Young farmers often have a drive for efficiency, and technology. North Plate, Neb., grower Nathan Kramer is no different. He knows the tools of precision agriculture can get him there. But data holds the key.
“If you don’t know where you’re at, it’s hard to tell where you’re going,” Nathan says, with regard to their lack of baseline yield data. So last fall, he and his dad Randy talked about needs with their local equipment dealer. After checking out Ag Leader and John Deere, they opted for the Ag Leader InSight system to start measuring and mapping yields last fall.
“We chose the InSight for several reasons. My dad’s not a big computer guy, so we really liked how easy it is to use, yet it can handle the complex future jobs I want to try such as variable rate seeding and fertilizer application. And, even though we run mostly Deere equipment, we went with Ag Leader due to its versatility to work easily in different equipment brands, just in case we switch combine or tractors,” Kramer says
Since half of their 2,200 combined acres (they farm their own ground and share equipment) are dryland, Nathan believes he can find added efficiency in varying his seeding and fertilizer rates on fields where soils and topography are most variable. “We feel that perhaps variable-rate seeding will pay off faster in dryland than on our irrigated acres. And we hope for a similar payoff with fertilizer. We may not use less of either one, but we’ll hopefully increase efficiency across the field.”
The Kramer’s next step into precision farming is drilling wheat next week using their newly purchased auto steer with RTK accuracy. “We’re looking forward to planting more acres per day due to less fatigue,” Nathan says.
Once fall harvest is in the books, and yields on maps, Nathan plans to spend some time this winter talking to neighbors experienced in precision farming, and working with a consultant to develop some prescription maps and test protocols for next spring. “We expect a lot of trial and error with different practices we want to try—everything from planting populations, fertilizer rates, hybrids and irrigation rates. It’s difficult to keep up with all this technology, that’s why it’s important to have good local service and expertise,” he adds.