Category Archives: Field Trips-Tours

Universitys of Delawares Farm Field Trip

“It all is kind of interesting, we have a lot of interesting projects not just one” (Scott Hopkins). Scott Hopkins, farm superintendent of the University of Delaware’s farm, informed the University of Delaware’s students about the farm through giving the students of the understanding todays ag class a tour of each livestock as well as the organic farm and wetlands the university offers. UD’s farm is composed of 350 acres in which stretches part of the south campus, starting from the side of Townsend, with the organic farm, which is composed of 2 acres and grows the produce of kale, cabbage, and other vegetables that is grown and later sold to the star lab across the street, to the university’s livestock farm. With the university’s organic farm producing vegetables for food for the star lab, the university also has few acres of field corn and other crops such as rice for research and to feed the livestock it has which allows the university to feed and supply the livestock grown on the farm that consists of sheep, equine, dairy and beef cattle and poultry.

On the livestock farm, Mr. Hopkins explained that each of the livestock has different feeding and housing requirements and overall health requirements which makes it very crucial to understand each for efficient production of that specific species. Essentially, with these operations on the farm on campus, the need of students and faculty in certain areas has arisen which Mr. Hopkins explains leads to many opportunities for the University of Delaware’s student to gain experience in different fields. Additionally, the University of Delaware’s farm is a large operation that needs many people to make this operation successful as the years continue forward and with this trip, it provides an insight for the students about the plant and livestock industry which can help us further understand those two industries as a whole; as well as gain an interest which is that the organic farms produce is supplied to the star campus and local farmers markets.

Hoober Farm Equipment

I think with the growing use and perhaps reliance on technology that agriculture is encountering, it was really important to visit Hoober Equipment. This field trip allowed students to drive tractors first hand and have a better understanding of auto-steer and GPS coordinates which includes using and locating two points on a map, helping keep tractors/farm equipment in a straight line throughout a field. Combines, designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops, are one of my favorite tractors. The name derives from its combining three separate harvesting operations—reaping, threshing, and winnowing—into a single process.

Understanding Today’s Agriculture, AGRI130 Field Trip #3- Hoober Equipment

On October 12, 2019, Mr. Dave WARRY led the class on a tour of Hoober Equipment.  Getting off to a slightly late start, the tour began with a brief outline and background of the business and the employees in the particular branch we visited.

Mr. WARRY began by introducing himself, saying he began working with Precision Agriculture at Hoober’s in 2005.  He followed this up, by stating how unusual it is to remain in the business so long, saying people usual spend about 18months in the industry.  He says this is due to many factors, but he says there are many potential sources of frustration doing the job, such a people calling at all hours, people forgetting how to use the equipment from season to season, and the vast amount of patience required to deal with a flustered farmer who can’t move their product because of broken and malfunctioning machinery whilst waiting on repairs.  Mr. WARRY graduated from Penn State after majoring in Agricultural Systems Management and technology, but after college he went to work on a farm for four years, an experience he viewed equally valuable as college.  Agricultural Systems Management was not his first choice however- initially he was studying pre-vet, but saw it as, ‘a lot of work’, only switching his major after taking an Introduction to Agriculture course where the Advisor for Agricultural Systems Management (ASM).

Mr. WARRY said that Hoober’s works with Mr. James ADKINS and his irrigation technology, but each employee specializes in different equipment.

Next, we were introduced to Mr. Charlie IRVIN, who’s been with Hoober’s for a similarly long stretch time, doing service installs and working as the shops tractor and shop repairman for 12.5years.

Hoober’s itself is a family business established in 1941 and has 9 locations throughout PA, MD, DE, and VA.  The third generation, Mr. Bud HOOBER is gradually being succeeded by the next generation.  Hoober’s values a strong skill set over any degree.  They are looking for employees with personality, ‘common sense’, ambition, accountability, and self-motivation.  There are opportunities to receive on-the-job training as well as being sent around the country. Mr. WARRY did say that they struggled to find interested potential recruits.  He advocates the work with electronics because it offers employees a chance to learn and advance, and is often easier on an aging body than, ‘turning a wrench’ and working solely on mechanics.

