By Connor Lynch
Christmas is around the corner and that means Christmas shopping is even closer.
This year, Farmers Forum did some legwork and found some useful new ideas for the farmer in your life. Some of these ideas will bust the budget but they’re still pretty cool.
Kestrel 3500 Delta T Meter: A hand-held, waterproof, backlit wind meter that tells you when it’s safest to spray pesticides or herbicides and minimize drift. Detects wind speed, air temperature, average wind speed, barometric pressure, three-hour pressure trends, dew point, and the maximum wind gust.
Costs CDN $264, plus CDN $38 for shipping and CDN $244 for duty. Go to Kestrelmeters.com or call them at 248-270-8898.
Farm first aid kit:
Put together last year by the United States National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, this weather-proof first aid kit has farm injuries in mind. Apart from the usual gauze, bandages, and splints, this kit includes shears to cut a farmer out of overalls or work boots, eye wash solution to get pesticides or herbicides out of eyes, and a finger amputation kit. Price: CDN $52. Plus about CDN $50 to deliver to Ontario, plus duty fees of CDN $32. Email email@example.com, or call 888-844-6322.
Perten AM 5200 A: The modern farmer’s farm grain moisture tester. Figures out moisture content, test weight, and temperature reading in 10 seconds. Available in Ontario through Precision Calibration and Equipment in Florence, Ont., northeast of Chatham-Kent. Cost is just under $6,000. They ship across the province. Call them at 519-401-3500, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preg-Tone: A hand-held device that can tell you if an animal is pregnant. Works on practically every animal, from swine to alpacas. But does not work for larger animals like cattle. For that you need to spring for the Preg-Alert Pro, a bigger, more sophisticated, and more expensive version. The Preg-Tone is listed at CDN $662. The Preg-Alert Pro is CDN $2,056. Farmers Farmacy in Cambridge, Ont., will courier them out. Order online at www.farmersfarmacy.com or call 1-866-527-6229.
The MooMonitor: Available from Greenoak Equipment in Kitchener, the MooMonitor is a small collar that hangs off a cow’s neck that tells when she’s in heat. It has a range of 1 km to communicate with a computer or smartphone, and claims to have a battery life for each collar of 10 years. The company that produces the monitor is in the middle of price changes so these are the latest prices. The base station is $5,450. Each collar is $242.50 and annual costs per year to store and access data is about $11 per collar. Call Greenoak Equipment at 519-342-1427, or email them at email@example.com.
Trimble GreenSeeker: Coming in either a hand-held or boom-mounted version, the GreenSeeker scans your crops and determines if they’re getting enough nutrients. The boom-mounted version can also communicate with a variable rate controller to adjust the amount of fertilizer going out on the go. Base kit costs $500. GPS Ontario in North Gower, south of Ottawa, carries both models. They ship out the hand-held unit to anywhere in Ontario and will come and install a boom-mounted model anywhere in Ontario. Call them at 1-877-785-9346.
IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE:
New developments in technology are happening all the time, and farm technology is no exception. Ag drones are making headlines across the province, and driverless tractors are moving from the realm of fiction to fact. Here’s a few ideas that are still a few years away.
Fenceless cattle fencing: Still an experimental idea, but researchers in the United States are trying to get a reliable system to fence cattle with the electric collars that have become popular with dogs. The system was developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist Dean Anderson; it makes a virtual paddock that can be moved. Anderson made a working prototype, but it has yet to be commercialized.
The Clicrweight Livestock Weighing System: Currently in development in Florida and originally targeted at alligator farmers in Florida, the system uses cameras to weigh livestock, instead of scales. Handy for weighing a gator without having to get too close, but also helpful for a farmer who doesn’t need the wasted time or expense of taking an animal to be weighed. The system also aims to include cloud data storage, which would let farmers check weights on any kind of cattle they want on a daily basis.
Robotic bees: Fear in the United States about Colony Collapse Disease has spurred an unusual development; robotic bees. Intended to be a stopgap measure for pollinators while the U.S. tries to figure out a long-term solution for the loss of pollinators. Harvard University made the first working bee that took its maiden flight back in 2013. But it’s pretty far from being a viable technology. For one, the bees need to be plugged in because there currently isn’t a battery small enough to mount on the tiny robot that’s less than half the size of a paperclip and that weighs less than one-tenth of a gram.