Economic Development and the Changing Workforce in Agriculture - Taranis

Economic Development and the Changing Workforce in Agriculture

Don Lamb leads teams that act as advocates and cheerleaders for agriculture and work to protect soil and water. He does this while farming his own land and serving his calling to help farmers in other parts of the world better understand practices and principles that can improve their yields. He’s a champion for all of agriculture and shares that he holds the story of Taranis and the opportunities the technology delivers near and dear to his heart. 

In this week’s AcreForward, Mike DiPaola is sitting down with him to learn more about how he gets it all done. Lamb, who serves as Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture talks about what agriculture technology means to his farm, how he sees Indiana and other states benefitting from the value of technology and the ripples it makes: from a changing workforce need with new challenges to the education and communication that agriculture needs to reach its potential, Lamb shares his insights on how agriculture can move the acre forward. A native of Lebanon, Lamb says that his calling isn’t only supporting and bolstering agriculture in the state of Indiana. As a husband and father of four daughters, Lamb realized early on that sharing his passion for both agriculture and Christianity outside of the U.S. could have a great impact. 

“AgriStewards was really something that God started. I don’t think we had a strategy to get it started, but He did, and it’s been a blessing to watch it grow. The idea is to teach subsistence farmers around the world how to take better care of their soil. We do that through a curriculum called Farming in God’s Way,” Lamb says. “We’re not trying to moderate, westernize, or mechanize agriculture for them, we’re teaching a person that’s farming half an acre to better care for their primary food source.” 

The basis of agriculture, at its core, the agronomic and soil health education that Lamb and the volunteers who support the mission teach to subsistence farmers can and does double their production. The mission has served 30 countries to date and is led by Brian Smith, who spends time both leading AgriStewards and helping on Lamb’s family farm. 

Lamb talks about the undeniable technology connection and how humbling it was to spend time in Uganda helping farmers, just this past February, and return to conversations of Taranis flying his own acres.

“I taught farmers in Uganda to do a better job of farming with a hoe, and then I get back that next week and we’re talking to Taranis; thinking about using drones on our farm to identify weeds and tell us what our stand count is in our corn and soybean fields. You just think about that perspective—it blows me away,” he confides. “What we do is as simple as using a hoe and putting a seed in the ground with the right inputs. In many ways, we’re doing the same thing with a seed and a hoe and specific inputs as we are a 24-row planter and a drone to monitor the crop. The perspective is just incredible.” 

FaceTime was still something only realized in sci-fi movies a decade ago, certainly not an application farmers would think of as a monitoring opportunity for their fields. Today, that unfathomable communication tool, is the yield of multiple technologies intersecting with an affordability threshold that makes them viable for on-farm use. The farm is evolving, and with it is coming the season-long knowledge of what is happening in a field, on an acre, and to a leaf. Today, FaceTime is what DiPaola likens the communication and connection Taranis provides both growers and the retail ag partners they work with.

Lamb tells us that he’s most excited about Taranis heading into his third year of AI-driven insights. Why? Because his farm has fully embraced utilizing the insights, has developed the discipline to use it, and, as he shares, changed management strategies to fully incorporate what is being learned. 

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