Grower Profile: The Mitchell Farm, Part II

Clay Mitchell can’t sleep at night when something in his farm has been left to chance. That’s the impression we were left with last fall when we spent some quality “cab time” with this eastern Iowa grower.

Technology is truly a tool of accuracy for The Mitchell Farm, where automatic steering was adopted in 1999 — well before it became agriculture’s coolest tool.

Mitchell also realized the power of the Internet and computer networking very early on. He harnessed the farm’s HAM radio tower, using it to mount multi-channel radios that transmit both real time kinematic (RTK) signals and a local area network (LAN). The base radio and strategically-placed repeaters allow Mitchell to employ the Trimble Autopilot and John Deere Autotrak automatic steering systems he uses at any of the fields he owns or rents.

The LAN ties him into his farm system as well as the Internet, allowing him to control virtually any aspect of his farm from anywhere he carries his laptop within range of the network.

Cool? Yes, but Mitchell has a reason for everything the farm adopts in terms of technology. The automatic steering program was brought on to bring dead-on accuracy to planting and strip tilling, and Mitchell finds “almost right” unacceptable.

“Because we are totally dependent on automatic steering technology for every operation, something that works 99% of the time isn’t good enough,” says Mitchell. He uses the Trimble Autopilot on his Case IH equipment, including an AFX8010 combine and a MX270 tractor, as well as his Deere 4700 sprayer. He uses Deere’s Autotrak on his 8520 tractor.

RTK-based automatic steering has provided other benefits as well, including improved tracking to reduce compaction and faster, more efficient movement through the field.

All this has reaped clear benefits at the end of the season — in 2003, corn yield averaged 215 bushels per acre, about 58 bushels better than either the state or the county average. It’s the farm’s biggest trouncing of the averages to date.

More In 2004

Constantly agitated by the less-than-perfect, this past year Mitchell implemented some technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of his John Deere 4700 sprayer.

The main efficiency drag on spraying has always been outlining the waterways, while spray accuracy is always a concern, even when using GPS guidance systems. Mitchell wanted more.

His ultimate goal was to gain control over sections of the boom automatically, so that when the sprayer boom was passing over a non-target area, be it a waterway or a section already sprayed, it would automatically shut off that section.

To accomplish this, Mitchell combined KEE Technologies’ ZYNX X15 controller with Trimble’s Autopilot steering. The ZYNX provides the capability of controlling individual boom sections, and the Trimble RTK system delivers the accuracy.

On the boom, Capstan solenoid valves were placed on each nozzle, and the boom section valves were removed to keep the boom at a constant pressure. By doing this, spray on/off control is almost instantaneous at the boom section, a critical feature when working near waterways.

Bottom line? Efficiency gains in 2004. Mitchell says he’s realized a 30% efficiency gain for spraying, and a 20% savings on crop protection inputs due to increased accuracy.

In the future, Mitchell says he’s working on the next generation of spraying accuracy, which will allow him to turn individual nozzles, rather than just boom sections, on and off as product is applied.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Leave a Reply

