We use the latest and the greatest when it comes to technology. All fields are geo-referenced and are on the computer. Maps are generated every time a piece of equipment drives over the field to do an operation, these maps are then observed on a computer or tablet to figure out what worked and what didn’t, allowing us to decide from our own on-farm trials what products or practises work and which ones don’t.
The technology is also at work in most of our machinery keeping spray on-target and never over-applying it. Swath Control Pro in our sprayer and planting units makes sure that no spray or seeds are overlapped at the ends of the fields and boundaries are set up so that products that are applied cannot go outside the field edges or the machine automatically stops applying. Rate controls do a very accurate job of applying the right amount of product to the right parts of the field.
Variable rate is currently being tested for fertilizer application. We do soil tests to check the health of the soil and what nutrients are available in that soil. We use these maps to find out where fertilizer is needed the most in the field and concentrate on those areas instead of a blanket application to the whole field. This increases crop yields and also reduces the amount of fertilizers we use.
For 2014 we will be introducing an aerial image mapping model aircraft to take pictures of fields during peak growing times. These pictures can then be processed on a computer to get standardized vegetation indexes to compare fields and zones within fields. This will help immensely with our crop scouting and should allow us to identify problem areas early enough that rescue treatments can be given.