Part of the work done at Hoober’s includes troubleshooting, which according to Mr. WARRY, takes very little time, and is done with charts and by computer.  Other ventures include a technology field lab and class tours like ours.

Hoober’s deals in agricultural, lawn&garden equipment, and construction equipment with automated technology.  Much of Hoober’s competition strives to sell programing tools for whatever technology they’re promoting- Hoober’s programming works across brands, for any equipment they carry.  The Tractor Supply Co., while very close by, is not a source of competition, as they only sell small parts- like hitches & chains- and animal feed- products that compliment what Hoober’s sells.

Automated steering is one of the most popular feature and it is used to prevent operator fatigue that often sets in a different points of a farmers 18hour day- the technology will keep the equipment running straight down the rows of a field, working at peak efficiency. Heated cabs, stereos, heated seats, and raised seating are among some of the modern-day features in the latest pieces of automated machinery.  When the computerized technology was tested against a conventional, non-autonomous piece of equipment, the drivers were required to take eight hour time-outs, operating only 30minutes at a time, according to test regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The equipment Hoober’s carries is expensive.  Some of that expense is simply due to the brand name. Mr. WARRY told use that John Deere is always expensive, even when purchasing the brands signature yellow and green paint.  He cautioned us that John Deere equipment purchased at stores like Lowes & Home Depot is cheaper than buying directly from a company dealership, and that those cheaper pieces of equipment are often made of cheaper materials that will not last as long.  Other brands we saw included Cub Cadet and CASE among others.  Regardless of the brand, when purchasing a $400, 000 tractor vs. a $1, 000 lawnmower, the cost of repairs can quickly exceed the original price.

A stop in the back office revealed multiple shelves packed with service manuals- some as much as 50 years old, and still used regularly.  Though the floor might have been pressure-washed before we arrive, the 25-year-old building is due for an update, with new lighting and shrubbery planned for the interior and exterior, respectively.  Even with the desire to do some, ‘sprucing up’, Mr. WARRY said one of the best upgrades to the building, was the addition of AC, which made the working environment much more pleasant.

In the shop and ‘Combine Productivity Clinic’ massive repair jobs are underway on equally massive piece of machinery.  Brand new tractors shipped to the Port of Delaware arrived with damage received in-transit- required $100, 000-worth of repairs incurred from a rough sea journey.

The expense is understandable when the sheer power of the equipment is compared with that of a ‘standard’ tractor- the first machine we looked at, with 20, 000lbs/ft of torque, a 50, 000gal load of manure, and capable of pulling 70, 000lbs all together, was still able to reach up to 42mph, when a factory-quality tractor may only go 38-40mph.  That said, the machine would have significantly less horsepower running with natural gas.  Mr. WARRY projects methane from digested animal waste and electric battery technology with hydrogen fuel cells will be the way of the future.

Even with some of the mechanics shortcoming, the data for agronomy and electronics is still making great strides.  Automated dairies that record the amount of milk gathered and don’t require farms to manually latch each pump to a cows udder. Center pivot irrigation systems can be calibrated to the unique needs of different cultivars or even different varieties like corn.  Every three days, satellite images come in with up to 3ft(1m.) resolution, 30-40ft wide in infrared, near infrared, and color- data that allows farmers to almost distinguish individual plants.  In addition to the aerial views supplies by satellites, drones- currently in-vogue for scouting real estate- are now being used to evaluate irrigation, weeds, and nutrient application.  Mr. WARRY assures us that drone don’t replace agronomists- people are still needed to use the information they provide- drones just help farmers know where to look and address problems.

Hoober’s own connectivity network includes way stations all the way out to Ohio, with 1-1.5in. horizontal and vertical GPS accuracy, allowing its autonomous software to autocorrect and re-calculate paths with great precision.

