Rod Weimer, a farm manager at Fagerberg Farms along the Front Range in Eaton, CO, has been named the 2015 Precision Agriculture Farmer of the Year. Weimer was nominated for the honor by Colorado State University professor (and fellow 2015 Awards Of Excellence honoree) Dr. Raj Kholsa. Since 2007, the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence have been made possible by the support of the PrecisionAg Institute.
Weimer’s operation – Fagerberg Farms – is a premium grower, packer and shipper of Colorado onions. Yellow, red and white bulb onions, grown both from seed and transplanted plants, are the primary crop while pinto beans, corn, wheat, double‐crop wheat, as well as a cover crop of barley to protect the seeded onions from wind damage, are also among the crops planted each year by Weimer.
Like many of his fellow growers west of the Mississippi, Weimer has fully embraced precision agriculture in an effort to save water and fertilizer, according to Kholsa.
“Years of drought in Northern Colorado would have required Fagerberg Farms to fallow a portion of the ground had drip irrigation not been utilized,” writes Kholsa. “Gradually increasing his acreage under drip (currently 1,000 acres) irrigation has allowed the operation to grow more product while using less water and resources. In addition to the added benefit of higher yields, a better quality onion with a longer storage life has been produced.”
Kholsa also points to Fagerberg Farms history as “the first Colorado farm to install sub‐surface drip irrigation and then the first to purchase autopilot GPS to install drip tape within sub‐centimeter accuracy” as proof that Weimer and team are serious proponents of precision ag adoption out west.
“Fagerberg Farms has become a model of sustainable agriculture, and opportunities to share the operation with current and upcoming agriculturalists, as well as local, regional and national legislators may result in even greater value than what has been realized in the operation,” writes Kholsa.
Of course, out west sustainable agriculture means growing fiber more with less water while ensuring what little water is left remains clean and available, and Weimer and his team have seemingly done their part in that regard, according to Kholsa.
“Farming in a semi‐arid part of the country along Colorado’s Front Range, one of the primary benefits of Rod’s leadership has been reducing water usage by 30 to 40%,” wrote Kholsa. “Since fertilizer is also applied through the sub‐surface drip lines, at least 30% less nitrogen is used. Additional benefits include no downstream groundwater contamination, and the use of cover crops as protection for seeded onions results in virtually no soil erosion in the onion fields”
According to Kholsa’s nomination letter, Fagerberg Farms has recently received Farm Conservation Awards from multiple Watersheds and Conservation Districts as well as recognition from the State of Colorado Environmental Leadership Program.
You can learn more about the Fagerberg Farms operation and Weimer’s involvement at FagerbergProduce.com.