Here is the next in our series as we introduce you to a few of dedicated precision ag equipment dealers in a series called “Getting to Know Ag Leader”.
We caught up with Keith Byerly of Advanced Cropping Systems by CVA in Nebraska.
1. From an agronomy standpoint, what do you consider to be the biggest issues facing growers today?
In our part of the world, it still comes down to water. We haven’t had much relief from the drought yet, and are facing water restrictions on irrigation if the drought continues into another growing season. That all being said, we are seeing the market explode when it comes to technologies for soil moisture management and VR Irrigation. To that extent, I think that growers are again going to be faced with a decision that cannot be made too quickly on who to partner with for a provider of this information. From a service provider standpoint, there are so many people out there with a “Me Too Attitude” offering data and prescription services to match the capabilities of the hardware they are selling. We firmly believe the “One Size Fits All” mentality does not work with it comes to working with growers and their data. Just like any other aspect of a growers operation, they need to make sure they find a Precision Ag service provider that understands the whole picture of what they are doing, and customizes programs around them.
2. Tell us about how growers in your area are using precision agriculture.
VR Fertilizer is the standard now, not the option. We are seeing the second generation of VR Seeding come about now as well. What I mean by that is that there were quite a few early adopters who went out and did VR seeding just because they could. They based it on soils maps and called it good. The results were less than great, and they abandoned the technology. Now they are coming back to it again, and this time they are looking for that right service provider to help them design a program. Section control of planters and sprayers was slower to be adapted in this area because we are fortunate enough to farm rectangular and square shaped field for the most part, but they are now the rule rather than the exception. RTK adaptation is really coming on strong now as well, with private CORS networks outpacing radio based systems. And of course automated steering continues to take over the cabs of these machines. We see more systems going into tractors that are more than 20 years old than I could have ever imagined.
3. What benefits are growers seeing by using precision ag on their farms? Give us some examples.
Customers that use our ACS VR Seeding program are seeing great results. We have really variable soils in our area, and it is not uncommon see very light sand with 0.50” of water holding capacity and a soil with 1.50” of water holding capacity in the same field. No matter what we do water is the limiting factor, so adjusting the Yield goal and seeding rates accordingly makes great sense both from the inputs side, and the profitability side.
4. What do you believe is on the horizon when it comes to technology and agriculture?
As fast as things are being adapted right now, that is moving target, but I think planters will continue to be a focal point for precision adoption. I think that the new Hydraulic Down Force systems that are coming to market are going do to airbags what airbags did to springs. I also think that planters that can switch hybrids on the go are only a few years away. Of course we are going to see more wireless communications in agriculture. Data transfer is one part of that, but fleet management and logistics is also going to be important.
5. What’s your best piece of advice to a grower who might be looking at using precision ag products?
Two things. First, talk to other growers you trust and find out what they are doing, and who they are doing it with. Even if you are a do it yourselfer, you are going to need someone to fall back on from time to time, whether it is data services or a hardware dealer. Talk to someone you already trust, you may be surprised by services they offer you never knew about. At the end of the day, computers can only do so much to manage your data. The grower needs to be involved in the decision making process so that they feel connected. Second, don’t be afraid to “get into the game” and purchase some hardware. One thing we know for sure when we work with technology is that it will be outdated in the future. One thing that independent Precision Ag equipment companies have done, and Ag Leader has done as good of a job as anybody, is making sure that just because it is outdated, doesn’t mean it is obsolete. Pick a system and you can use it for years, or update it whenever you want. But you can’t go back in time and start over if you wait too long.
Check back next month to “Get to Know” another Ag Leader dealer!
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