One of the machines we spent a great deal of time going over was the Quadtrac. This particular machine had been stuck in the Delaware River/ocean, submerged with water well over the cab.  While Mr. WARRY repeatedly reminded us this piece of equipment was not, in fact, a submarine, he did tout it’s capacity to do a large amount of work- more than a bulldozer and dump truck combined.  Initially running after being fished out of the drink, the saltwater burnt the Quadtrac’s starters and batteries.  When fully operation, the powerhouse machine can travel 24mph on it’s treads with horse power ranging from 470hp up to 620hp, making it a go-to for beach reclamation and recovery, pushing sand on the dunes.  They are favored by the Delaware Dept. of natural Resources and Environmental Control(DNREC). The Quadtrac cost about $480, 000, but will cost the customer $1mil for repairs and having ht mechanics re-tuned.

Certain costs of repairs can be mitigated if the customer chooses the right features and tools for the job and puts the proper care and maintenance into his/her equipment.  With the Quadtrac, the Rubber-on-rubber treads generates heat, so dirt and sand are a good lubricant for those moving parts.  If a customer decides to upgrade to chrome over steel, this upgrade can prevent significant wear that would usually occur in just 2-3years.  1 (relatively) small chrome part, can cost $8, 000.

Using all this precision machinery, it can cost a farmer over $1mil just to complete a harvest.  Hoober ‘s provides expertise & technical support- for a $120, 000 service fee.

Look up!
Head out

Next, after a brief safety-scare- while standing in the ‘Combine Clinic’ where the mere tires of the machinery dwarfed us, workers were servicing a machine off to the side, over our heads- we headed out of the shop to allow those employees to work.  Our next stop was a small field of grass where we would be able to drive three pieces of equipment- but not before learning a bit about them. A brief discussion before the highly anticipated interactive portion of the trip- almost like grace before a meal…

First there was the Sprayer– a 120ft. Class 4 vehicle costing around $430, 000.  It’s great width prevents greater damage to small grain crops like soybeans that aren’t planted in rows.  Equipped with 72 nozzles, each is powered by it’s own computer.  The droplets sizes emitted from the sprayer are adjusted through pulsing pressure changes from the nozzles.  Regulations are in place to keep the pressure, ‘on target’ to avoid spraying private property & gardens.  With the Sprayer’s electrified network, any application of nitrogen is prone to mess up any one of the 72 computers onboard.  Mr. WARRY said that due to the info.-input overload of having each computer sending it’s own date, Hoober’s is going to do an $18, 000 re-tool on a 12-row sprayer, using just seven computers for a batch of nozzles using a new company’s technology.

Next up, we saw the Planter.  This machine was not one we go to drive, but we went through a run-down of its features too.  It cost around $150, 000- $180, 000- one of the cheapest pieces of equipment we spoke on today.  The seed is sucked into numerous individual planters by a vacuum.  The Planter is able to change its seeding rate and use markers to mark the rows, via satellite imagery and overlaying maps.  Seeds are planted using hydraulic downforce– how hard the see is placed into the ground. This machine can plant and fertilize seed.  There is also a no-till setting with which the machine parts the organic matter in a V-shape before depositing a seed and packing the soil over top.

The talk concluded and, instead of unfolding our hands, the Sprayer was folded into a much more compact, easier-to-drive setting.  During this transition, Prof. ISAACS reminded us of the $150mil cost of taking an idea to the construction phase- all the changes and improvements to each iteration of the equipment that had to be tested and approved before making it to market. One student asked what type of equipment might cut costs for the farmer.  Mr. WARRY said it depends, but a $60-70, 000 piece of machinery could be combined with an $11, 000 planter, then stripped and fit with electronics and computers, an do an acceptable job when compared with a top-line model.

