This past Saturday, I spent the day at Hoobers! I was able to look at different type of precision AG machinery, such as auto-steer, and seed squirters. Seed Squirters are a way to get water to a plant without over watering and limiting the amount of diseases. I was also able to take a look at different types of machinery such as sprayers, tractors, and quadtracs. I was extremely excited to get to drive the sprayer, and I was blown away at the amount of technology inside the cab. To see how big and expensive these machines are, is truly amazing. People underestimate how hard it is to be a farmer, and to see the type of technology that they use and how complex it is, is very eye-opening. I very much enjoyed my time at Hoobers and I hope I’ll be able to visit again.
The last field trip we went on was to Hoober Equipment. Honestly, I think this was the most interesting trip we have been on so far. I did not know most of the information given on Saturday, whereas at Fifer’s Orchards, I did, being a Plant Science Major.
We started out the tour by hearing about the history behind the company, and how the two employees got to where they are now. Their business is very important in the ag industry, and precision ag is a phenomenal thing. We walked around and saw a lot of different machines, and they were all so big! Of course we got to see their toy- a drone! That was amazing; being able to have the drone survey the field while you spend your time doing something else. Before we left, we all got the opportunity to drive a machine, and here I am doing it!
On October 7th, 2017, my classmates and I had the opportunity to tour Hoober Inc. and witness the advances in technology that has helped progress agriculture as a whole. While there, we learned that a huge event that allowed for such a jump in technology for farming was the publics authorization to use satellites for GPS. This allowed for automatic steering, drones, and a lot of other precision ag advancements to come along, making farming much more economical, timely, environmentally friendly and efficient. It was really interesting to see how production agriculture has changed throughout the years as technology advanced. Hoober sells new and used equipment so we were able to witness how tractors and combines progressed. Another service Hoober provides is upgrading old equipment to practically brand new, up-to-date machinery. They basically take the “bones” of a piece of equipment and modify, update and upgrade the systems and mechanics of it – this is often more economical than outright buying a brand new piece of machinery. I could really tell that Hoober’s was in business for the right reasons and to really help their customers. It was great to see such an honorable business model.
This field trip that allowed us to not only see (and drive) some of their equipment, but also gave an interesting insight into the ever-changing industry and how that affects them as a business and their relationships with their customers. Before this class and being educated more about the world of agriculture, I never thought that the equipment used was so high-tech and complex and expanded well beyond a simple tractor, which is what I have always pictured. It amazed me how up and coming precision Ag is for this industry and all the benefits it provides. One thing that stood out to me was how complex this equipment was. There are mechanics that specialize in a single piece of equipment because there is so much in-depth things to know about how it is ran. It amazed me how there was a huge toolbox that contained $40,000 worth of tools, but the most crucial and main tool for a mechanic is his computer. I had no idea you were able to plug in a computer to a tractor, planter, combine, ect. and get a diagnostic reading on it to find out what is wrong with it. This just shows the advanced complexity of one of these machines. This goes to show the reasoning behind the large price tags on a machine, which was way more than I ever would have guessed. These machines are such a huge investment for a farmer, such as a $400,000 combine complex, which enlightened me on the importance of such a great relationship that is needed between Hoober and their customers, since it does go well beyond just the purchase. Learning about the precision Ag details and benefits was excitingly informative, but driving a tractor was the best part of the trip! Not only were the machine way larger and more expensive than I would have guessed, but the technological enhancements that even I was able to notice during my quick drive was amazing. This field trip was very enjoyable, and like the others, showed another side of agriculture that I was not familiar with prior!
This past Saturday I was able to take a fascinating field trip to Hoobers with my Agricultural Class. It started with learning a little history about Hoobers and what precision ag really entails. We learned that the sprayer is one of their most promote and popular precision ag pieces sold. Speaking of the sprayer many of students were lucky enough to operate the piece of equipment including myself. While precision ag is a part of agriculture that will only get larger it does bring challenging aspects to the table such as data management and keeping up with all the new advancements in technology.
My favorite part of the trip was actually getting to see drones in action and learning about all the new advancements and ways to use drones in agriculture. It was interesting to hear that a license is actually required to operate these drones.
I believe precision ag will continue to get larger and advance. I also believe it will create many available careers in the future. Hoobers was overall a great experience and showed me a part of agricultural I did not realize was getting so large and in demand for the increasing population.
When people think of Delaware, there are usually two thoughts that first occur: “DelaWHERE?” or “The beach!” However, neither of these thoughts consider Delaware’s #1 industry of agriculture, which greatly contributes to our nation’s food supply. Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Kee, made sure to clarify this fact for our class, informing us that Delaware first and foremost is an agricultural state. In fact, our little state of Delaware can reach 1/3 of the entire country’s population within 8 hours, allowing Delaware to be a “food shed” of the east coast! A food shed simply means a region or area that produces food for a certain population. As we all know, Delaware is a major poultry producer of the United States. In addition, though, Delaware is also able to produce and sell vegetables (processed or fresh) up and down the east coast, and of course locally. Lima beans are Delaware’s #1 crop, holding the most acreage. Within Delaware alone, there are three main processing companies: PicSweet, J.G. Townsend, and Hanover Foods. These processors utilize crops from over 41,000 acres and providing 2,400 jobs in our community. By processing the crops produced, such as lima beans, sweet corn, peas, and pickles, the agricultural industry is enhanced. Processing crops allows for added crop diversity, more jobs for the community, and overall a stronger agricultural economy!
