IDEAg: Keeping the conversation going

The IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference brought together farmers, agribusiness leaders, and the technologies that will be used for an interconnected future in agriculture. Cygnus Business Media’s Vice President, Group Show Director Ray Bianchi told Brownfield that attendees, as a community, are really committed to the ability to use these technologies on their farms.

The long-term goal of Cygnus Business Media is to make conference content available to a broader audience and keep the conversation going forward.

A second IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference is scheduled for June of 2013. Bianci said they are looking at launching events in Miami, Fla., India and Brazil.

Check the website

Conversation with Ray Bianci 06272012 for information.


‘Not just an event; it’s a process’

Matt Bechdol was one of the individuals responsible for program content at the recent IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa.  

Bechdol is the founder and president of GeoSilos, a consulting firm focused on leveraging place-based solutions for food and agriculture challenges. 

As the conference came to a close, we asked Bechdol if he was pleased with the event.   He called it “a good start”.

AUDIO: Matt Bechdol (3:20 MP3)


Technology’s role in feeding the world

Ted McKinney is director of global corporate affairs for Elanco Animal Health.  At the recent IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa, McKinney talked about the importance of technology and innovation in helping farmers feed a growing global population.  Brownfield’s Ken Anderson visited with McKinney about that topic.

AUDIO: Ted McKinney (8:07 MP3)


Boehlje’s thoughts on the ag economy

Dr. Michael Boehlje, distinguished professor of ag economics at Purdue University, is one of most respected ag economists in the country.  He spoke at the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa this week. 

In an interview with Brownfield’s Ken Anderson, Boehlje talked about how today’s ag economy compares with that of the 1970’s, and whether a repeat of the 1980’s is a possibility;  the potential long-term impact of what could be a very damaging drought; and three factors that could negatively impact the ag economy over the next couple of years.

AUDIO: Dr. Michael Boehlje (6:02 MP3)


How will we fix our ‘crumbling’ infrastructure?

America’s roads and rivers infrastructure continues to deteriorate.  The federal government is broke, and state and local governments are struggling to keep up.  So what’s the answer to rebuilding our crumbling transportation systems?  Is the U.S. ag industry in danger of losing its competitive edge in global markets because of it.  We put those questions to transportation expert Ken Eriksen, a senior vice president with Informa Economics, who was one of the speakers at the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa.

AUDIO: Ken Eriksen (10:26 MP3)

Understanding ‘interconnected’ consumers

On Wednesday—day 2 of the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa—the focus was on the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture on a local, national and global level.  Terry Fleck, executive director of the Center for Food Integrity gave a presentation entitled “Challenges and Opportunities of Interconnected Consumers”.   Afterwards, we visited with Fleck about the trends they’re seeing in consumer attitudes about farmers and ranchers, and the U.S. food system.

AUDIO: Terry Fleck (7:55 MP3)


Consultant: Timely information is key

Nicky Burgess is a farmer and precision ag technology consultant from Alamo, Tennessee.  His company is called Solstice Crop Management.

In an interview with Brownfield at the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference, Burgess talked about some of the challenges he faces.  One of those is getting information back to the decision-makers in a timely manner—and Burgess says he is encouraged to see the interaction taking place between technology providers at this conference.

AUDIO: Nicky Burgess (3:28 MP3)


Agronomist hopes for better collaboration

The agronomists and soil scientists who provide variable rate fertilizer services to farmers have been active participants in this first-ever IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference.  As Greg Ikins of United Soils, Inc. of Fairbury, Illinois told us, moving data from one data platform to another has been a major problem—and he hopes this conference will lead to more collaboration between technology providers.

AUDIO: Greg Ikins (5:54 MP3)


AT&T official warns of ‘spectrum crisis’

Wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, are warning of an impending “spectrum crisis”.

They say the federal government needs to act quickly to free up wireless spectrum so they can handle the explosion in mobile data traffic growth that has occurred in recent years.  Unless that happens quickly, those companies say the result will be slower or spotty connections.

In an interview with Brownfield at this week’s IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference, AT&T regional vice president for external affairs, Beth Canuteson, said that her company has seen a 20,000 percent increase in data traffic in the past five years.  And she says it’s estimated if data usage continues to climb at the current pace, the wireless carriers will run out of spectrum in seven years.

The solution, Canuteson says, is for the FCC to accelerate its plan to free up more wireless spectrum.

AUDIO: Beth Canuteson (5:55 MP3)

It should be noted that not everyone agrees that a crisis is imminent.  Some scientists and engineers accuse the major wireless companies of being overly-dramatic about the situation.   They say those companies are simply trying to protect their business from competitors.

Conference draws foreign visitors

Some of the participants in this week’s IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference have come here from other countries.  Matthew Perkins traveled here from Zurich, Switzerland, where he is developing a new social media platform that will allow farmers to connect with other farmers—as he puts it, “to their peer group, their relative community”—to share tips and information about what works and what doesn’t work on their farms.  We visited with Perkins about the new service called Yield Pop.

AUDIO: Matthew Perkins (3:02 MP3)