During my ride in the one of the machines- the older of two CASE tractors, I was able to have some of my questions answered too.  I learned that Hoober’s does rent some equipment and there are places to go for that, but usually a farmer will invest in their own.  I also learned that new farm equipment may also come with failsafes to prevent damage from improper use- for example, when the Sprayer was being folded, Prof. ISAACS mentioned that if the sections were folded out of sequence they could crumple the components or even come through the cab!  Lastly, in response to what Mr. WARRY had mentioned about the technology component of precision agriculture being easier on older bodies, I asked about accessibility for farm equipment- a thought that came to me simply because I am shorter and climbing into the cabs, though not impossible, was a bit daunting.  Mr. ISAACS told me such a program exists- it’s call AgrAbility.  He told me that they make entering the cab much easier, but unlike other services that make custom vans from the ground up, there are no, ‘custom cabs’ because tractors cannot deviate from there factory default specs like that.

The trip concluded with a class picture and free Hoober ball caps and snapbacks for everyone.

 

Hoober’s Field Trip

I was unfortunately unable to attend the field trip, but after speaking with some classmates who were in attendance, I now have a better idea of what happened and what was learned during the trip.

It seems that this trip was all about technology and it’s importance in the lives of those involved in agriculture. Hoober’s is an agricultural equipment and machinery supplier; selling more traditional farm equipment as well as equipment used in precision agriculture. It is due to places like these that farmers are able to stay on the cutting edge of new technological developments, and because of this technology being supplied, farmers can do so much more in less time with less physical labor.

These technologies are very important for improving the lives of the farmer through reduced labor, increasing the amount of food through higher rates of harvest in the same amount of land, and doing so in an environmentally friendly way.

Hoober’s Field Trip

This Field trip was very fun and I learned a lot about how precision ag is changing the way farmers do things. Hoober’s from the sound of it is where I would buy all my farming equipment. They are helpful and more important than that they are knowledgeable. Driving the tractors was very cool. The closest thing I’ve driven to a tractor was a bulldozer with a small backhoe on the back. The tractor was a lot smoother. Unfortunately, the auto steering didn’t work while I was in there but it started to right at the end so I got a little look at what was going on. It defiantly is cool how it just completely takes over and immediately starts to mark where you have been and I’m sure it would track everything you’ve harvested or sprayed. Which like professor Issac said would be very beneficial in a court case. This field trip definitely showed off this side of the industry very well and taught me a lot.

Hoober Equitment Field Trip

I really, really enjoyed the field that we took to Hoober Equipment. It was nice to be able to get a first hand look at a company like that and as large as that works. It was probably one of my favorite field trips I have ever been on. It was really interesting to be able to see how a company like that runs and operates. I thought it was cool being able to drive the tractors and first hand be able to see how precession agriculture is used and works. Especially with auto steer and and how the GPS coordinates can keep a tractor on track all the way through a field just by picking two points on the map. It was really interesting to be able to walk through there shop and be able to see tractors that were taken apart, and I was able to actually see things on a tractor that I had not previously seen. Hoobers has a lot of job opportunities as well that I had never really thought about but am extremely interested in pursuing because I would love to work at a place like that.

Hoober Field Trip

Last Saturday, our class took a field trip to Hoober in Middletown, Delaware. Founded in 1941, Hoober specializes in both the sale and repair of agricultural tractors, sprayers, harvesters, and planters, as well as precision agriculture equipment. Over the years, Hoober has established a reputation for reliability and professionalism. Hoober has several locations throughout Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

The tour began with two employees explaining their career with Hoober and discussing their current jobs. Eventually we came to the workshop and saw several tractors in various states of repair. After this, we were given the opportunity to drive three tractors around a field with the aid of a precision agriculture tool, the auto-steer. The auto-steer is a very helpful tool used by most farmers to make steering a tractor easier. Using GPS, the auto-steer automatically drives the tractor along a predetermined course. Overall, I enjoyed this field trip and what it taught me about the many applications of precision agriculture used by Hoober, Inc.

