Learn about farm automation, on-farm energy at Ausberger farm field day – June 25, near Jefferson

For Release: June 11, 2015

JEFFERSON, Iowa — Farm automation may sound futuristic, but the technology has actually been around for decades – and for row crop farmer David Ausberger, it is entirely pragmatic, helping him both cut costs while increasing efficiency and safety on the farm.

“Farm automation has allowed me to do a lot of things as an individual that would otherwise take two people to do,” says David, who has installed a Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) system on his 1,700-acre row crop farm near Jefferson. David’s PLC system automates and monitors the farm shop, grain bin and other processes on the farm. “The technology has been around since the ‘70s, but now it’s coupled with wifi and an app on your phone so it can be used effectively and easily on a farm scale.

“For example, I can cycle the fans on my grain bin when it’s actually going to dry the grain down, rather than just turning on and running for a few months. The program is smart enough to tell the fans when to run and when I’m making money on the grain. I can monitor the temperature and moisture of the grain, so it will be in better condition – and I save money on electricity.”

Learn more about this system and the potential benefits of farm automation at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day David is hosting on Thursday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (the farm is at 1647 170th St. about 8.5 miles northeast of Jefferson). The event – “Farm Production: Corn, Soybeans, Solar and Wind” – is free to attend and will include lunch. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 or lauren@practicalfarmers.org by Monday, June 22. The event is sponsored by EcoWise Power and the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District.

In addition to seeing how the Programmable Logic Controllers system works, guests will learn how on-farm energy is produced and used on the Ausberger farm – including solar panels to power the shop. In addition, the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District will bring its soil health trailer, which includes demonstrations of water runoff and infiltration in various soil samples.

Speakers include Randy Skeie, of Harvest Energy, and Terry Becker, with T&B Grain Services, LLC, who will be on hand to discuss the PLC system – and may also demonstrate a grain bin emergency extraction tube. David says enhanced farm safety is one area where the PLC system may be particularly beneficial.

“With the PLC system, we can automate the auger that cleans the bottom of the grain bin. There’s no way to do it without the auger, and it can be very dangerous. People get caught in them,” he says. “But with the PLC system, it could be run more remotely, with the worker away from the auger.”

Directions: From the intersection of U.S. 30 and state Route 4, go 4 miles north on Route 4, then 2 miles east on 170th Street (County Road E26). The farm is on the south side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.


Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | tamsyn@practicalfarmers.org