January 08, 2019

Precision Technology – Luxury or Necessity?

Guest Post by John Fenderson, Technical Product Manager - WestBred®

If you happen to be in my age demographic — working on your seventh decade — you probably grew up driving a tractor that might have had power steering and a radio on the fender that you couldn’t hear but the neighbors 3 miles away could. Oh, and air conditioning — what’s that? Tractor cabs were uncommon during my adolescence, and if you had one there was an excellent chance the AC didn’t work, making it hotter than if there had been no cab. I’m not pointing this out to say those of us with a little (or a lot) of silver in our hair had it tough! What I am saying is if you grew up in the ’60s, ’70s or even the ’80s, it may be a little more difficult to grasp the value of the precision farm tools available today. We got by just fine without them, right?

I vividly remember when autosteer came out in a large way back in the ’90s and early 2000s. The costs were high and not much financial analysis was available to support the technology. It was more of, “Hey! I’ve got this really neat toy on my tractor!” I remember sitting in a meeting in Kansas while an ag engineer talked about autosteer and told us it would pay for itself in just two years. Today, it can be hard to find a piece of equipment without autosteer — and isn’t just because it’s “cool.”  Studies have proven over and over that it saves time and dollars, and it certainly reduces operator fatigue and stress.

Autosteer was the forerunner of what was to come. Today’s tools continue to evolve and provide growers with technology to save time, save money, protect the environment, increase productivity and ultimately make us more efficient. If all of this is true — and of course it is — why aren’t more people readily adopting new technology? Sticker shock of getting set up is a big reason, and in today’s environment, low commodity prices have everyone watching their bottom line. But is precision technology a luxury or a necessity?   

Making the most of what we have is essential for farmers today and most certainly in the future.  No, we may not all have the best land in our county. The key is identifying the good and bad areas and maximizing the potential of each of those areas. The days of doing the same thing to every acre of your farm need to change and change soon. The cost of inputs continues to rise while commodity prices are remaining relatively flat. It is essential we improve efficiency on every acre we farm.

In the recent article, “7 Warning Signs of Stagnation” by Moe Russell on agweb.com, Russell warned of stagnation in a farming operation. Russell said, “If you hear yourself or your employees say any of the following statements, it might be time to reboot:

  1. We have never done it that way.

  2. We are not ready for that.

  3. We are doing OK without that.

  4. We tried it once.

  5. It costs too much.

  6. It’s not our responsibility.

  7. It wouldn’t work for us.”

More often than I care to admit, I have heard these things as I traveled across the southern Plains. Russell concluded by saying, “Not all technology works for everyone and on every farm.   Avoiding stagnation requires a lot of trial and error. I think we can be certain of several things. First, technology improvements generally pay off. Second, the pace of technology improvements will not slow down; in fact, they will most likely accelerate in the future. The bottom line: Avoiding these seven deadly pitfalls will improve your bottom line.”  

While it may seem the world of technology just gets more cluttered and complicated, Climate FieldView™ platform is a digital platform by The Climate Corporation that breaks through the clutter. It works with most brands and models of equipment (less than 10 years old) and permits ag producers and professionals to manage all their data on one platform regardless of what platform it was collected with. The beauty of this system versus others is the amazing ease of use. For those who are nervous about the complexity and difficulty of using precision tools, this is a great tool for you. Even I, a silver-haired grandfather, can operate the FieldView platform easily. It allows producers to review all the information they collect into one system for easy analysis including fertilization, planting, spraying and harvest. And, if you have been using other systems in the past, most historical data can be uploaded onto the FieldView platform for analysis and decision-making.  

At WestBred® wheat, we believe wheat producers can benefit from utilizing a tool like the Climate FieldView platform in their farming operation to deliver improved efficiency while maximizing productivity. If you have an interest in trying the Climate FieldView tool, contact your WestBred representative or WestBred seed supplier to discover how you can try it free for one year and start reaping the benefits of precision technology on your farm today.

What farming technology can you not live without? Let us know on WestBred wheat’s Facebook or Twitter, or by emailing the.tiller@westbred.com.