Hoober Inc. Field Trip

On Saturday, October 12th, the Understanding Agriculture class went to Hoober Inc. in Middletown, Delaware. Hoober Inc. is a well-renown farm equipment supplier across the east coast. They sell reliable equipment like Kubota, Case IH, and JCB Agriculture products, as well as many more! We were given a tour of the workshop where technicians and mechanics repair tractors, combines, sand-separators, etc. and were shown various parts that make the farming equipment viable for crop production. The class was also informed about the importance of precision agriculture and the up and coming technologies that are used for farming, like satellite mapping and aerial robotics that are already being used by Hoober. Once we were done in the workshop, the class was given the privilege of riding tractors that are used for planting, tilling, and covering acreage on a farm. I had no idea that these things were actually auto-steer, making it so much easier for farmers to finish their hard labor, especially when they are fatigued from working their fields all day. Companies such as Hoober Inc. are very crucial to the agriculture industry, and with developing technologies every day, this company is proving that agriculture is becoming more environmentally and technologically sustainable and much more convenient for farmers when they need this convenience the most, and they are always on the farmers side when they need repairs or advice on their farm equipment. The farm industry would be nothing without companies like Hoober!

Field Trip: Hoober inc

Hoober inc is a company working on selling, maintaining and fixing construction and agriculture equipment since 1941. They have other locations on Philadelphia, Maryland, Virginia and, of course, Delaware. We went to the Hoober inc shop in Middletown, Delaware. We visited their office, there are a whole wall of manual and document of equipment which can track back to 50s. It touches the bottom of me. When I look these files, it really shows their passion and love on this job. It matters to them. They want to supply the best service to their customers. Then we visited their workshops, we saw many staff working on their position. And there is some equipment took apart. When I look inside of an engine, I can’t imagine how hard to take it apart, find the problems, fix them, and put everything back. We also got opportunity to drive some of equipment. They are truly huge, like a tank, or bigger than a tank. And they cost a lot of money, some of them cost over half million dollars. I can figure that. They have so many technological equipment on one vehicle. For example, a sprayer with its 140-gallon fuel tank and 1,200-gallon product tank can keeps working in the field for a full day of spraying, and there are dozens of minicomputers, in its trailer for the each of the sprayers, which are complicated to monitor. They are trying to reduce the computer to 7 computers now.

It was a fascinating experience for me to learn about that the new equipment and technologies improve the precision agriculture in the modern agriculture.

Fifer Orchards

On September 28, 2019 the class took a field trip to Fifer Orchards at the very beginning of the farms Fall Fest‘commemorating it’s 100th year.  This trip would commence very differently than the last one, with the majority of the tour spent on the bus.  We would ride around to various fields before visiting the sorting and packing area, taking our obligatory class picture, and finally checking out the farm’s country store.

1st stop on the tour…

The first talk about irrigation…

Our host, Mr. ‘Bobby’ FIFER met us in the parking lot before climbing aboard the bus.  He began the tour by giving the class a cit of backstory on himself and the farm.  Mr. FIFER was a Virginia Tech graduate who continued to work at the farm after college with his two other brothers and cousin for the past 15 years.  Together they encompass the fourth generation of the families now 3000acre farm.  Mr. FIFER stated the family once owned more land after they moved from Rehoboth to Dover in 1904 after the drowning of a child, but those Milford and Magnolia parcels were either sold or lost to time.  The third generation, made up of Mr. FIFER’s father, now in his 80’s, and Mr. FIFER’s Aunt remain active with the help of two or three female staff members working in public relations.  Every family member has their own role to fill n the farm and no one is vying for the other’s job.

An unexpected traveling companion…

A sleepy traveling companion…
Hmm, Interesting…

Mr. FIFER notes that each family member does what he or she is best-suited for and comfortable with.  Mr. FIFER really enjoys working amongst the people and being at the front of the farms public brand. His brother, Mr. Kirk FIFER, worked for Sargenta right out of college in the 1990s, so he handles a lot of the sales- ‘whether a consumer wants 10 or 10, 000 case of product’, as well as wholesale to Walmart. Mr. Michael FIFER, the cousin, handles the public relations angle of the business, handling retail in Dewey Beach and Dover, booking entertainment, and coordinating ‘Fall Fest’.  Another, older brother, prefers to work behind-the-scenes, out int he fields, in a harvester, or just doing maintenance.

