SACKETS HARBOR — Patriotism has always had solid roots for the owners of Robbins family farms on County Route 145. But they’ve cultivated it to a new level with the help of GPS technology and precision planting.
A 10-acre corn maze featuring the logo of the 10th Mountain Division is scheduled to open in early September. The maze is part of Old McDonald’s Farm, an educational, agricultural and hands-on adventure facility founded in 1986 by Nancy Robbins at the family’s North Harbor Dairy in Hounsfield. The family also operates Robbins Family Grain.
Old McDonald’s Farm marketing manager Julia C. Robbins said the maze is scheduled to open in the first of second week of September.
“We’ll have to see how it grows and what the weather does,” she said.
Ms. Robbins, daughter of Nancy and Ronald C. Robbins, said the idea for the maze originated over this past winter.
“We were eating dinner and trying to come up with some ideas for the farm,” she said of the family.
After tossing around corn maze ideas such as an American flag, family members decided on the 10th Mountain Division logo to honor local soldiers.
“Also, a lot of our customers are military,” Ms. Robbins said.
It’s the first large corn maze the family has planted.
“We’ve always had a small one, a kid-type corn maze that was kind of easy and more fun, like a scavenger hunt,” Ms. Robbins said.
In a video about the maze posted on Old McDonald’s Farm’s Facebook site, North Harbor Dairy Farm owner Ronald C. Robbins said the maze is also a good way to highlight some of the technology used at the farm. He worked with officials from Integrated Ag Services, Milford Center, Ohio, and Ag Leader Technology, based in Ames, Iowa, to work out a way using equipment and technology to plant the maze.
“We figured out a way how to equip our planter to use satellite imagery, GPS technology and precision seed placement to plant the design,” Mr. Robbins says in the video.
When planting the corn, the planter would automatically shut off when it was done creating a design element.
“Much like military precision weaponry, this is kind of the same technology only we’re just placing seeds in the ground with sub-inch accuracy,” Mr. Robbins said.
“It’s a pretty simple design, but it’s our first time doing it with precision,” said Ms. Robbins. “We didn’t want to go too crazy and wanted to make sure it came out. Ten acres is kind of hard to imagine, but if you look at the drone pictures we took of the whole farm, you can see just how big it is. When you’re in there with the corn 8 or 9 feet tall, it’d definitely going to feel like your lost.”
The maze, and Old McDonald’s Farm, will be open through Halloween. Maze admission is included with Old McDonald’s entry fee. In November, the maze crop will be cut and sold as grain corn to area mills.
“It’s one of the few fields we were able to plant for grain this year because of the wet weather,” Ms. Robbins said. “We used some of our best ground for the corn maze.”