Central Iowa’s first agrihood focuses on putting farm first in $260 million project
Dan Fillius picked cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers and cantaloupe last week, the start of what eventually will be about 100 acres of fruits, vegetables, flowers, orchards and meadows.
The farm Fillius is developing will be the center of Middlebrook, a $260 million home, townhome, commercial and office project on 540 acres near Cumming.
The area's rolling hills, ponds and timber will eventually be home to central Iowa's first "agrihood," a planned community of about 1,000 homes built around a working farm and community gardens.
It's one of more than 200 agrihoods that have cropped up across the country, a trend that appeals to consumers who want a slice of country life — big gardens, nature and outdoor recreation — near urban centers. Read More
Solar panels could be cash crop for farmers
John Forell, who owns 5,000 acres and grows corn, soybeans and wheat in Eaton County, and Kent Kraynak, who runs a farm with 100 acres and grows grains in Saginaw County, say they are pleased they will soon be able to generate revenue from their farms and produce clean electricity for their neighbors.
Despite some criticism from some fellow farmers and massive red tape before power generation starts, Forell and Kraynak used a change in Public Act 116 that allows them to keep their long-term agricultural tax incentives while renting their land for solar power development under the state Farmland and Open Space Preservation program.
"We chose solar because we believe it is less intrusive. For us, it is easier to buffer and hide it," said Forell, who plans to lease 300 acres, or 6 percent, of his farmland to Geronimo Energy, a solar developer based in Edina, Minn.
Forell estimated that the return on investment will be higher for solar than for his crops. "Each year is different with prices, but if I look at grain income now, I can get two or three times prices for solar than from crops," he said. Read More
Baby Boomers Are Leaving Behind a Trail of Luxury Ranches
Decades ago, a generation of America’s wealthiest, raised on television shows like “Howdy Doody” and “The Lone Ranger,” headed west with dreams of owning some of the country’s most prestigious ranches. Now, as those John Wayne-loving baby boomers age out of the lifestyle or die, they or their children are looking to sell those trophy properties. Read More
Deere’s new $33 million tech center will make farm machines smarter
Farmers across the U.S. face challenging weather, shrinking access to skilled workers, and a battle for profits.
"We're trying to develop and deploy technology that makes machines smarter, more precise and easier to use so farmers can be more productive, more profitable and more sustainable," Stone said.
Already, the group's technology is doing things like helping tractors drive themselves using global positioning satellites; changing the rates used to plant seed, spray herbicides and apply fertilizers; and tracking yields, soil health and field moisture. Read More