‘Velvet Leaf’, or ‘Elephant Ear’ weed
Very fuzzy leaves…
Kohlrabi

No matter the role, there is always plenty for any one member to do because Fifer’s is a very diversified farm.  At the start of the growing season, they are packing fruit, off-season asparagus (a fern and early spring crop that stores energy in it’s roots), and one of their most profitable crops per acre, tomatoes.  Strawberries often complete for the most profitable crop per acre, but overall, corn and pumpkins generate the most money. Surprisingly, the tree fruit for which the orchard is known, has the lowest profit per acre, because Delaware’s warmer temperatures and humidity is not really conducive to growing the best peaches or apples.  Peaches are prone to get stink bugs, scab, brown bacteria, leaf rot, and scale, with apples fairing a little better, subject to fire bight, wart, black rot, as well as scab, scale, and nutrition deficiency.  Both crops are subject to daily pest struggles and require different pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides to stay viable.  The harvest season runs from April to December, and also includes kale, broccoli, cauliflower, beans(in rotation with corn), and sweet potatoes.  Most of the crops are sold locally, though the corn may be shipped as far a s New Mexico, Walston (PA?), Miami, Mississippi, and Colorado.

Crop duster hard at work…
Strawberry fields
Raised beds, plastic, and row covers…
The re-used row cover…

The high temperatures and humidity create the constant threat of disease, making it very difficult to grow anything organically in this state, so Fifer’s is not an organic farm.  Mr. FIFER says it’s not worth the ‘headache’ to try and it’s too time-consuming.

Despite the high level of Inputs required for conventional production, Fifer’s has a reliable way to manage their equally high levels of output.   They farm utilizes mechanical harvesting for it’s sweet potatoes and corn, along with other harvesters and mowers.  Other crops that require hand labor is often supplied by immigrants through the H2A Program, which supplies guest workers on Federal visas to harvest and pack produce. The Fifer’s must pay for the workers living expenses, providing housing, laundry, rides to Walmart and work, as well as $1, 400 per month for the employees to go to an from Mexico from September 1 to November 1.  It’s is a great expense, but Mr. FIFER asserts that working through the government program means they only need about 70 people versus the 100 domestic workers they once hired, even as the farm has grown and expanded.

A Hi-tunnel…

To facilitate this growth, Fifer’s has employed a variety of different growing methods, such as double cropping, or growing 2 crops in one year, cover cropping, and reduced tillage. They have also employed the use of ‘protected agriculture’, implementing hi-tunnels with measurable success. Mr. FIFER stated that the practice is easier in New York and Vermont, but in New Jersey, E. PA, and further southward it’s ‘impossible’.  Hi-tunnels were utilized to extend the growing season and sell on the ”shoulder season’.  Cultivars like strawberries and raspberries were grow first, but tomatoes were the ones that proved most lucrative. The Fifer’s could produce 2-3× the yield in tomatoes when no other local farm has them well into the month of December- but from November into December consumers are often thinking of squash and kale and other ‘fall foods.’  Hi- tunnels are most cost effective than a greenhouse for the Fifer’s as their expense is based on length- they only cost $10, 000-$40/50, 000 per acre.  They are a big deal in other states like PA, Maryland, & Virginia.  The only caveat is the tunnel cultivar must be rotated and the physical structure moved, or the land it sits on must be fumigated, i.e., the soil must be injected with chemicals to kill and sterilize it of everything- which is an added cost.

