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January, 2014

  1. Faith in the workplace

    January 17, 2014 by Peter

    Some of you know that I spent a portion of my life working on the mission field.  In that place, faith and Christian community were central to life.  People prayed for each other, they were called there with a sense of purpose, and walked together in faith.  When I moved back to the United States, I was presented with several choices for the next steps in my career.  An important part of that decision-making process for me was how my faith and personal ministry would be impacted by the decision.  Do I go work for a major corporation in IT work?  Do I continue working in youth ministry?  Is there another path that I’m not considering?

    As I spent time thinking and praying about this next step, a realization came to me.  No matter what type of work you do, the people around you are a mission field.  You may be a farmer sitting on a tractor, or a high-ranking industry executive, but each of us has a circle of influence among the people that are around us.  We all have friends, family, vendors and sometimes customers that we interact with on a day-to-day basis.

    I considered my options and went into the IT world.  Through continued thought and reflection, I decided to get involved with the farm again via the seed business.  Both areas have been a blessing and challenge for me.  Each day I challenge myself with these thoughts:  Is my integrity intact?  Am I acting on opportunities to pray for my co-workers and customers?  What type of legacy am I leaving behind?

    Is my integrity intact?

    There are many ways a person can damage or jeopardize his or her integrity.  I have chosen to surround myself with godly men and women who will challenge me if I’m veering in the wrong direction or provide wisdom and discernment when asked.  I also try to remain anchored in the truth of God through prayer and spending time in His word…some days are better than others on that point but it’s what I go back to when I’m seeking the truth.

    Am I acting on opportunities to pray for my co-workers and customers?

    I have a customer list and prospect list that I pray for.  Farming is difficult business with many risks and things outside of one’s control that can impact the success or failure of the year.  I pray for my customers and prospects from time to time so that they might be encouraged and hold fast to their faith (or come to faith if they aren’t there yet).  Same goes for co-workers.  We all come to our job with different “stuff” that is affecting our lives for better or worse.

    What type of legacy am I leaving behind?

    It’s inevitable that I will at some point leave my job and/or business behind.  It may be for a new challenge, retirement, or the final retirement in the sky…but at that point, what will have been accomplished?  I hope more than growing a business to $XX volume or achieving a certain “rung” of success on a corporate ladder.  One article that I have printed out, and go back to often in my life was written in 2010 by Clayton M. Christensen for the Harvard Business Review.  The title of the article is “How will you measure your life?”  This is a fair and valid question.  Is it a question that you’re asking and planning?  What are some of the ways you try to incorporate the above into your life?


  2. GM Crops, Trait Approvals and LLPs, Oh My!

    January 9, 2014 by Peter

    I read an interesting article this morning (read it here:  http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/22430/) about Syngenta waiting for China to approve a certain GM trait, and wanted to share it with a few thoughts about the process.

    Photo courtesy of the LA Times article and (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg)

    One of the interesting things about GM crops is the approval process traits go through before they are released to the market.  One of the more interesting (or some might say frustrating) aspects of this process is the approval for export to other countries.  Because grain varieties become intermingled from the time of harvest to export, companies have to be very careful about which traits are released so they don’t cause loads of an export to be rejected at a country’s border.

    Recently China rejected two loads of corn (546,000 tons!) (see the article here:  http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-china-rejects-shipment-of-gmo-corn-20131227,0,2126813.story#axzz2puYBqI33) because it contained genetically modified corn that wasn’t approved by them.  So you can imagine that there is much at stake when developing traits and putting them into the market for production.

    Oftentimes countries will establish an agreement of Low-Level Presence of GM traits because the reality is, with the grain market and infrastructure the way it is, there is bound to be an intermingling of GM and conventional commodities.  Croplife.org has a great article describing the process and some of the issues faced by different groups and countries involved in commodity trading.  http://www.croplife.org/low_level_presence

     

     


  3. Thinking about a UAS system for your farm?

    January 3, 2014 by Peter

    This past year has been a fun adventure for me as an ag retailer! One of the additions to our team has been very valuable. Words I would use to describe this addition would be: dependable, useful, able to provide a new perspective, and fun to be around!

    In case you’re wondering, I’m not talking about a new employee. I am referring to a UAS system that we purchased for use on the farm. You may be wondering what a UAS system is. I’ve received many questions from growers, ag retailers and others about what they are, how they can be used, and where you can purchase them. Hopefully this post will be a good compilation of that knowledge and answer some basic questions.  I’ll put them here in no particular order.

    1.  What does UAS mean?  

    UAS refers to a “Unmanned Aerial System”.  These have also been referred to as “drones” but I try to avoid that word, as it misleads people and can lead to misunderstandings.

    2. What type of UAS systems are there on the market?

    There are many systems available, depending on your needs and budget.  I’d like to focus on one particular brand and model, as I think it’s a great starter package that will be applicable to most people who read this article.

    3.  Which system are you going to talk about?  

    Great question!  The model that I purchased and use is the DJI Phantom.  This is a great starter system with powerful  features for beginners and experts alike.

    4.  What are some ways you use this on your operation?

    I’ve used this on a trial basis for aerial scouting and imagery.  You can quickly get an aerial view of a field with both pictures and video to identify all sorts of issues:  stand, weeds, etc.

     5.  What type of accessories should I buy with it?

    I highly recommend buying the following accessories with the Phantom initially:  extra batteries (at least 3), a travel case, GoPro camera (silver or black), a good charger, a battery checker (so you can see what charge the battery has before starting flight!), extra batteries for your camera, and an SD card for the camera.

    6.  How much does it cost?  

    The system I bought cost about $1000.  The Phantom was about $450, case was $225, camera was about $200, batteries cost $100, then taxes/shipping.

    7.  How long do the batteries last?  What type of range does it have?

    The batteries last 8-13 minutes, depending on what you’re carrying (camera, gimbal, etc) and also depending on how much you maneuver or the wind conditions.  The controller has a 1000m range, but I don’t fly that far away because it becomes difficult to see it!  The unit is really fun to fly at dusk, there are LED lights on the bottom that make it easy to see and tell which direction is facing front.

    For some example pictures of flights I have done, please check out the gallery on www.schottfarms.com.  Also check out a video I put on youtube of soybean harvest:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-ooXpmy2PM

      

    More to come including:  first flight tips/tricks, maintaining your Phantom, features/other considerations, and more!

    Questions?  Comments?  Send me an e-mail or talk to me on twitter – @peetnd.