What Technology Worked This Year?

Kurt LawtonFarmers, Tillage

The buzz is all about precision…steering, strip-till, fertilizer placement.

During Successful Farming magazine’s annual Crop Tech Tour, editors asked growers what technology worked in the field this year–given weather extremes that ranged from severe droughts to floods. 

Tom Loitz of Geneseo, Illinois, says his new strip-till system combined with row shut-offs on his planter showed strong payback when he entered the field to begin harvest recently.

“As I got out there this fall and opened up some fields, could really tell the difference with the row shutoffs versus last year when didn’t have them. The overlap wasn’t there, and you could really tell the difference. I think it’s a nice benefit,” he says, adding that the auto-steer system he’s used for the last four years is possibly “the greatest thing ever” in how it reduces his fatigue while running in the field.

Other farmers cited fertilizer costs, and found that moving to strip-till not only saved input dollars but helped the plants use fertilizer more efficiently. And one grower cited John Deere’s RowSense technology that helped him pick up down corn.

Steve Clementz, a precision ag adviser and farmer near Geneseo, Illinois, says things like precise sprayer swath control and auto-steer have helped farmers make up time that was lost because of poor early-season conditions that delayed planting. Also, tools like Deere’s RowSense will help farmers pick downed corn, which became an issue after a severe wind storm hit Clementz’ area earlier this summer.

“RowSense takes the stress out of combining leaned-over corn,” he says. 

Watch videos of two growers who describe their technology successes during their 2009 cropping season.