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Published August 03, 2010, 09:16 AM

AdFarm makes annual visit to ND farm

ANETA, N.D. — Jim Broten has seen a lot of changes in agriculture through the years, including farm equipment that keeps getting bigger.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

ANETA, N.D. — Jim Broten has seen a lot of changes in agriculture through the years, including farm equipment that keeps getting bigger.

“Our combine hoppers (today) hold more grain than the trucks did when I was a kid,” the North Dakota farmer and businessman says.

Broten was among the speakers during the annual AdFarm tour July 21 of the Fred Lukens farm near Aneta, N.D.

AdFarm is a full-service marketing and communications company that focuses on agriculture, food and rural issues. It has offices in five cities, including Fargo, N.D., and Calgary, Alberta.

The company partners with farms in Aneta, about 100 miles northwest of Fargo, and Vulcan, Alberta.

About 50 people, many of them AdFarm employees, toured the farm of Lukens, who once headed Simmons Advertising in Grand Forks, N.D. He now serves as an AdFarm consultant in addition to operating the farm.

The tour provided the AdFarm employees with practical information about modern-day agriculture. Topics included grain handling, the business of seed production and using chemical to increase yields and quality in small grains.

Bigger farms, more corn

Broten, a Dazey, N.D., farmer, owns Sheyenne Tooling and Manufacturing in Cooperstown, N.D., which makes augers and other farm equipment. Some of his products are used on the Lukens farm.

People who haven’t spent decades in agriculture may not realize how much the scale of regional farms has increased, Broten says.

Farms that once handled a thousand bushels of grain a day now work with 5,000 to 10,000 bushels an hour, he says.

That requires bigger bins, augers and drying equipment, as well as bigger trucks and combines, he says.

Steve Black, regional sales manager for Omaha, Neb.-based NECO grain dryers, says demand for his company’s products is strong.

One of his company’s dryers was installed on the Lukens farm last fall during the region’s long, slow corn harvest.

Lukens says he regards the dryer as a long-term investment,

“I’m convinced that corn is a crop that’s here to stay,” he says.

Pros, cons in growing seed

Paul Berntson of Berntson Seed Farm in Adams, N.D., says there

are both challenges and opportunities in growing seed for other farmers.

“Growing seed is a controlled gamble, basically,” he says.

Cleanliness is essential throughout the process of planting, harvesting and transporting seed, he says.

There’s always danger that farmers might not like the variety that the seed growers produce, he says.

“Sometimes it’s a good variety, sometimes you end up sitting on it,” he says

But growing seed can be profitable.

“Normally, on a certified seed

field of wheat or barley, we hope to

get anywhere from a buck to $2,

$2½ for our clean seed over the

established cash price,” Berntson


“If it’s a wheat field and it runs 50 bushels an acre, and I can pick up an extra $1.75 or $1.50 (per bushel) over the established cash price, I’m earning an extra $75 or $80 an acre — then it’s worth it, if you have enough acres,” he says.

But on a small plot, “you’ve really kind of spun your wheels financially (growing seed), because you’re gone through all that work, all that effort, and you’re not getting enough money back,” he says.

Berntson this year is growing four varieties of wheat, one variety of field peas and one variety of barley, Celebration.

He grew Celebration last year, too, and some of the seed he raised is planted on the Lukens farm this summer.

Lukens says the Celebration variety holds up relatively well to vomitomoxin, which hurts yields and quality in barley and wheat.