Consumers are more interested than ever in what really happens on today's farms, so Illinois corn farmer Justin Durdan decided to "show and tell." In a series of pioneering 360-degree videos, Durdan spent 2016 offering consumers a personal, panoramic view of the season-long action on his family's corn and soybean farm in LaSalle County, Illinois.
With the release of the "harvest" video, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board's series covers all four farming seasons – planning, planting, growing and harvesting. Available on www.watchusgrow.org/home-grown-corn, the videos also feature a Chicago-area radio personality and self-described "city girl" who questions Durdan about current farming practices and technologies.
"We know consumers have questions about farming," Durdan says. "The goal with these videos is to answer those questions and let consumers see for themselves what we do on our farm."
The video series includes Durdan showing the agricultural technologies he uses during each season – and how they help him be a good steward of the land:
- Planning – He uses agricultural software to analyze results from previous years to decide what to plant – and in which fields – during the next season. "This is where stewardship starts," Durdan says.
- Planting – An in-cab precision-planting monitor controls the precise number of seeds that are planted in different parts of every field, while GPS helps reduce seed overlap.
- Growing – He uses precision technology in his sprayer to control the exact amount of herbicide and fertilizer applied to each plant, depending on what each plant needs.
- Harvest – His combine removes the cob from the plant, removes the kernels from the cob and turns the cob and plant residue into mulch for the next year's crop.
Durdan, who is the fifth generation to farm his family's land in Streator, believes it's important to give consumers an honest look at advanced ag technologies. "As farmers, we understand the sustainability benefits of today's farm technologies – growing more food on less land with fewer pesticides – but consumers likely don't. We need to keep sharing our story and explaining what we do and why."