Monday, April 13, 2015

Purdue's Ag Week: Why It Matters

In the world of agriculture, we talk a lot about the misconceptions, fear, and questions that exist from those not related to the industry.  Four years ago, there was a group of students that decided to try and bridge the gap. 

At Purdue, State Street draws a line through campus just south of the Purdue Memorial Union.  Most of campus lies to the north of this street, but on the south side is the Krannert School of Management and the rest is largely the College of Agriculture.  As you could imagine, this leads to a division of sorts.  On the "South Side," you can discuss genetically modified crops, nitrogen leaching, AI, cattle sales, and tractor parts, and rarely will you see anyone look just too lost.  Once you cross the street, it is a different discussion. 

During Ag Week, the college of agriculture, and some 20 + student organizations work across the entire Purdue campus to have a presence.  Some groups bring in animals, the Dairy Club gives away grilled cheese sandwiches and milk on #MilkMonday, for example.  The Collegiate FFA has now hosted a "Farmer 5K" on the Sunday prior to Ag Week as a kickoff event for two years. 

This is the list of all events for this week.  Our goal is to open a door for other students to feel that they can come to us with their questions, concerns, doubts, and if they wish, maybe even learn something.  The Ag Week Task Force does not set out to go "teach people."  They set out to help others see our College of Ag and students as a resource. 

Why does Ag Week matter?  In my opinion, it lets non-ag friends put a face to the words "farming" and "food production."  Those words can be scary, I'll be honest.  If you're not directly related to farming and someone tells you, "Did you know they keep pigs in buildings?!  They don't get to go outside!"  That doesn't sound fun.  By giving you the face of a person who raises those animals, they can speak firsthand to why we do some of the things we do, and why that improves the life of the animal.  We want to be a resource for you, since we do raise the meals you eat three times a day, 365 days a year.  

I hope you enjoy Purdue Ag Week (If you will be on campus).  If you are not going to be at Purdue, make sure to check out Purdue Ag Week on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (all are hyperlinks).  We are all working to "mAGnify" agriculture!

**This post reflects the views of Samuel Ebenkamp and may not reflect the views of Purdue Ag Week or Purdue University, and was not written in conjunction with either group.**

Have a great Monday!

You can follow along on my social media sites, and send any of your questions to  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Signs of Springtime at the Farm

Try to contain your excitement, because we are in Indiana, and flooding/potential snow isn't totally impossible, but spring has begun!

What does spring mean on a pig and grain farm?  I'll cover five of my favorites.

1. Babies!  Well, piglets is a more appropriate term I suppose.  We have piglets every even numbered month right around the 15th.  To learn more about our sows, you can read my post from last year, Miss Peggy Sue and You.

2.  Fertilization!  I mean, it can be a slightly 'crappy' job some days, but hauling manure is a way of using manure from the winter months as a fertilizer on our crops.  I talk a good bit about manure and manure management.  Check out my posts, Hitching up the Honey Wagon, and Manure Management: Not Just a Load of Crap.  Nutrient management is a very important thing to us.  We have hefty regulations to follow, ensuring we do not let nutrients get too high in any field.  With pigs, one of our biggest concern nutrients is phosphorous.  We have soil testing done regularly to keep us alert of areas that could potentially become issues.

Sometimes we even get to watch a nice sunset while loading!
Used with permission from Mackinson Dairy.

3. Burn Down.  It's not quite what you may think because nothing gets lit on fire.  I have talked about cover crops in the past.  We drill cereal rye cover crops in the fall as a way to build a root system that will hold the soil in place during the winter months.  In the spring, it looks like this picture I took a while back.  Currently, it is much taller, and looks more like a lawn planted in 7.5" rows.
We then spray a glyphosate chemical, Touchdown, by Syngenta, as a means of killing off the cereal rye. 

4. Corn, corn, corn, corn, corn.  Welcome to Indiana! (and most of the Midwest).  There's just something exciting about finally getting a planter in the field.  As you can see in the bottom photo, as of last week, the planter had not moved to our shop for it's spring checkup yet.  With the creek really high, the ground really wet, and temperatures still lower, we aren't in a huge hurry to plant just yet.

The planter is just chilling for now, but not for long!

5. Soybeans are the other major part of our cropping operation.  I have always liked soybeans a lot, for some unknown reason.  It may have something to do with the fact that we drill with my favorite tractor, the International 7110 Magnum.  We drill soybeans with a 15 foot John Deere drill, in 7.5" spacings.  These are all things we figure into our seed choices.  Keep an eye out for a post on seed choices.

I hope you're all out enjoying this spring weather - sorry if you're currently swimming with all the rain this last week in Indiana and Illinois specifically.

Stick with me as we get moving into spring!

You can follow along on my social media sites, and send any of your questions to