Today’s technology and innovative ways of thinking outside the box is everywhere. It’s in the home, in the office and on the farm.

Farmers have learned ways to save time, save fuel, protect the environment and save costs overall with today’s use of technology. At Lake Land College, students and instructors learn together about some of the latest methods being used on the farm, including drone technology and most recently high-speed planting.

The Effingham Daily News presents the second installment of its Farm Fair special sections on Friday (Section D). This week, the newspaper looks at the way technology and innovation are shaping agriculture across the area.

LLC Farm Manager and Agronomist Mark Niemerg said the faculty and students take new ideas and try to poke holes in them by studying the data, while also testing equipment on the college's 175-acre farm. In the latest study, students and staff are looking into one of the latest methods of high-speed planting. The study is in its second year on that farm.

Similarly, farmers and growers are using technology and saving money by gaining access to online shopping for their fields. The Equity continues to move ahead with the changing times by offering an online ordering and purchasing option, called CommoditAg.

Just like every other aspect in life, shopping online for everyday needs and wants appears to be here to stay.

The Equity has teamed up with others it trusts across the Midwest region to provide supplies for crop protection and crop nutrition to growers. CommoditAg was founded in 2017.

CommoditAg believes that online sales is the next step for farmers. Ryan Wermert, chief marketing officer for CommoditAg in Effingham, said to date there are eight different retailers in nine states. There are four warehouses in the local region alone: Greenville, Pana, Marshall and Effingham.

And speaking of The Equity, the home and farm business turns 100 this year.

Effingham Equity began by using the Pennsylvania (now CSX) rail across from the old Pevely Dairy (now Dairy Farmers of America) as a base of operations. A warehouse was built to store the products brought in by rail, such as corn, coal, hay and feed ingredients.

The cooperative grew slowly through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. During the 1940s, the serious need for a grain elevator in the Effingham area became apparent, to expand the local market for wheat and corn.

Through the years, The Equity has evolved right along with the ever-changing agriculture landscape, serving as a beacon for all-things ag for area farmers across 22 locations. The Equity's history dates back to 1919, when a group of local farmers decided an agriculture co-op was just what Effingham needed.

A family in Sigel has been participating in U.S. Soybean Quality Survey by sending soybean samples to the University of Minnesota for evaluation. Lloyd Dasenbrock, now retired, and his sons, Matt and Rick, operate a 300-acre farm while holding down their other jobs as well.

The seed samples sent to the university examine the inter-relationship between end-user value and overall soybean quality. It all began five years ago, when they saw a newspaper ad placed by the University of Minnesota asking farmers to submit samples of soybean seeds.

The Dasenbrock family works with family-owned Kitchen Seed Company Inc., of Arthur. Their research is ongoing, as they strive to produce a better quality bean.

And growing up on a farm in nearby Marion County, one young man, Jacob Hanks, 17, has also learned about hard work and dedication. He’s a recent graduate of South Central High School who was recently named Illinois FFA State Star in Agricultural Placement Finalist.

His FFA adviser, T.J. Bolin said to be considered for the highest state award, Hanks interviewed in March, but learned in June he was a Top 5 Star Placement in Illinois. Besides working at home on the farm, the teen is an employee of Layer’s Inc., an egg production facility in Farina.