Thought of the Week


“As a farmer, it makes me feel good
that all the long hours and risk we take to raise a crop
is appreciated by the public.”

-Drew Eggers, Farmer, Meridian, Idaho

Posted in Ag Production, Agvocacy and Social Media, Education, Farm Families, Farmers, Feeding the World, For Kids, Livestock Production, Ranchers | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week


Norman Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Photo source

“Anyone who can solve the problems of water
will be worthy of two Nobel prizes –
one for peace, and one for science.”

-President J.F.K.

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Why Farm Kids Make Great Employees

Inspired by the July 1, 2016 post by  Karly Hanson of  Editions and additions have been made to suit Kiss My Tractor.

Whether your’s is an agricultural business or you’re involved in a different sector of our economy, farm kids make great employees.  They possess a unique skill-set unlike other people.   These are the most important reasons why farm kids make great employees:

1.  Farm kids understand the importance of being on time.  
Farm kids know that time is of the essence and wasting daylight is not an option.  Even if they are five minutes late to feed, their calves and pigs will notice.  If their dad asks them to be ready for harvest at 5 am, they know that if they’re late, it will be hard on Dad and the rest of his crew.  They’ve been taught that 5 minutes early is “on time.”


2.  Respect is something they value more than anything.
Farm kids work hard.  They work hard on the farm, in class, on the ball court or in the show ring.  They practice hard, so that when they have earned the respect of the adults and peers in their life, they appreciate it.  Conversely, they understand that respect is to be given to others of their peers who have earned it, and also to those in authority.  They know that respect is earned or given, never taken for granted.

3.  A hard day’s work is the only way to work.
Farm kids are up to feed and do chores before they have their breakfast and go to school.  After piano lessons or ball practice, they’re often out in the field or barn until 10 pm, helping their mom and dad or working their own stock.  Most people know a 8 to 5 job; not kids raised on a farm.  They are accustomed to a 5 to 8 job, and they do it 110%.


4.  They can speak their mind eloquently.
Between preparing a speech for National 4-H Congress or practicing oral reasons for the next FFA Livestock Judging contest, these kids know what they want to say, the importance of what they are saying, and the way to deliver it.  You won’t have to worry about them talking to your customers or clients. In fact, you will most likely want them to do the talking on behalf of your business.


5.  They are willing to do the dirty work.
Whether they had to muck out the pig pen, clean the combine or the bathroom, farm kids understand that it all has to be done.  Their’s may not be the most fun or glorious job, but they will do it correctly, thoroughly, and with a good attitude.  They know that no person is too good for any job, big or small.

6.  You won’t meet someone more driven than a farm kid.
Farm kids strive for greatness every single day.  Many farm kids love to compete in contests- they know the tremendous preparation it takes to compete, and the thrill of winning, whether it’s being the star of the volleyball team, maintaining a 4.0 gpa or earning “best showman” at the breeding ewe show.


And it’s not always contests that drive farm kids.  It may be cutting short their prom to get the disking done, or helping Dad get the harvest in before the threatening clouds hit their family’s year’s crop.  Or it may be helping their neighbor in the same way, or their little sister with her school project.  Farm kids have had the support of their family, their teachers and advisors along the way, so they tend to strive for better every day.

7.  Their record keeping skills are on point.
Farm kids have kept records since they were little.  4-H record books began when they were 9 years old, showing the value of their project.  Then they went on to FFA in high school, where they learned digitized business record keeping.  Many of their awards, grades and degrees depend on detailed and quality records, so making sure your business has records worth winning state contests won’t be a problem at all.


8.  Farm kids are clean cut.  You won’t find a farm kid with ink, weird piercings, long shaggy hair or beards, or droopy drawers.  Sure, when they’re working they get dirty, dirty, dirty.  But after they’re shined up to go to town, you can count on their appearance to be tidy, with neat fitting clothes and trim hair.  

9.  They have experience in a variety of different areas.
Living on a farm has taught them a wide assortment of skills, from ag. economics to plant science to engine rebuilding to calf management.  Farm kids have to be resourceful, because sometimes if something breaks and must be repaired; if it’s 15 miles one-way to go to town, they may have to figure out how to fix it on the spot.  Although they might be the youngest person applying for the job, farm kids know how to do all kinds of practical and useful things, and what they don’t know they will learn very quickly.


10.  Farm kids are very polite.
They were raised with “Yes ma’am,” “No sir,” “Can I help you with that,” or “Let me get the door for you.”  Farm kids know that they represent more than themselves – they represent their families, their teachers, their community, their state, the U.S.of A., and the farming industry as a whole!

If you want to do your company or business a favor, hire a farm kid!


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Thought of the Week

Out here, water is like gold

-Ed Wiltse, Mayor of Ulysses, Kansas

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Thought of the Week

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit,
because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”

-Thomas Jefferson, 1787

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Thought of the Week

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

Posted in Thought of the Week, Work | Leave a comment

New Irrigation Technology for Today’s Farm

Back in the day, an animal-drawn plow was a pretty big deal. Then came horse-drawn combines, tractors, and all sorts of mechanized farm equipment. Now, farmers have access to a huge array of technologies that give exact data on weather, soil nutrient content, water usage, pests, disease, crop improvements, and many other factors in farming.


Broccoli being grown with very inefficient flood irrigation. Photo source

Tractors drive themselves using GPS, far-off pivots can be controlled from a phone, drones photograph fields and map pests and disease, and even the seeds produce more while requiring less water and fewer chemicals!

