Grower Profile: The Mitchell Farm, Part V

Clay Mitchell

Iowa farmer Clay Mitchell continued down the logical path toward greater efficiency, accuracy, and automation in 2007.

When we first visited Clay back in 2003, he was already three years into using a real-time kinematic (RTK), sub-inch accuracy GPS system, which has been the basis for most of his farming practice improvements through the years. Two years ago he embraced strip intercropping, the practice of planting alternating rows of two different crops in the same field. The pinpoint accuracy of RTK, along with proper hybrid/variety selection, allowed Mitchell to plant, treat, and harvest the crop without a loss in efficiency or yield.

Last year, Clay fully employed section control for spray applications. Not satisfied merely with section control, Mitchell customized the sprayer boom to provide control at the individual nozzle level. In 2007, the headline news for Mitchell is row-by-row planter control.

Clay became aware of the technology late last year — a clutch developed by an Ames, IA company called Tru Count (see sidebar for more about the company). Tru Count was finishing development on the planter clutch, which has the capability of turning sections of the planter on and off based on GPS data, and was completing successful wide-scale testing when Mitchell had company reps out to work on his planters.

“Our planter has all the technology now,” says Mitchell. “The machine has RTK implement steering, and every row has a clutch that is RTK controlled.”
The Tru Count planter clutch has burst onto the scene as few things do in agriculture, leading to wide-ranging partnerships with most of the top line OEMs. For Mitchell, this has meant that the technology is quickly integrating into a lot of what he was already using in terms of precision equipment.

“We are controlling the planter clutches through our Trimble FieldManager display, so on this one display we can do automatic steering for the tractor, automatic steering for the planter, and coverage mapping in addition to automatic planter row control,” explains Mitchell. “And, because of the new Trimble-DICKEY-john partnership, we can put the planter monitor on that same screen.”

Only a couple of years ago, when Mitchell added implement steering on the planter for the first time, the planter cab was sporting six monitors. “Now, we’re down to one,” he says.

“It’s A Big Deal”

The sloppiness of planter control is one of those issues that most growers have accepted as a reality of the operation. It’s this factor that makes planter row control easy to value out.

“We have 35 miles of boundaries around our waterways, essentially 100 acres worth of land, so simply not planting those acres saves $3,500,” he explains. “And then everywhere we would normally have overlap — on headlands or at the end of the field — if we improve planting we improve yield. With corn it is very consistent that we get only about half the yield we would look for.”

Mitchell says that it took looking at aerial imagery to see how much overlap they were getting, which he says amounted to about 1% of his acres. “Now when we get to waterways and headlands, the planter shuts off right away, we’re not planting five feet into them,” he notes. I am harvesting right now, and I can tell you it really matters.”

Normally, everywhere there was planter overlap Mitchell has to slow down the machine to a crawl , and sometimes get out and push the corn that gets hung up in the combine into the machine. “Every farmer knows what happens when you get lodging due to double planting,” he says. “It completely stops you in your tracks” it’s the difference between being able to stay in your machine, and having to get out.”

Mitchell speaks with amazement that such a relatively simple addition to his planter has made such a big difference this year. But with the cost of seed continuing to go up and up with the number of traits and stacks being packed into varieties and hybrids, it’s really a no-brainer.

“You make big assumptions about overlap when you calculate the benefit of automatic spray control, but with seed, you can basically calculate down to the penny how much you are saving by avoiding overlap. Growers are recognizing that it’s a big deal.”

For 2008, rumor has it that Clay Mitchell will be working on improving the accuracy of his fertilizer applications. Should be interesting …

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Leave a Reply

PrecisionAg Institute Stories
PrecisionAg InstituteThe PrecisionAg Institute Partners
October 1, 2017
Learn more about the companies that have committed their corporate and financial support to the PrecisionAg Institute, an independent global forum dedicated to the sharing of precision agriculture practices, ideas, research, products, services and success stories. Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Partner Perspectives: Winfield United
September 27, 2017
Joel Wipperfurth talks about the challenges of compatibility and collaboration in ag technology, and some of the key findings that the the company’s Answer Plot program is delivering for farmer customers. Read More
Excellence AwardsHelping Producers Manage Data: 2017 Award of Excellence Recipient Dr. Joe Luck
August 23, 2017
Dr. Luck is part of a wave of young Extension professionals who are educating producers and service providers on best practices in precision agriculture. Read More
Trending Articles
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?
September 26, 2017
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Technology at Agrilevante
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
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
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
Latest News
corn weather
Data ManagementSeasonal Weather Outlooks: High Risk Worth the Reward?
October 18, 2017
Often, when discussing weather service needs with a potential client, I am asked about the possibility of providing long-range weather Read More
Industry NewsAgDNA Announces Dealership Expansion
October 18, 2017
This week AgDNA surpassed their growth projections, announcing partnerships with eight new multi-store dealerships across the mid-west, mid-south and east Read More
Tomato-crop-India
AsiaIndia Maps 185 Districts Through Remote Sensing for Hor…
October 17, 2017
India’s Union Ministry of Agriculture has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient …
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Vector-and-Raster-image
Data ManagementUsing Vector Soil Data in a Raster World?
October 16, 2017
Why spend the time and resources to extract the NRCS ‘Soil SURvey GeOgraphic’ (SSURGO) soil polygons only to display the Read More
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irri…
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
DronesDroneLife: Global Ag Drone Industry Potentially Worth $…
October 12, 2017
Via DroneLife.com’s Jason Reagan: According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imag…
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Planet Labs satellite imagery
Industry NewsFarmers Edge, Planet Labs Announce Multi-Year Exclusive…
October 11, 2017
Farmers Edge announced today a strategic partnership to bring Planet’s best-in-class global monitoring platform to the Farmers Edge precision agriculture Read More
John Deere Combine Harvester at Hagen Farms
Decision Support SoftwareAg and Rail Equipment Uptime Critical for Good Harvest
October 9, 2017
Across the American Heartland, growers have started harvesting their crops for what the USDA predicts will be a good yield Read More
Ag Drone
Industry NewsBotlink, SST Announce Integration
October 6, 2017
Botlink has announced a seamless flow of actionable aerial data into the agX Platform. This integration makes it quick and Read More
corn field
Industry NewsEFC Purchases AgSolver Assets, Establishes New Sustaina…
October 6, 2017
EFC Systems announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver Inc. The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainabilty Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision A…
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Industry NewsClimate, West Central Distribution Join Forces on Phosp…
October 3, 2017
To help farmers improve productivity and return on their investment, West Central Distribution and The Climate Corporation have teamed up Read More
Lettuce-with-a-binary-code
DronesYuma Growers Embrace Precision Production
October 3, 2017
From the Rose Garden at the White House, to the laser-leveled fields of Yuma, AZ (home to 90% of this Read More
Drone
EuropeUK: Robotic Farm Completes First Fully Autonomous Harve…
October 3, 2017
It’s harvest season in many parts of the world, but on one farm in the United Kingdom, robots — not Read More
APSUL overview
AmericasFuture of Digital Agriculture Arrives at South American…
October 2, 2017
Last week I attended the fourth South American Congress of Precision Agriculture and Precision Machinery (IV APSUL America 2017). The Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteThe PrecisionAg Institute Partners
October 1, 2017
Learn more about the companies that have committed their corporate and financial support to the PrecisionAg Institute, an independent global forum dedicated to the sharing of precision agriculture practices, ideas, research, products, services and success stories. Read More