Going to Hoober was a tremendous educational experience where we got to look at what precision in agriculture truly gets involved with. We learned how important technology is and how much technology has changed throughout the years. It’s crazy to think that we have gone from human steering with a blind eye to a more accurate read with GPS steering. Some combines even come with automatic steering, making it virtually possible for a farmer to just push a button from their desk on a home computer and the tractor will go all by itself in the field, essentially allowing farmers to have an efficient farm. Seeing the drone fly up in the air and cover a lot of ground was amazing and to hear that they not only detect problems with crop growth and deficiency in nutrients but to are able to spray for pesticides which takes less time and management. Using a drone and new automatic sprayers for spraying pesticides also increases safety precautions, where the newer models with GPS will automatically shut off, not overlapping pesticides. Getting to ride the tractor, was amazing, not only for fulfilling a goal of mine in taking Agricultural classes but grasping the complete perspective of farming and to see how technology impacts a farmer’s profit. Overall, Hoober Farms gave us an educational impact by teaching us how farmers greatly need technology. If farmers did not have the opportunity to fly a drone around their property learning things like plant nutrition, growth patterns and possible shortages on their farm they would need more laborers, making their business less efficiency, causing them to produce a lower income.
Our trip to Hoober opened my eyes to the direction agriculture will take for the next generation of farmers. The fact that a new combine without any additions costs roughly $400,000 is mind-blowing. It’s hard to imagine that a piece of farm equipment can cost more than a house; which shows the opportunities for monetary success in the field of agriculture. With many new tractors, combines, and sprayers already having built-in automatic steering, it will be nearly impossible to do any large scale farming in the future without incorporating Precision AG. The drone demonstration was extremely interesting, especially the ability of more expensive drones to track nutrients, plant stress, moisture, and other important pieces of data. The accident prevention feature of the drone was awesome to witness in person. I imagine in twenty years we will forget what it was like to drive a tractor manually or to scout a field on foot.
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!