PrecisionAg Works: An Indiana Perspective

What was the reason you first used precision agriculture in your corn operation?
Well, I knew about [[yield monitors]] on [[combines]] and it always intrigued me. I knew that we could learn a lot about the fields and our problem areas using the monitors, and so we started using a yield monitor on our combine in the year 2000.
What are the greatest benefits that you see from using precision agriculture in your farm?
It is a great way to cut production costs. It helps you to find problem areas such as low [[soil fertility]], drainage, and more. And, it is a helpful way to gather information. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I am maximizing the level of efficiency on my farm.
How did you find out about the yield monitor?
Our combine dealer explained the yield monitors to us. He was a Case IH dealer in Indiana. I think that I started investigating it myself but he really explained the specifics. I read all the farm magazines I can get and I try to learn the new ideas and technology that is being developed.
Why do you use GPS?
I think we decided to use a [[GPS]] system because it helps us to break down all of our fields into 3.5 acre grids. We love that accuracy. We can see each individual field as a number of tiny fields.
Do you do your own [[controller driven application]]?
We don’t own one but we hire our fertilizer dealer to do it for us. We think it is a great way to control lime and fertilizer costs. We can really get a good handle on the fertility and lime level in our fields. We get readings on phosphate and potash in the fields as well as pH readings from the soil.
Are there any other factors that you find helpful about the GPS other than the fact that it breaks down your fields for you?
Our fertilizer dealer went over the specifics with us and shared a printout of the information we could gather, and that’s what really sold us. It was our local fertilizer co-op. They often help show new technology to growers and help us understand it.
What barriers or concerns did you have about the technology before you started using it?
I wasn’t sure that I would be able to handle learning about and running all of the new technology. And, I wondered whether or not this equipment was really accurate. Last, the cost was a big factor. The initial cost and the use of technology and of information processing was pretty big.
What do you hear from farmers that aren’t using precision agriculture technology? Why are they staying away?
I’ve heard several farmers say, “I’m getting too old for that stuff. I don’t want to mess with it. I’m too old; I just want to farm like I always have.” I think that cost might be the other problem for them. The initial outlay is pretty high.
What kind of expectations did you have about change in yield before you purchased the precision agriculture technology?
Well, our fertilizer dealer showed us a map of some fields that they had worked on and they showed tremendous variation on the amounts of fertilizer and ph levels and problem areas. This really opened up my mind as to how much money we could save and how our yield could increase by using this technology.
Are there any other technologies that you might be planning on purchasing in the next couple of years?
We might go to [[auto-steer]]. We could put it on our sprayer, our planter, etc. The only thing that might prevent us from purchasing the auto steer is the cost, but I don’t think that it will be an issue.
If you were to give advice to another corn grower in the area who is not using precision agriculture technology, what would you say?
I’d say that they would be amazed how much they could save, in the way of fertilizer and lime, by using this technology.
What does it take to be a successful farmer today?
You’ve got to be a shrewd businessman. Farming has changed. Now it takes financial management where it used to take simply hard work. I’ve seen a lot of hardworking farmers go bankrupt. Now you need to know your production and input costs at all times. It is more like a business than ever before.

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