Additional growing methods like raised beds and bed covers are used for weed and pest management, as well as on-farm experiments.  Raised beds can prevent the wetting of leaves, which promotes bacterial growth.  Mr. FIFER spoke of his efforts using plastic bedcovers, namely with strawberries, to keep the soil warm and prohibit weed growth as well.  Mr. FIFER said he intended to try alternating between black and white plastic on different rows to stagger the crops soil heat absorption by a few degrees and extend the harvest season with equally ripe berries.  The bedcovers, used in tandem with 0.9-1.2oz. re-used row-covers, can be used to retain heat and trick the plants into, ‘thinking they’re in NC’- Delaware strawberries are planted the 1st-3rd week of September, but NC strawberries are planted well into October, with a harvest by the end of April or early May.

Outside the packing facility…

To maintain soil health, the Fifer’s plant oats, whose roots grow up to 1ft. long and absorb and excess nutrients and prevent soil erosion.  They may also plant, ‘Tillage Radishes’ that aerate the soil by breaking up the hardpan and create mulch to increase the soil’s organic matter. The Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation Service(ASCS) will pay farmers for planting cover crops, which is particularly important for sandy soil.

Inside the refrigerated packing facility…

One off the most important aspects of farming that Mr. FIFER covers, was the orchards extensive use of different irrigation techniques.  Citing Mr. James ADKINS and his expertise on irrigation, Mr. FIFER stated the farm uses 600-12–gal per min wells to power their system of Drip Irrigation, Underground Drip Irrigation, Linear and Center Pivot Irrigation, and Hard-Hose Irrigation. Drip irrigation was displayed on the surface of the peach orchard and used because the farmers experience less of a problem from rodents, groundhogs, and foxes gnawing the lines than they would with an underground system.  To run the drip irrigation, the water source must be free of iron and scale, or the hoes nozzles will become plugged, so clarification and filtering are used.  With the linear and center pivot irrigation, seen in a field of Kohlrabi, cauliflower, and collards, the system works with automatic pressure release valves and is positioned on plastic wheels that, while more costly, don’t go flat and bolt onto the hub.  The hard-hose irrigation system must be hooked to a well, unspooled with a tractor for 200ft and then dragged and relocated, unhooked, and re-hooked to different hydrants along tramlines.

Just outside the refrigerated section…

Looking out on ‘Fall Fest’…

Another aspect, pest management, was covered throughout the tour.  One method discussed was airblast and airplane spraying, which requires highly trained trick flyers who can maneuver at low altitudes and often train more than commercial pilots.  Aerial spraying can be used to manage weeds, but vigilance by those who work in the fields is needed as well.  Prof. ISAACS showed us a ‘Velvet Leaf’ or ‘Elephant Ear’, an example of a weed that when not handled properly and treated quickly, can result in a long-lasting problem- the plant contains large seed pods with up to 50 seeds that can go dormant for up to 50 years.  Another method was a deer management strategy in which the Fifer’s allow a set group of hunters to come in and kill deer for free at no liability to them under the State Quality Deer Management Program.  Mr. FIFER stated the greatest pest statewide would undoubtedly be the four-legged, white-tail deer- a herd can eat 30 acres of soybeans and 20acres of strawberries.

Additional challenges would be the paperwork and documentation that goes into processing. Every product must be labelled with a GN and LOT# for distribution.  The Fifer’s must pay $10, 000 for an audit, flying an inspector in from Idaho.  There are also additional expenses that must be covered for any new or changing government regulations- Mr. FIFIER stated that the family would often look for loopholes to avoid the intense scrutiny increasing regulations can bring.  Also, without a properly established market for their cultivars, like the Kohlrabi, the plants are just wasted space and must be tilled under to make way for a different crop next season.

Guest workers filling boxes with ice….
Mr. Kirk FIFER takes over…

One topic that has seemingly become the subject of every class discussion at some point is the sighting and eventual spread of the Spotted Lantern Fly.  Mr. FIFER said that although the invasive insect had found it’s way to Sussex County from Pennsylvania, they had yet to see the pest on their property, but as Prof. ISAACS reminded us, according to the rules of the Department of Agriculture it is up to the farmer to treat any known threats.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip. I would definitely like to come back to Fifer’s for the events as well as the interesting foods in the store that I didn’t get to try or purchase.  I was told there was boar, bear, and alligator jerky, and I saw a large selection of jams and jellies with inventive flavors I’d love to sample, but would have no clue how to use.

