AGCO 2017 Crop Tour Highlights Precision Planting Integration, Other Insights

Last week AGCO hosted the Minnesota leg of its second annual summer U.S. Corn Belt Crop Tour at Nelson Farm, a corn and soybean operation on the outskirts of Hanska, MN, which is about an hour southeast of the Twin Cities.

Having been in attendance at InfoAg just a few weeks prior as AGCO triumphantly announced its Hail Mary acquisition of industry darling Precision Planting — along with all the awesome planter tech that accompanies the Tremont, IL-based ag tech outfit as it moves into the AGCO family — a company that perhaps wasn’t quite so sure of its long-term future in an incredibly competitive and shrinking large ag equipment market seemed, well, it seemed pretty damn excited about what the future now holds.

“You get one chance a year to plant that seed at the exact right depth, the exact right spacing, the right moisture and at the right time, to give that seed the best chance it has to grow up to be the biggest and most productive corn plant possible,” AGCO’s Ash Ault, Field Marketing Manager and an Illinois farm kid, shared with the assembled group of local growers.

“What we’re really excited about,” he continued, “is the AGCO 9800 White Planter VE series with Precision Planting takes care of that. It minimizes all those risks to make sure that seed is exactly where it needs to be at the right time.”

Having conducted year-long, on-farm trials of its AGCO equipment alongside some of Precision Planting’s most noteworthy aftermarket add-ons, such as SpeedTube, DeltaForce, the 20/20 SeedSense monitor, and so on, the day focused primarily on how the AGCO-Precision Planting duo can help growers maximize their success in four agronomic subject areas: seed singulation and spacing, depth control, and planter down force.

Additionally, the AGCO team that developed and executed the on-farm trials wanted to demonstrate the company’s commitment to four industry trends:

  1. Minimizing Mechanical Losses – getting the equipment optimized and efficient.
  2. Minimizing Nutrient Losses – applying nutrients in an efficient and sustainable way.
  3. Adapting to Weather Conditions – changing how we do things agronomically based on Mother Nature.
  4. Maximizing ROI for Growers – truly the end-all-be-all for agronomic service providers; find that grower ROI and your ROI will likely grow, too.

So, now that I’ve set the setting for you, I’ll get right into a few of my thoughts from the event:

Follow the Leader

Having witnessed firsthand the growing acceptance of equipment manufacturers getting into agronomics back in December when Rick Welder and I pointed the rental car north to visit with Grand Rapid, MI, area retailer Green Valley to learn how it was working with local Deere dealer GreenMark Equipment, it doesn’t surprise me at all that AGCO is displaying a budding interest in helping deliver agronomic information to its customers. Now, AGCO senior marketing specialist Ken Wagenbach — a straight shooter in this industry if there ever was one 😉 — told me at the Crop Tour that the company has “absolutely no intentions” of getting into individual product recommendations, so rest assured there, for now. Still, it begs the question of just how long these big, multi-faceted equipment companies plan to sit on the sidelines and refrain from making a play on the agronomic playing time that ag retailers and service providers are currently gobbling up with growers, a new market force that we’ve heard from others (mainly, those aligned with the equipment manufacturers) is coming whether our CropLife 100 folks like it or not. Buckle up, agronomic service providers, and get ready to do battle for those acres someday in the perhaps-not-so-distant future with BIG EQUIPMENT.

Opening Up The Openness

It was somewhat surprising, however, to learn that AGCO had chosen two independent ag tech companies – both of whom this author staunchly believes are doing some great work in the industry currently – to ground-truth at Nelson Farm for the 2017 season.

Overland, KS-based data telematics startup Farmobile, and Mankato, MN weather and data analytics outfit Aglytix, were the two companies chosen, and from all accounts both products performed up to expectations for the AGCO group. The Farmobile PUC was used for real-time telemetry and planting data visualization, as well as collecting normalized data (Farmobile’s EFR) across a mixed fleet, while Aglytix was deployed to generate insights around early season stand counts and weather data for basing nutrient application.

“We can track where the machine is, what it’s doing, and things like that,” Ault shares of Farmobile. “There’s a lot of good data we have there that proves planting faster in certain scenarios can provide as good or better-than singulation, spacing, and downforce, and provide more efficiencies to get the crop in the ground in those tight planting windows.”

“With Aglytix,” he continues. “Looking at weather data, climate data, and mashing it all together in the computer to figure out what’s happening real time, just gives you more data and more innovation.”

Local Touch

One of my favorite aspects of these regional crop tour events is the chance to meet some of the local, independent retailers and crop advisors that we’d perhaps not have the chance to meet anywhere else.

At this event, that turned out to be United Farmers Cooperative (Winthrop, MN) Master Field Sales Agronomist Jesse Wiant, CCA. My first question for Wiant was the level of precision adoption growers in his territory, which apparently is pretty damn high.

“Maybe upwards of about 80% of our growers are doing something – whether it’s variable rate seeding, variable rate fertilizer, or using some of the newer technologies like drone imagery or satellite imagery,” he guessed. “Either way, it’s a pretty high adoption rate.”

United Insight is United Farmers Cooperative’s branded, in-house precision ag program. I asked Wiant what services offered through that program had really been taking off with growers adoption-wise.

“Variable rate seeding has probably been the biggest thing,” he shared. “Most of our growers have been doing variable rate fertilizer for a while now, and they’ve had the technology available on their planters but maybe didn’t know how to use it, or didn’t want to use it, or even some might’ve been a little bit scared to use it.

