Missouri Soybean Grower Talks Precision

Why did you first start using precision agriculture technology?
We thought we could do a little better job of farming — maybe get a more even spread when using chemicals and fertilizers. We were reading about the technology and asked some machinery dealers about it, and got started that way.

What are the greatest benefits that you see from using precision agriculture in your operation?
Being accurate when you spray and spread and avoiding overlap, and knowing exactly how many acres you are working and how much fertilizer you are spreading.

Tell me about the technology you use.
We’re using controller driven variable-rate — when we were spraying it was hard to see where we were going and to see where we were last. It gets pretty hard to see, even with the full marker, especially with the sun shining and the high plants. Our yield monitor came with the combine. We use it to find out our number of bushels per acre and how much we’ve accomplished in a day. It’s great.

Can you think of any barriers or concerns that you had about the technology that you had before you started using it?
I didn’t know how it was going to work and, you know, it was hard to know if I was going to be smart enough to run the stuff. Once you get it programmed its simple; it just looks real complicated. We just read through the guide and figured it out.

Did cost worry you?
Well yes, it was an issue, but with so many acres that we go over, it pretty much pays for itself, really.

Did you have any ideas or expectations about how much money you’d save by purchasing precision agriculture technology?
Well, I really didn’t know. I knew it would save us some money. I didn’t really have a figure in mind. I just knew that, even if we only overlapped the fertilizer a little bit it would add up fast. If we just saved $3 to $4 an acre, I figured that we’d save at least $15,000 right there.

Is the profitability because of decreasing costs, or is it more because of yield?
It’s hard to say. You know, if it rains in this country then you get a pretty good yield. I don’t know if I’d say that it was because of the equipment. I know it save us some money on fertilizer and spray though.

If you were to give advice to another soybean grower in the area who is not using the precision agriculture technology, what would you say?
I’d say that if you like to save money you’d better get the technology, because it’ll save you money. Just by avoiding double spreading you save money.

What does it take to be a successful farmer today?
A lot of hours and trying to keep up with technology. Definitely have a business head on you. Be good with figures and have some sort of plan.

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