When it comes to crop production in the state, Faribault County was ranked third by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in 2016. As a result, legislative officials have started to take notice of the county's strong presence in the agriculture industry.
One of those officials happens to be United States Senator Amy Klobuchar. Taking a hands-on approach the Minnesota native paid a visit to the Aker Technology office in Winnebago on Friday, Nov. 3. Klobuchar, along with president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Tim Penny, was in attendance to view a presentation by Aker Technology co-founders Todd Golly and Orlando Saez.
With Saez's entrepreneurial background, combined with Golly's farming knowhow, Aker Technologies provides valuable analytical data to farmers. In turn, the company's presence helps promote higher efficiency and better business overall practices within the farming community.
As Klobuchar explained, keeping up to date on the latest in farming technology was the main goal of her visit.
"We're talking about automated cars now and all those kinds of things," Klobuchar said. "We have to remember that we need to keep updating technology for agriculture. You have a technology here that could easily help save money as well as improve the environment. You can't always accomplish both of those things at the same time."
With the implementation of precision farming through the use of drone technology, farmers can collect high resolution aerial images of their crops. To monitor the health of an individual crop, additional data imagery can be extracted from the inside of an individual crop.
Information on various pests, bacteria, and plant diseases can also be properly diagnosed and classified with this new technology. The valuable data that is collected can then be stored on a smartphone app.
This type of state-of-the-art technology helps take the guess work out of farming, and allows farmers to more accurately plan ahead while reviewing their fields. As a result, farmers can maximize their yield while simultaneously saving valuable resources.
"The more that you monitor your crop, the intensification of that monitoring leads to better results," Saez said.
Klobuchar revealed the most impressive part of the Aker Technology presentation was the partnership of new analytical research with old-fashioned farming experience.
"Part of my job in Washington is to highlight these new technologies," Klobuchar said. "But also to make sure that whatever we do accommodates this kind of new fangled technology. We want to be as sophisticated as the entrepreneurs that are trying to bring jobs to our country."
Despite not having an agricultural background herself, Klobuchar understands the important role farming has within Minnesota, as well as the United States as a whole. The Senator sees the improvement of rural farming techniques as a way to send ripple effects across the United States; helping the country's agricultural market compete on an international level.
"I want our rural areas to be strong and it really bothers me if people don't understand where the food they eat everyday comes from," Klobuchar said.
"Even at the downturn, southern Minnesota was the strongest agricultural area of our state and we want to keep that going. Here you have a company based right here that can go out to the rest of the world," she added.