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County Ag Co-op hosts Chamber lunch

Attendees at the monthly networking luncheon organized by the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce got a lesson Wednesday in where their food came from by Issac Hinkle, an employee of the Shelby County Co-op at Rays Crossing, which hosted the event. An arm of a Hagie field sprayer with a 90-foot overall span is in the background.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

Farmers are more efficient than ever, and agriculture is big business in Shelby County.

That was the message to about 50 attendees at this month’s networking luncheon put on by the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

From drones to satellite GPS systems, modern farming is high tech and high yield; farmers today are growing two-and-a-half times more food per acre than in 1950, said Denny Frey, general manager of the co-op.

“We are growing yields with less input,” echoed co-op staff member Issac Hinkle.

Held at the Shelby County Co-op at Rays Crossing, the Chamber luncheon guests also heard from Nathan Bush of Greene Crop Consulting in Franklin about drone technology.

Drones flying over large farm fields can monitor a large area in a short time and on-board cameras can locate problem spots.

Those spots can then be targeted for the attention they need such as pesticide spraying. The selective targeting reduces the amount of chemicals that are applied to fields, said Bush.

Speaking in front of a Hagie field sprayer with a 90-foot span, Hinkle said the machine is so sophisticated it change how much chemical is applied as he goes.

“We can vary the rate as we drive through the field. It changes the rate on the fly, and it’s GPS directed,” he said, referring to satellite-based Global Positioning System technology.

Shelby County produced $133 million worth of farm products in 2012, according to Frey.

A total of 94.6 percent of the land in the county grows crops, he added, and it will be needed more than ever in the coming years.

Frey noted that by the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion people and feeding them will require significantly higher yields per acre, he said.

Julie Metz, executive director of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, reminded attendees of upcoming Chamber events, including a luncheon with state representatives on April 6 to recap this year’s legislative session, and the annual Cash Bash on April 14.