Corn Farmers Coalition

Investing in Technology: Higher Yields, Fewer Inputs

John Scott (Odebolt, Iowa)

John Scott knows exactly how well each type of corn seed grows on his 1,500-acre farm.

Thanks to high-tech yield-monitoring equipment, which gives the farmer a real-time readout right in the cab of his combine, John can tell how much corn the big machine is scooping up (which, of course, also tells him foot-by-foot how much corn the land is yielding).

Coupled with a global positioning system, he can chart just how productive each part of the farm is - as many as 200 measurements per acre.

The equipment isn’t hugely expensive, but learning to use it correctly and then deploying it can be time-consuming.

It’s all worth it, though.

“Some of the yield-monitoring equipment,” says John, “gives us a good database on where different seed varieties perform best.”

John, 45, has been farming here outside Odebolt, Iowa, for 25 years, since he left community college. His family has farmed, he says simply, “forever.”

Odebolt, once the Popcorn Capital of the World, is nestled among the rolling corn and soybean fields of northwest Iowa. The town of 1,200 was voted the seventh-best place to live in rural America by Progressive Farmer magazine.

But these are troubled times for America’s small towns. Many are losing businesses and people as the nation becomes increasingly urbanized and farming becomes more mechanized, requiring fewer workers.

Yet John remains positive about agriculture, the value of hard work and the high technology that’s transformed farming over the last few decades.

“I have always been optimistic about agriculture in general.” After all, he says, “You get out of it what you put in it.”

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