I was recently fortunate enough to hear two guest lectures from Mr. Ed Kee. His first lecture taught us students about Delaware Ag and its importance to the food shed. Mr. Kee spoke about many things including that Delaware is located within 8 hours of 1/3 of the population, which puts Delaware at a high advantage even with its small size. Delaware also has 115,000 of land being preserved so it will stay farmland forever; this will allow many businesses to stay in business for many years to come. The agriculture industry has $6-$7 billion dollars of economic activity in Delaware which makes it a large commodity for Delaware as well as the Eastern United States. Mr. Kees second lecture explained Iowa and California Agriculture. I found this lecture very interesting because it put more into perspective about farming in the United States and helped me compare Delawares agriculture practices to those in other states. Iowa has great soil because of the moisture it can hold and its fertility. California agriculture is all about water and farmers grow crops to gain the most profit relative to what they pay for water. After listening to both lectures from Mr. Kee I feel I’ve gained an abundance of knowledge about not only Delaware agriculture but Iowa and California agriculture and thank him very much for sharing his wealth of knowledge with us students.
Last Saturday, I took a trip to Fifers Orchard. I was thoroughly impressed at the size of their production. I had been previously under the impression that Fifers was a small little produce stand with only a couple acres of land. I very much enjoyed seeing the different types of crops they grew and I was very surprised to learn that their were many different types of one specific crop, such as orange, green, and purple cauliflower. Being able to look at the type of distribution center, I was so excited to see how things worked within the company. Speaking to the family members was also extremely interesting because I never realized how important it was that each person had their own specific job and made sure that their job was completed with great competence. I was also interested in the idea that you were able to buy not only fruits and vegetables, but other types of homemade products such as jams, pies, and seasonings. Seeing this type of production system was extremely important to my understanding about how family farms are run and to see them work cohesively and produce the best products for their consumers.
Our recent trip to Fifer Orchards was very interesting. It was the first time that I’ve been behind the scenes at an orchard or farm of that size, and I thought it was an incredible operation. We drove out to a field which was growing kale and broccoli first, and learned about how they are grown; as well as challenge like disease,insects and the weather. I also learned about the purpose of raised beds when growing strawberries. The purpose of the raised beds is to keep the crop out of the water, and control the amount of irrigation they are getting. After seeing some of Fifer Orchards’ fields, we went and saw the apple orchard. They currently grow over 20 types of apples, and make many of their own products with those apples. They also ship the apples all over the east coast. Finally, we saw their packing area and cold storage. They have a machine that can separate good and bad apples, tomatoes, and peaches through a computer program. It was amazing to see what a large operation Fifer Orchards is and to learn about agriculture and business aspects of running a farm like that.
Saturday, 9/23 our class visited the Fifer Orchard around Dover, DE. On the way there, I was wondering why we did not just go around the corner to see Milburn Orchards; they have apples and awesome apple cider too! It all made sense when we got there though.
Fifer Orchards was huge, and we were given a pamphlet listing all the fruits and vegetables they grew. I never imagined it would be that much. When taken to some vegetable fields, I was surprised that they not only grew traditional cauliflower, but they grew cheddar cauliflower, explained that it had beta-carotene in it, and purple cauliflower because the consumers asked for it!
It was great applying other classes to the field trip as well. Pictured here is drip irrigation in strawberries, which I learned the benefits about in PLSC204!
Of course we ended the trip with a trip to the market; the apple cider slushies were to die for!
When hearing the term, “family farm,” I never imagine anything to the scale or national success that I witnessed at Fifer’s Orchards. Fifer’s Orchards is a fourth generation family farm, starting in the 1900s with 200-300 acres. Since then, the Fifer family has expanded and developed their orchards into just under 3000 acres of land tilled.
Being from a city in Connecticut, my knowledge of crops basically went as far as the grocery store before coming to the University of Delaware. The opportunity to tour a farm of such magnitude helped to further my knowledge, and I was truly amazed with each thing I learned. Strawberries are one of the main crops grown on Fifer’s land, and they are planted in raised beds. This is to keep the beds up above water that may naturally collect in the field, and the plastic covering surrounding the beds allows better heat conservation and transfer when it is appropriate. Even more interesting is that each bed has a drip tube irrigation system running within it, which allows the plants to receive the water that they need without subjecting the body of the plant to the diseases and pests that can come along with traditional crop watering. Once these strawberries are mature, they are handpicked, and sent up and down the East Coast.
One of the best things about Fifer’s Orchards is that while they are a million dollar business, they still keep their local community in mind. In fact, on the weekend we visited, Fifer’s was actually having the first weekend of its annual six week Fall Festival. In addition the this festival, Fifer’s Orchards reaches out to and serves the community through the Community Supported Agriculture program they run twice a year. This program allows families and individuals to sign up to receive a weekly box of Fifer’s produce and other locally grown or raised food products. There are pick up locations throughout Delmarva, and the program runs May-Labor Day and November-Christmas. The boxes come in large, small, or customized, and it is a great way to not only get your groceries, but also ensure you’re eating healthy while supporting local businesses!