I was looking through the Spring, 2016 newsletter from Valley, a huge irrigation company. There are so many interesting new things! For example, one of Valley’s suppliers of pivot sprinkler heads has developed some brand new irrigation technology. Farmers can install sprinkler heads that operate at low water pressures to provide energy savings, and they throw out bigger water droplets  that are more wind-resistant, to reduce water being lost in the wind. Other sprinkler head attachments extend super close to the ground to save water when watering low-growing or new crops. That way, the water doesn’t get blown away! Another sprinkler head, called the “Bubbler,” can be used on extension poles and will “bubble” the water gently down directly into the furrow so that not even the crop leaves get wet.These heads allow 20% more water to reach the soil compared with spray irrigation!


Bubbler irrigation heads on dropped lines putting water right down in the furrows. Photo source

Irrigation pipe material is also changing. Farmers can choose from different materials, depending on the contents of their water. Farmers can have their water tested for any corrosive qualities, like pH, sulfates, chlorides, etc. Then they can choose galvanized steel pipes, or a newer type of pipe called PolySpan, which are more resistant to corrosive materials, and will last much longer than galvanized. PolySpan pipes are galvanized pipes with a coating of high density polyethylene, which will last indefinitely, and does not pass along any substance to the water running through it.

In-field moisture sensors are also a great tool to help farmers irrigate efficiently. The sensors are pushed into the ground at various spots and depths around the field. They measure how much water is in the soil, and can tell the farmer whether the water has separated to “available” or “unavailable.”

“Every soil holds a certain amount of water,” explains Ken Ferrie, a Farm Journal Field Agronomist. “How much is a function of soil texture—sand versus clay loam, for example. Some of that soil-water is available for crops and some isn’t.  Unavailable water is held so tightly to clay particles and organic matter so that microbial organisms and plants can’t strip it away.  While fine-textured soils, such as clays and clay loams have more water-holding capacity, they also contain more unavailable water than sandier soil.”

A sensor is placed in a field to measure water. Photo source

Farmers who use water sensors know exactly what is going on in their fields, and have the capacity to give the right amount of water the plants need. Both under-watering and over-watering stresses the plant and affects the quality and yield of the crop.

In Kansas, three new farms have been established by the Kansas Water Office with a focus on water conservation, in addition to crops and livestock. These farms are owned and farmed by farm families who are working with the state on this irrigation project. Parts of their farms are now demonstration areas that allow the latest irrigation technologies to be installed and tested on a large-scale working farm. The technologies used vary between the three farms, and are tailored to the needs and concerns of each farmer. At the end of the season, the crop yields, field health, and input usage will all be analyzed.


A pivot at work on one of Kansas’ water technology farms. Photo source

The Chinese are also making breakthroughs in irrigation technologies. The world’s most populated country is also one of the driest, and lacks abundant farmland. Water levels are way down, and inefficiencies in water usage abound. Agriculture is the biggest user of China’s water, so finding ways to conserve this resource is imperative to their economy.

In the past few years, agronomists in China have worked on developing “trace irrigation”, an underground system in which the roots have access to water, and pull only what they need. This new method uses capillary force to provide plants with enough water without drenching the ground from below.

PVC pipes are buried a foot or more under the ground, and the pipes get narrower, and narrower, until they’re like thin straws, with something that looks like a teeny showerhead at the end, with little white threads coming out of it. The plants pull water from these threads.


A trace irrigation test plot. Photo source

The inventor of the system, Zhu Jun, also developed a method for preventing build-up and clogging of the tiny threads, by using double-membrane filters that will work even at low water pressures.

Zhu’s system has been patented in several countries, and is undergoing testing in China. If it proves itself on a large-scale, it could mean big improvements in irrigation in China and around the world.

We get pretty excited about irrigation around here, and so does most any farmer you talk to. Water is often one of a farmer’s greatest concerns; any improvement in irrigation technology can mean big water savings. Good for our farmers, good for our environment, and good for consumers!

Here’s an interesting article with more information on China’s irrigation projects:


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Thought of the Week


“If you’re looking for my wife, find the dogs.
Wherever they are is where you’ll find her.”


Posted in Education, Thought of the Week, Women in Agriculture, Work | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

I find that my dogs’ opinion of me is greatly influenced as to whether or not I have food.

-The Readers’ Digest

Posted in #dogs, Education, For Kids, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

O Christmas Tree

Christmas is coming!  And our Christmas trees are happily growing, under a blanket of snow!  They have become the traditional focal point of our Christmas, and are an important part of American agriculture.

Christmas trees are grown in every state, planted on over 350,000 acres on 15,000 farms.  More than 77 million baby trees are planted each year, at 2,000 trees per acre.  Typically, three seedlings are planted for every tree harvested.  They normally take 6 to 8 years to grow to “Christmas tree” size.


A variety of Christmas trees on a farm in Washington. Photo source

The Christmas tree industry employs more than 100,000 people.  They transcend religion and culture.  They are a sensory experience that begins with the hunt for the perfect tree.  About 25 to 36 million real Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S., through more than 13 million tree lots.

Once that perfect tree comes home, the smell of fresh-cut fir or pine fills the house.  Ornaments are unpacked, heirlooms and mementos collected over the generations.  The lights are plugged in on the fully adorned tree, filling the home with a scent and sight to behold!


Christmas trees fresh from the farm. Photo source

Many Americans have lost interest in real Christmas trees.  Artificial trees of various types fill many homes.  Real Christmas trees outsell artificial trees two to one, and with good reason – they’re sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable!  But really, people don’t think of this as their reason – they’re thinking of the ritual, the smell, the tradition which they delight in re-living each year.

Merry Christmas!

-Capital Press, Dec. 25, 2015

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