The Indiana Farm Management Tour begins at midday on Tuesday, June 23 and concludes after lunch on Wednesday, June 24. The stops this year will be in Jay and Adams Counties.
The Indiana Farm Management Tour is a driving tour. You can attend all the farms, or only the ones you wish to attend. There is also an evening program at Jay County High School, featuring the Master Farmer award ceremonies, and a panel discussion with the new class of Master Farmers.
The Master Farmer program in Indiana is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
You can get more exact times, which are still somewhat in flux, and driving directions by contacting your Extension office, or Googling Indiana Farm Management Tour. Michael Langemeier and Jim Mintert of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture are facilitating the tour.
While the order of visits was not set in concrete, here's the likely order: IOM Grain near Portland; Johnson Farms, Redkey; evening program, Jay County High School; Sommers and Beer joint stop, Berne, Wednesday a.m.; and Nidlinger Farms, Decatur, noon with Chris Hurt talk.
Take a closer look at the Indiana Farm Management tour stops >>
No chickens! The Web Exclusive promo box promised chickens on the tour, but there won't be any chickens. Concerns about the avian flu spreading across the Corn Belt led to the decision to not visit the chicken farm this year. The concern across Indiana is to follow biosecurity practices and not unnecessarily risk transmission of the disease.
Specialty grain stop: The tour will likely begin at IOM Grain near both Portland and the Indiana/Ohio State line. Ray Loucks operates the business, which provides identity-preserved soybeans to buyers around the world. There is a bank of clocks in his office for a reason – he needs to know what time it is where his customers are located.
Meet the Johnson family: The tour swings south to Redkey in Jay County to visit Matt Johnson, his dad, Thomas, and Matt's son, Zachary. It's a grain operation, and part of the focus will be on Zachary preparing to enter the business. The stop also features a look at their relatively new state-of-the-art indoor fertilizer storage dike, with fiberglass tanks inside the dike area.
Old tractor lovers: Make sure to ask any of the Jonhsons to see their restored and partly restored antique tractors. Their collection includes WC orange tractors, plus this green one they are working on currently. Zachary is in charge of this project.
Milking cows: When you think of someone milking cows, you picture someone in a milk parlor putting milking teat cups on a cow. Lance Sommers, Berne, is milking, sitting right here at his computer! Read on to find out how.
Robots at work: Lance Sommers can milk without being near a cow because five robotic milkers allow the cows to milk themselves whenever they are ready. This well-managed dairy farm now averages 3.1 milkings per day since the cows can access the robotic milkers when they want, within certain pre-set time limits.
Cutest robot ever! This little guy does a very big job. It travels up and down the aisle on its own, brushing feed back up so that cows can eat it. It looks like R2D2 out of Star Wars, but it works. See it on the Sommers farm.
Who chops the feed? These huge piles of forage are at the Sommers dairy farm. However, they don't own any forage harvesting equipment. They trade labor with Max Beer and sons Craig and Keith, doing their spraying and combining in exchange for silage and hay harvesting.
Niche market: Max Beer and sons Craig (pictured) and Keith raise heifers and freshen them, then sell them to large dairies. The large dairies prefer having someone else freshen the heifers and get them started on milking before buying them.
Energy and sunlight design: You don't have to milk cows or raise calves to appreciate the design of this calf barn. Max Beer designed it to capture solar energy, and let as much light as possible in for calves to use.
New toolshed and diking system: Visitors to Nidlinger Farms will see a just-completed tool shed. They can also view storage dikes just installed on the farm.
Dry fertilizer system: John Nidlinger and his son, J.D., say this dry fertilizer storage and mixing facility makes blending and applying fertilizer much more efficient.