TURNER COUNTY, SD - As Internet access expands into rural areas, we're all seeing the benefits, including farmers. Darrin Ihnen operates a farm in Turner County, South Dakota. Having tools like the Internet at his fingertips is changing how he farms.
Anyone who sees Darrin Ihnen's tractor can tell he's got all the bells and whistles a farmer can ask for. It has a GPS system that can practically drive itself.
"Tractors are a lot like our cars. If we have a problem, they bring a laptop out, hook it up to the Internet and do your diagnostics," said Ihnen.
He runs a corn and soy bean farm along with a hog operation. With one phone call, he can order feed. An e-mail confirmation is waiting for him back at his computer. When it comes to figuring out where and when he's getting new hogs, all it takes is a few clicks.
Darrin go online to a website like www.TractorHouse.com where he can sell equipment or even look for equipment to buy.
"The Internet's really enabled that process to work very well on just getting us as a farmer, the information to make a good job of marketing and getting the pigs moved out of our barns," Ihnen explained.
Not only is Darrin finding better ways to run his farm, he's getting the word out about his line of business on social media sites.
"There's a lot of mistruths about ag that we can correct and by using social media and the Internet's allowed us to do all that," Ihnen said.
Yes, he has a smartphone. Darrin can check email, find market numbers and most importantly, know the weather.
"If we're going out, whether we're going to harvest or if we need to spray something on our crop to kill weeds or whatever, if there's rain coming, and you don't always see it coming, builds up fast, it could cost us money by having to re-do it," Ihnen described.
It's a constant whirl of information Darrin can access 24/7. Now, he says farming is more of a brain business.
"It's tied us to the world where in today's age, information is knowledge and a lot of times, information is the difference between profitability and being non-profitable," said Ihnen.
Just as an example, Darrin needed some permit paperwork for his hog buildings. Within minutes, he had those papers in an email, saving him a boatload of time, energy and gas.
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