Marc Padrutt next to tall corn Austin Keating
HEALTHY STAND: Marc Padrutt planted a variety of corn hybrids, using hybrids that mature early on fields vendors rely on to fine-tune and exhibit equipment at the Farm Progress Show.

FPS host farmer tries new tech in wet 2019

Farm Progress Show host Marc Padrutt reflects on technology and grain storage investments amid a wet growing season.

Farm Progress Show host farmer Marc Padrutt has a field on the Decatur, Ill., show grounds that will be ready for tillage demonstrations by the first day of this year’s three-day show, Aug. 27. While it was prioritized over the rest of his land, he still is hopeful for a good, dry crop on his other acreage — thanks to investments in new equipment and storage.

Like the other farmers charged with growing a healthy corn crop for vendors to exhibit new equipment on, Padrutt had to downgrade his hybrid selection due to the later-than-usual planting date of May 17. Rather than the Decatur show’s standard 94-day corn, he planted an 86-day hybrid.

For a plot a good distance away from Progress City on his Brush College Road farm, he went as low as 76-day corn so that John Deere has time to fine-tune equipment the week before the show. In mid-July, that stand had already pollinated.

“As long as the weather cooperates, we’ll have a harvestable demonstration crop,” Padrutt says. He’s been a host farmer since the show located to the permanent site in 2005.

Like many farmers throughout the Corn Belt, rain made planting difficult for Padrutt. While he was able to get all his crops planted before the end of May, the work had to be done in two-day spurts between intermittent rains.

“It definitely wasn’t ideal,” he says. “We didn't get stuck; got close a few times, but we stopped and turned around. We had to plant around the wet spots and then came back later to fill those in.”

Trying something new

Planting wasn’t the only operation affected by rain delays. In 2018, Padrutt wasn’t able to apply fall anhydrous ammonia on many of his acres. That’s why he tried sidedressing UAN in the spring with a new piece of equipment from Precision Planting that controls the flow of liquid fertilizer from a module called vApplyHD.

Austin KeatingMarc Padrutt

APPLY: Marc Padrutt equipped his tractor with Precision Planting’s vApplyHD modules for sidedressing nitrogen fertilizer following a wet fall when he couldn’t apply much anhydrous ammonia.

“I have been using Precision Planting products on the planter for years, and then I learned about this vApplyHD system,” Padrutt says. “I thought it would be a good fit. We were able to use it for this year's corn crop. The timing of that was perfect because of the late fall.”

He says the system tells him in real-time if there’s a mishap with applying fertilizer. A band of red popped up on a screen in his cab a few times during application, and upon further inspection, he found occasional plugged knives.

“Immediately, I knew I had plugged knives, and I got it cleaned out and it was good,” Padrutt says. “Also, since it was a new applicator, the way it was plumbed, there were some 90-degree fittings on there, which was just enough to not have enough pressure on the outside row. So I took those out, extended the hose and then it was fine.”

Austin Keatingfertilizer application display

NO RED: Within the cab of his tractor, Marc Padrutt saw problems with his fertilizer application system in real-time with vApplyHD. He was able to fix issues such as a plugged knife, which led to more accurate applications.

Being involved with the Farm Progress Show sometimes gives Padrutt a sneak peek at new equipment. It’s also helpful for him to go to the field demonstrations north of the show grounds during the show to see implements in action on his soil types.

“That’s basically a personalized demonstration. You can also talk directly to engineers, salespeople and developers, which is really handy,” he says.

Growing space

Padrutt goes to every day of the Farm Progress Show when it’s in Decatur. He’s seen it grow over the years.

“Vendors are always stepping up their exhibits,” he says. “It’s interesting to see how they improve with each show. Everything gets bigger or more impressive. A lot of creativity goes into it to draw more people,” he says.

Like GSI and Ag Growth International (AGI) at the Decatur show site, Padrutt has also increased the capacity of his on-farm grain storage facility. He started with a GSI grain bin and leg in 2008.

“Then we had that very slow and wet harvest in 2009. I said never again. So, in 2010, we built a GSI wet bin and a tower dryer,” he says, adding he eventually built an additional storage bin and an overhead grain tank, both from Sioux.

“This year, we have a lot more storage. We’re going to be able to hold 100% of the grain we harvest,” he says, concluding the setup will help him dry what’s all-but-guaranteed to be a late harvest, while also helping him fetch good prices from the Decatur processor market.

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