Hoobers

On Saturday October 12th our class had the chance to visit Hoobers in Middletown, DE. This is a family owned tractor supply company that has a few locations located around the Delmarva region. While at their largest location our class was able to take a small glimpse into their operation where they sell tractors, repair tractors, and sell parts. Furthermore, they sell lawn mowers and other equipment that can be used at consumers homes, businesses, and farms. It was interesting to see the available technology in tractors along with the wide range of equipment. Growing up with a family farm Hoobers was somewhere we took our Case tractors and got parts from so it was interesting to see a place I’ve grown up with incorporated into my college class. Lastly, I find it unique that Hoobers is specific on Case tractors over John Deere and the amount of books and blue prints in the maintenance section for older tractors. 

Hoober and Precision Agriculture

On Saturday October 12th, 2019 my Understanding Today’s Agriculture class took a field trip to Hoober Inc. in Middletown, Delaware. On this field trip we had the opportunity to witness precision agriculture firsthand. We spoke to employees at Hoober who informed us on the basic knowledge of precision agriculture and in the increase in technology in this industry. During the tour, our class got to experience drones and how they are used to manage fields. The class also had the chance to get behind the wheel of a self-driving tractor. These tractors use GPS to drive through the fields. They can drive up and down a field in a straight line without the operator having to focus on driving. This increase in technology allows the farmer to not over seed or spray in a field. This field trip really showed that agriculture is a very diverse industry.

 

Hoobers

Hoobers is a multi generational business that our class visited on the 11th of October. They have been a company since the mid 1900’s. There was a lecture about all of the equipment and a tour of the firm where we could see all the different types of machinery they use. Hoobers makes this machinery and sells it to to other farms so they can be successful in growing, planting crops, and maintaining crops.

Farming equipment is a big part of the agricultural industry. These machines are very useful but also expensive. Some of these pieces of technology are worth millions of dollars. Even though I was unable to make the trip, I enjoyed all of the pictures of students using the equipment and I wish I could have used them myself. Hoobers seems like a very successful business and is still doing well. They are doing so well because other farms need these pieces of equipment to be more productive in farming.

Hoober Inc

Hoober inc has been around since 1941 with locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware, their main focus is on maximizing their customer’s productivity. They do this by selling new and used farm equipment, providing part support and services and helping with growing precision agriculture technologies.  The Middletown Hoober Inc branch offers in-field services as well as an on-site shop for troubleshooting and repairs. Many of the technicians at Hoober are very skilled and love to work in the outdoors. The shop space still contains older work manual books for tractor models which the technicians say come in handy more than you would think. Out of recent technological improvements, Hoober’s popular item are technologies in automated steering for farm equipment. The main farming brand they support is CASE IH agriculture. This is what they feature because they believe the company has better durability, longevity and is cost-effective in parts replacement compared to other brands. Hoober has been there to support farmers and homeowners since 1941 and will continue to do so while keeping up to date on technological advances.

Hoobers

October 12th, 2019 the class took a field trip to Hoobers Farm. At Hoobers we learned all about the technology they use with their equipment. They gave us an opportunity to try it out. When we were given the chance to take a spin at the wheel, we saw firsthand how they drive and set their tractors to do their job. Hoobers has been going since 1941 and have nine locations scattered throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Delaware. They discussed how technology isn’t always dependent. Directing and setting a tractor is like using a cell phone. If the service is bad it is hard for the technology to want to operate. This can be a tremendous downfall on their work ethics. They put their customers first when it comes to productivity. They taught the class how to operate the tractors and the brands they use for all their equipment. They sell their equipment for construction purposes as well. They provide a lot. It was a very interesting field trip.