Hi-tech systems on display at Indiana Farm Management Tour

planting corn

By Keith Robinson
May 17, 2013

Today's large-acreage farmers can't be everywhere at once on their sprawling operations, but a farm family featured in this year's Purdue Extension Farm Management Tour comes close.

Gary and Larry Neal of rural Frankfort use logistics and inventory management technology to monitor various parts of their farm operation from remote locations. The Neal farm is one of five Clinton County operations on the 81st annual tour, scheduled for June 26 and 27.

Tour visitors also will see farms that specialize in pork products, grow cover crops and non-genetically modified corn, practice no-till crop production, and run a custom manure-application business. Tour stops are free, with complimentary lunches provided each day for those registering in advance. The Indiana Prairie FarmerMaster Farmer Banquet takes place June 26 and costs $25 per person.

The tour, hosted by Purdue's Department of Agricultural Economics, showcases successful farms across Indiana, said Alan Miller, Purdue farm business management specialist and tour coordinator.

"We've got a diverse collection of farms on this year's Farm Management Tour that I think are very interesting," Miller said. "Those who attend will go away with ideas they might implement on their own farms."

The Neal farm should provide plenty of food for thought.

"They've been able to tie together the information that's available at different units of their farm and account for all of the product they're producing," Miller said. "For example, they are able to manage the grain drying process right from the cab of their combine so that they don't actually have to go to the bins to check the drying."

The Neals also have modified their farm machinery to improve productivity and have a center pivot irrigation system on part of their cropland. Tour visitors will get to see both at 8 a.m. EDT June 27. The Neal farm is at 492 N. County Road 200 W, Frankfort.

Other tour times, stops and activities:

* June 26, noon, Jay Hawley Farm, 7628 E. County Road 500 S, Kirklin. Jay and Sue Hawley run a 720-acre crop farm and 250-sow farrow-to-feeder pig operation as independent pork producers. The Hawleys sell ground pork at central Indiana farmers' markets and through retail restaurants under the Grandpa Jay's Pork brand. They also grow food-grade corn and soybean seed. The tour stop begins with lunch followed by a tour program at 1 p.m.

* June 26, 3:30 p.m., Windy Lane Farms, 6147 N. County Road 500 W, Mulberry. The Hal and Ty Brown families are fifth- and sixth-generation farmers, respectively. They grow corn, soybeans and cover crops, and run seed and machinery dealerships. The Browns built a three-story office and parts/service building, and converted a confinement hog barn into a machinery storage facility.

* June 26, 5:15 p.m., Indiana Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Banquet, at Windy Lane Farms. Registration deadline is June 19 and can be completed by calling the Purdue Ag Alumni Association at 765-494-8593. No tickets will be sold the day of the event.

* June 27, 10 a.m., Kent and Jeff Need Farms, 5792 N. County Road 0 EW, Frankfort. Kent and his nephew Jeff farm in a joint venture where crops are produced and stored together but sold separately. The Needs are able to manage their no-till and cover crops production efficiently by using the latest technology, which they often test in pilot programs. Kent's brothers, Jim and Dave, contribute to the farm operation while holding down other full-time jobs. Jeff is also a full-time firefighter.

* June 27, noon, Meadow Lane Farms, 4249 N. County Road 450 W, Frankfort. Mike Beard, son David and son-in-law Chris Pearson raise 1,900 acres of crops and 33,000 finished hogs on contract while also operating a custom manure-application business. The tour stop begins with lunch followed by an agricultural outlook update by Purdue agricultural economist Chris Hurt and then a tour program.

For more information about the Farm Management Tour or to register for tour stop lunches, visit the event website at http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/commercialag/progevents/tour.html or call 765-494-4310. Registration deadline for lunches is June 19.

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