Grower Services & Solutions Stories
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Grower Services & SolutionsFarmers’ Trusted Partners And Their Roles
February 2, 2017
For farmers to successfully adopt technology, their trusted advisers must serve key functions in the crop production process. AGCO Corp.’s Read More
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Grower Services & Solutions6 Essential Competencies For Any Precision Agriculture Staff
February 2, 2017
Bruce Erickson, E-Learning Director in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University, has spent many hours examining the role of Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Grower Services & SolutionsFinding The Essential Link Between Grower And Ag Retailer
February 1, 2017
The farmer-trusted adviser relationship has had a long, storied relationship that has ushered in new technologies and advanced the practice Read More
John Reifsteck in cab
Grower Services & SolutionsThe Grower Perspective: What I Want From My Ag Retailer
January 31, 2017
Henry Ford supposedly remarked, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Now, there Read More
Trending Articles
Connected Farm Scout Trimble Agriculture - featured image
Decision Support Software17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture
February 6, 2017
There are dozens of easy-to-use mobile apps that are ideal for every day field scouting tasks. From record keeping and Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Innovation SeriesPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 25, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
Latest News
Professor Simon Blackmore
Ag Tech GlobalUK Professor: Name Change Needed For ‘Precision A…
February 24, 2017
‘Accurate farming’ would be more apt than ‘precision agriculture’ to describe this agricultural practice, says professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Read More
EventsInnovation Series 2017 Quick Thoughts: Gaining Ground
February 23, 2017
If you’ve been following past coverage of our PrecisionAg® Media Innovation Series events, this column is going to sound a Read More
UNL Researchers
ProfessionalsPrecision Agriculture Makes Farming More Sustainable, P…
February 23, 2017
Farmers have numerous sources of technology and data available to use in their operations, but many producers struggle with what Read More
Ag Tech GlobalSciFi in Ag: What do North Dakota, Peru, and Mars Have …
February 23, 2017
In early 2016, I was lucky enough to hike the Salkantay Mountain range in Peru. It’s about a 50 mile Read More
Sentera drone
DronesPrecision Ag Professionals Will Find Advice, Applicatio…
February 22, 2017
The upcoming ASCEND Conference & Expo will deliver practical information about using drones to improve processes in precision agriculture. ASCEND Read More
Case IH - AFS AccuStar and UAV Offering - Magnum MX210 AccuStar Receiver
DronesCase IH Adds New GPS Solution, UAV Package To AFS Offer…
February 21, 2017
Driven by the growing demand for efficient data management, the latest Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) solutions from Case IH help Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Systems ManagementBayer Enters Farm Recommendations Arena With Yara Colla…
February 20, 2017
Crop protection and ag biotech giant Bayer and fertilizer producer Yara International ASA have entered into a software collaboration and Read More
Hort TechGrowingProduce.com: Smart Vineyards Set to Revolutioniz…
February 17, 2017
Phil Asmundson is by no means a veteran viticulturist, but a half-dozen years ago, after watching his wife and business Read More
Soil testing
Data ManagementOpinion: Soil Testing Needs Sensors To Get More Accurat…
February 17, 2017
We are entering a very exciting time in agriculture. With so many great software platforms and data collection tools we Read More
Australian Harvest
Decision Support SoftwareGarden City Co-op Added as MZB Regional Mapping Center;…
February 17, 2017
Garden City Co-op (GCC), through a retailer agreement, has been using MZB Technologies as their precision ag platform for a Read More
DronesLand O’Lakes Drone Challenge Crowdsourcing Compet…
February 17, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. is calling on innovators from the tech industry to enter the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge, a Read More
DronesDrone Startup Hits VC Jackpot: Skyward Acquired by Veri…
February 16, 2017
Building on its strategy to drive innovation and adoption for IoT services in high-growth markets, Verizon today announced that it Read More
GuidanceCase IH Launches AccuTurn Automated Headland-Turning Te…
February 15, 2017
New AccuTurn automated headland-turning technology from Case IH takes the guesswork out of turning on headlands, which gives you improved Read More
ProfessionalsDeere Details New Connect Mobile App, C850 Air Cart
February 15, 2017
To help growers monitor, adjust and learn from the performance of their planter or sprayer while it moves through the Read More
drones, UAVs, DJI, Aerial Imagery
DronesNDVI Imagery Under $5K? Sentera Outfitting DJI Phantom …
February 15, 2017
Sentera today announced its ability to convert a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone into a precision scouting tool that collects Read More
Wheat sunrise
Systems ManagementNew Holland Announces New Product Launches
February 15, 2017
New Holland Agriculture expands its product offering with the introduction of three Precision Land Management technologies, PLM Drone Data Management, Read More
Data ManagementJANZEN LAW BLOG: Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms at Center of…
February 14, 2017
A number of poultry growers have filed suit against Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, and other poultry integrators alleging that growers’ Read More
Southern States grower in cab
Innovation SeriesPrecision Agriculture: A Place For Everyone At The Tabl…
February 13, 2017
Over the last 30 days, I’ve been immersed in all things precision agriculture. If you received your personal copy of Read More