Give farmers a piece of technology and they find inventive ways to use it to benefit their operation. In the case of Newton, Iowa farmer (and Ag Leader SeedComand product specialist) Will Cannon, it all started with the yield monitor and mapping hybrids.
“I like knowing exactly to a row when hybrids and varieties start and stop—especially when you have to switch near the end of a field—so when you analyze yield results you know why the yields went up or down,” Cannon says. “That practice led to conducting strip trials across whole fields. And I often plug in all my hybrid/variety numbers into the monitor before I head to the field so changing numbers and fields is simple.”
And Will does a lot more than just track yields. “Last year we conducted alternate strips across a field to compare no-till and strip-till soybeans. We set up and mapped alternate passes of strip-till in the fall, came back in the spring, locked in with auto-steer to fertilize and plant into the strips, then no-till plant in-between those passes,” he says.
Cannon likes having all that mapped in the spring, because come harvest he doesn’t have to worry about where the combine is in the field. “I can just harvest and not worry about anything else, because I trust the monitor and data gathering.” Then during post-harvest into winter he crunches data. “I really like the capabilities of the SMS software. There are great tools I can use to select which passes across the field I want to analyze and compare. And I learned a lot about what tillage systems work best in specific fields.”
Another data layer is tracking his refuge management acres. I see this as becoming more and more important, as different hybrids change percentage of refuge acres, plus if I get audited I can direct them exactly to where they need to take tissue samples. And exact location is a big help if I need to apply insecticides on those acres,” he says.
Cannon continues to be impressed with the flexibility built into today’s software and data recording capabilities. “You have a lot of features to document things, so you don’t have to remember it all. And as more growers learn the capabilities, they figure out new ways to use it—because what appeals to one grower may be the opposite of what another guy wants. And the history of data that you build up is invaluable in the future.”