We’re kind of pushing the borders right? Trying to get them uncomfortable, try something new. You’ve already got the tech so why not use it.
“There’s a little bit of buzz around the drones – but no pun intended there I guess – we’re still in that process of, ok, we’ve got these images, now how do we use them? We still don’t fully understand how to use them, where with variable rate seeding it’s a little bit easier to walk a grower through that.”

Lastly, being a large independent cooperative in the era of consolidation, I wondered how that whole deal has been playing out in the Land of a Thousand Lakes.

“We’re seeing it (increased consolidation) at the retail level, and even to the grower level, to a point,” Wiant says. “I think it does affect us, luckily we’re at a situation now where we’ve got a strong balance sheet and we can kind of fight off some of the buzz in the neighborhood, I guess you could call it. And again, that goes back to the value that the cooperative or ag retailer can actually bring to that grower. From a manufacturer standpoint, I think there will be some changes at the basic level that we can’t do anything about, but it’s going to be about how do we sell through that? How do we learn with them, through these new ventures, to try to continue to be that trusted advisor on the farm?”

Leave a Reply

Grower Services & Solutions Stories
Farmer with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareClimate Adds New Features, Restructures FieldView Pricing
August 30, 2017
The Climate Corp. announced at Farm Progress Show the addition of new features and data connectivity enhancements for the 2018 Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsFarmobile Launches Farmobile Pro Tier with Universal File Transfer
August 28, 2017
Farmobile today announced the launch of a new subscription service, Farmobile Pro. Farmobile Pro includes significant technology advancements including the Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsSyngenta, Premier Crop Systems Partner to Offer ROI Analysis Maps
August 28, 2017
Syngenta and Premier Crop Systems announce a commercial partnership to bring growers customized, variable-cost-per-bushel analysis maps — the first of Read More
Data ManagementBASF, Proagrica to Jointly Develop Farm Management System Interface
August 24, 2017
BASF and Proagrica have signed a development and operation agreement to bring one of the first farm management system interfaces Read More
Trending Articles
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights in Precision Agriculture
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innovation
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More
Farming at Sunset
Business ManagementAgtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome
September 6, 2017
Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, Read More
AgQuip overview
Australia/New ZealandAgQuip 2017 Displays New Ag Technology in Australia
August 28, 2017
The annual AgQuip field days took place in Gunnedah, NSW on August 22-24. Being the largest agricultural field days in Read More
Agri-AFC-cotton-baler
Business ManagementBringing a Southern Sensibility to Precision Agriculture
August 7, 2017
Amy Winstead considers herself blessed to have gotten in on the ground floor of precision ag adoption in the Southeast. Read More
Latest News
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
EventsPrecision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
September 20, 2017
When John Deere acquired Blue River Technologies (BRT) recently, BRT’s See & Spray technology received plenty of play. Yet many Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSyngenta Helps Lead Efforts for Farm Management Softwar…
September 19, 2017
Ag data from tractors, combines, planters, and other farm machinery present a huge opportunity for growers to manage their operations Read More
Petra-Andren-Cicada-Innovations
Australia/New ZealandGrowLab’s Rocket Fuel for AgTech in Australia
September 19, 2017
Despite its superpower status as a producer and exporter of agricultural goods and services, up until now Australia has had Read More
CropIn-Team-Photo-credit-BW-Disrupt
AsiaCropIn Aims to be a Global Leader in AgTech Sector
September 19, 2017
Krishna Kumar created AgTech startup, CropIn Technology in 2010, along with co-founders Kunal Prasad and Chittranjan Jena. The trio went Read More
China-Beidou-Navigation-Satellite-System
AsiaChina’s Navigation System Gets Powerful Chip to I…
September 18, 2017
A new powerful chip technology has been introduced in China’s national satellite navigation system to provide high-precision positioning, according to Read More
Tablet Grower
Industry NewsFieldReveal Names Hesse New CEO
September 18, 2017
Matt Hesse has been selected as the Chief Executive Officer of FieldReveal, a newly launched joint venture formed to deliver Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment…
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Wheat sunrise
Australia/New ZealandSparkLabs Group Launches an Agricultural Tech Accelerat…
September 15, 2017
SparkLabs Group, which claims to be the largest startup accelerator group in Asia, is stepping into agricultural tech with a Read More
Sensors/IoTCollaboration Leverages Internet of Things, Sensors in …
September 15, 2017
The vision of having license-free community sensor networks for agricultural users has made a giant leap closer to reality. A Read More
Young Corn Field
Data ManagementPurdue Online Tool to Help Farmers Make Precision Decis…
September 14, 2017
An innovative online tool developed by a Purdue University engineering professor will allow farmers to process data collected from their Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More
Nate-Dorsey-Field-Trial-Curve-Compensation
Systems ManagementField Trial: Precision Application and Curve Compensati…
September 13, 2017
Several months ago I wrote an article about curve compensation in planters and how these systems can help create more Read More
Diamondback moth
Tools & Smart EquipmentTechAccel Invests in Unique Sprayable RNAi Pesticide Te…
September 12, 2017
TechAccel, the Kansas City-based technology and venture development company, has announced it has awarded the first grant under its “Path Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights …
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Terra
Imagery/SensingAerial Imagery Aids Decision-Making
September 12, 2017
As the growing season has progressed, aerial imagery has been part of the world record setting data-collection efforts for Terra, Read More
Hurricane-satellite-image
Decision Support SoftwareKeeping Things in Perspective: Weather vs. Climate in O…
September 12, 2017
As I write this, we are on the heels of catastrophic flooding in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey, and another Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innov…
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More