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Farm automation, energy field day set Thursday

By Staff | Jun 17, 2015

JEFFERSON – A Practical Farmers of Iowa farm automation field day, “Farm Production: Corn, Soybeans, Solar and Wind” will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the farm of crop farmer David Ausberger.

Farm automation may sound futuristic, but the technology has actually been around for decades benefiting row crop farmer David Ausberger by cutting costs while increasing efficiency and safety on the farm.

“Farm automation has allowed me to do a lot of things as an individual that would otherwise take two people to do,” said Ausberger, who has installed a Programmable Logic Controllers system on his 1,700-acre row crop farm near Jefferson. David’s PLC system automates and monitors the farm shop, grain bin and other processes on the farm.

“The technology has been around since the 70s, but now it’s coupled with wifi and an app on your phone so it can be used effectively and easily on a farm scale.

For example, I can cycle the fans on my grain bin when it’s actually going to dry the grain down, rather than just turning on and running for a few months. The program is smart enough to tell the fans when to run and when I’m making money on the grain. I can monitor the temperature and moisture of the grain, so it will be in better condition – and I save money on electricity, ” said Ausberger.

In addition to seeing how the PLC system works, guests will learn how onfarm energy is produced and used on the Ausberger farm, including solar panels used to power the shop. In addition, the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District will bring its soil health trailer, which includes demonstrations of water runoff and infiltration in various soil samples.

Speakers include Randy Skeie, of Harvest Energy, and Terry Becker, with T&B Grain Services, LLC, who will be on hand to discuss the PLC system, and may also demonstrate a grain bin emergency extraction tube. Ausberger said enhanced farm safety is one area where the PLC system may be particularly beneficial.

“With the PLC system, we can automate the auger that cleans the bottom of the grain bin. There’s no way to do it without the auger, and it can be very dangerous. People get caught in them,” said Ausberger. “But with the PLC system, it could be run more remotely, with the worker away from the auger.”

There is no cost to attend the event which includes lunch, but an RSVP is needed to reserve a meal. Contact Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 or lauren@practicalfarmers.org by Monday, June 22. The event is sponsored by EcoWise Power.

The Ausberger farm is located at 1647 170th St. (about 8.5 miles northeast of Jefferson).

Directions: From the intersection of U.S. 30 and state Route 4, proceed 4 miles north on Route 4, then 2 miles east on 170th Street (County Road E26). The farm is on the south side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

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