Jim Mintert had lots of good questions when he emceed the panel of Master Farmers on Hal and Ty Brown's farm near Mulberry recently. Some of them were so good that you will likely be glad you weren't sitting in front of more than 200 farmers and friends waiting for your answer. Mintert is Extension specialist and associate Extension director at Purdue University in charge of agriculture and natural resources.
"We went from the horse in my grandfather's day to a 12-row when dad farmed to what we do today," says Kevin Cox, Brazil. "I'm not sure we can physically get much bigger on equipment and still transport it and physically handle it on many of our farms.
"I think the big advances in 5 to 10 years or maybe sooner will be coming in how we use inputs, not how much bigger equipment gets. Variable-rate placement of nutrients is here now and will probably get to be even bigger and more important thing soon. The placement of fertilizer is going to get more critical. We will get down to acre by acre farming and even get finer than that in the not-so-distant future."
David Ring, Huntingburg, agreed with Cox. Variable-rate will be important in his operation, and getting the most value from manure as possible will also be key. He and his son operate both a dairy and contract feeding turkey barns. Soil sampling will still be important and the technology will be more fine-tuned than it is today," Ring says.
"The truth is we can't predict what we will be doing or the techniques we will be using in even five years," says Ring, 67, also a Master Farmer, who has seen tremendous change already in his lifetime.
"There is no way to know what technology we might be using 10 years down the road from here."