Since a picture is worth a thousand words, two pictures should be worth two thousand words right? Well the blog post I did Friday afternoon still had me thinking about how much more money Zynga’s Farmville is making than Facebook or real farmers when my niece and I stopped at Target for a few things. We saw something that I simply had to take a photo of – here it is.
Wait, that needs closer inspection.
Really? People buy $50 worth of credits to use those on applications like Farmville? Seriously? I think we have a real problem. And while I’m certain I waste far more money than I realize, I can’t imagine sinking money into a virtual farm week after week. I mean can’t you buy SimFarm or something and pay upfront then just enjoy it?
That said, I do have friends who are routinely putting money into farms and they don’t put everything up front. Farmers have no clue whether they will make it back and I have to wonder whether you can sell a FarmVille Farm to someone). And having not played Farmville in a very long time, I am probably unaware of all the great things you can buy with credits. And now I’m wondering if the same things farmers take out credit for can be purchased on Farmville. Some of the things I wonder about are:
- Drip irrigation – This is some of the neatest irrigation technology I’ve seen. It enables farmers to place water in the root zone which makes it available to the plants root system (that’s where it is actually used, not by the leaves). That provides a more direct connection which significantly reduces evaporation so farmers are getting more crop response from the water they use.
- Planting equipment – I saw a presentation the other day about some of the precision practices farmers are doing. The goal is to ultimately even look at varied rates of planting based on variable soil types. The reality that you spend a lot of money on a tractor and still have to buy the planter to go behind it may be lost on some. They always looked like a packaged set to me and you buy the tractor with implements in the toy section which is where I’ve always bought mine. That doesn’t happen at the tractor dealership. Everything it priced separately and farmers need to consider each component to be sure they are getting what they need. Our food, feed, fiber and fuel depend on it.
- Harvesting equipment – I may need to start with some of the kinds of equipment used…. hmmm I know I’ll miss some cause I’m still learning!
- There is a swather and baler for hay. Seems you need a flatbed to haul bales of hay.
- For soybeans and rice, a combine will get you done in the field. For corn, you need a combine with a different thing on front – its called a header. All of those require trucks to transport, people may use grain wagons behind tractors in the field too.
- For cotton, most folks use a picker but the farmers in Texas or other areas of the High Plains may use a stripper. (Insert your juvenile jokes here cause I’ve either heard them or made them myself.) The picked cotton is usually transferred to a boll buggy being pulled by a tractor which drives it over to a module builder which compacts the cotton down for storage and transport to the gin. And of course you need a module truck to come with its creeping floor to pick the modules up to go to the gin. (Yes, some major manufacturers have incredible pickers with on-board moduling capabilities. Those are not cheap and as I type that I feel I need to explain that the complexity of a cotton picker already makes it farm pricier than a combine.)
- Seed technologies – I could get really complex here but this is my personal blog so I’ll keep it brief. You can farm with heirloom seeds saved from season to season or you can choose seeds in some crops that have had greater research investments made into them to get higher performance. That research is done at a price and its value can be seen through genetic improvements, biotechnology enhancements that help control pest or reduce risk in season. The value is also seen in the price tag of the seed.
With just a few things on the credit list for farmers I’m exhausted! I need some light entertainment already but have to admit Farmville enhancements won’t be the route I go. No I think I’d prefer to watch some TV or something. I really hope the Panthers have a good game today, I could use happy thoughts.
Wait, I have something. Maybe I can start a RealFarm credits system where you can help a farmer buy something. Granted CSAs do some of that but it really is based on the food that comes back directly to you. In fact, my brother spent his weekend getting pigs and ducks to the butcher for his farm that will be enjoyed by several families. Love CSAs but the tangible nature of the return makes it different from Farmville. I think for us to get shelfspace at Target, we are going to need to think big.
I’m picturing someone at the register now shelling out their $50 for “RealFarm credit.” They go home and allot it to a farmer project like buying a planter. They can then see where the project is in funding — maybe the $50 bought a few bolts but at tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a planter, we’re going to need primo placement and a lot of uptake!
If not something like that, maybe we can all just remember to have friendly conversations now and then, letting friends spend money wherever they like but also talking real farms now and then when we are talking fun & games.