Record Harvest founder Steve Cubbage, a well-versed precision agriculture advocate, obviously knows a good idea when he hears it.
Through February 28, Cubbage’s grower-focused precision ag service Record Harvest is calibrating planter units, meters and monitors and offering a $5 per-row donation to the growers’ preferred local 4-H or FFA chapter. The program is being offered in the Missouri-Kansas region through Record Harvest offices in Cunningham, KS, and Maitland and Nevada, MO.
“I’d really like to say this was my own idea, but I’ve got to be honest and say that we borrowed it from someone else,” jokes Cubbage. “Actually, we were going over some promotional ideas with our Precision Planting rep on how we could help raise some money in the local community, and he shared some examples of what different dealers in other parts of the country have done.
“At the time we were looking for ways to get involved locally and spread the word on getting planters properly calibrated for spring, and our local FFA chapter had just won a national livestock judging award – and with that came an international trip, so they needed the funding. It just all made perfect sense to extend that idea throughout our region and customer base.”
Cubbage hopes to do between 2,000 and 2,500 calibrations during the pre-spring season, which would mean possibly several thousand dollars for the local chapters. He says a calibration on a typical 24-row planter would net a $120 donation.
“Growers really need to be calibrating seed meters and planter meters on a regular basis anyways – and typically these guys are already supporters of their local 4-H or FFA throughout the year – so we figured why not make it so both sides win,” says Cubbage.
Although the program is grower-focused, Record Harvest will work with local retailers, equipment dealers and even independent crop consultants – basically anybody with a planter. As long as the planter is located somewhere within Record Harvest’s area of business, the company will make arrangements to pick up the planter meters and take them back to one of their facilities for service, then arrange for return to the grower upon completion.
“What we tend to see – even with some of the newer planters straight from the factory – is that more often than not the planters aren’t calibrated correctly to drop seed precisely where you want it,” says Cubbage. “When you get skips or double-plants because of a poorly calibrated monitor or a worn seed meter, it’s going to cost you.”
According to Cubbage, that cost can be dramatic. He cites studies showing that on average 5.7 bushels of yield is lost annually from poorly calibrated planter meters. For a grower raising 1,000 acres of corn even at the new “normal” price of $3.50, that still equates to nearly $20,000 left on the table from failure to calibrate.
Cubbage says that with commodity prices down, his precision team is on a mission for 2015 to “find the misplaced bushels left on the table.”