These days, it can be difficult to keep up with all of technology’s advances – especially within the agriculture industry. But new technology is what allows growers across the Upper Midwest to farm sustainably while remaining profitable. And it’s what sets soybeans grown in Northern Soy Marketing’s (NSM) member states – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska – apart. 

“It really is space-age technology that we’re using on the farm these days,” said NSM board member Nancy Kavazanjian, who farms in Wisconsin.  

Some of that “space-age” technology includes drastic improvements relating to storage. Many soybean growers in the Upper Midwest opt to store at least a portion of their harvest over the winter months, patiently – or not so patiently – waiting for a better price before selling. Though they’ve unloaded and dumped their beans into steel grain bins, technology still allows growers to keep an eye on their stores. 

“Our bins have temperature cables, and we can constantly monitor them from our phones,” said NSM board member David Struck, who farms in South Dakota. “We are checking them remotely every day.”  

Though they have the ability to check the bins on their phone from anywhere at any time, it’s still important to take a traditional approach every once in a while. 

“It’s important to physically check the bins every week or two just to verify what you’re seeing on the monitors,” Struck said.  

What are soybean growers monitoring?  

“We make sure that the beans are always kept cool and comfortable, especially since we have such fluctuating weather,” Kavazanjian said. “We’ll have warm days in the middle of winter and then it’ll get cold again. So, we have to constantly monitor what’s in the bins.” 

If the soybeans do happen to get warm, Upper Midwest farmers react quickly to avoid damaging the crop. 

“If the temperature goes up, we start the aeration fans right away to cool it back down,” Struck said. “Most of the time, we catch it early enough that the fans take care of the problem.” 

The different technologies growers use on their farms support their longstanding commitment to sustainability.  

“When we can collect data, when we can be more exact in how we’re farming, it makes us more sustainable,” Kavazanjian said. “We evaluate that data, which makes us better at what we do because we’re making better decisions.” 

Growers don’t want to harm the environment and they don’t want to waste money. By utilizing technology, they can protect the environment and reduce input costs.  

“We can reduce the amount of product that we need, whether it’s fertilizer or pest control because we are more exact in the way it’s being placed,” Kavazanjian said. “We can get more yield out of fewer inputs and acres.” 

At the end of the day, farmers are stewards of the land – it’s their bread and butter. Generation after generation of soybean growers have dedicated their lives to raising crops, and they’ll do everything in their power to ensure that the next generation has the same opportunity.