, such as guys who may only focus on combines, where another guy may focus on just only tires. Also we were able to view the use of a drone, which was pretty amazing. The drone itself allows farmers to view their fields in just minutes, helping them before, during, and after the season. It allows farmers to diagnose problems as well as fix them. Finally the best part of the trip in my opinion was the experience of driving the tractor. Never driving one before really opened my eyes on the use and how a tractor could be so useful. I could really picture a future in this line of work