Precision application of crop protection and crop enhancement products is a growing area of business in agriculture. Add in the need for farmers to cover more acres in a day, and tools that do double-duty offer potential as well. Amvac is working on its SIMPAS product with an eye toward boosting efficiency and offering farmers greater flexibility during application.
Amvac, known for its SmartBox technology, which is used widely for application of a range of products at planting, is refining SIMPAS, which stands for Smart Integrated Multi-Product Prescription Application System. Farm Progress got a look at the next-stage development of the product during the Farm Progress Show, where a multi-hued planter tool bar was on display, along with other features of the product.
Rick Rice, who’s heading up development of the tool at Amvac, walked through the tools available. “We’re working to keep this simple, including our injection system,” he explained. “We’re using a cartridge-based system, so if something goes wrong, we know the farmer hasn’t got a lot of time in season for repairs. They can simply swap in a new part.”
It’s that approach that will appeal to many. The system is designed so that each planter row unit would hold up to three containers, which could include a mix of dry or liquid product for application. Rice showed how easy it is to swap in a new liquid container, with easy snap-on connectors to get product into the system. Unhooking a liquid container and bringing in a dry product for application, is simple, too.
MODEL EXAMPLE: This model shows how a pallet of SIMPAS containers would arrive at a dealership. Each pallet carries 48 containers. Note that the individual containers have protrusions and matching indents to provide stable stacking for storage.
There’s growing interest for in-furrow application of products from fungicides to insecticides. Rice added that increasing interest in the use of biologicals, which can’t always be part of a seed treatment, has potential for the system as well.
At the show display, SIMPAS was set up on a range of row units at the show including Kinze, John Deere and Case IH. “We’re showing that this system will work with any planter,” Rice explained.
And the system is getting field time, too. Caleb Schultz, Simplot Grower Solutions, shared that the company used the system on 1,100 acres in the 2018 season. “It was a good look at proof of concept for this product,” he said.
With SIMPAS, there’s a change at the dealership where farmers buy product. “With our SmartBox system, farmers would return partially empty containers,” Rice said. “We would ship those back to the plant for refilling.”
While SmartBox has been a success, SIMPAS aims to take that refill idea to the local level. Rice explained that when released to the market, local dealerships would have refill capability. “We won’t be shipping containers back to a central plant,” Rice said.
Each container also has an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip that tracks product used, so a farmer only pays for what’s applied. There are other logistical issues to solve, such as whether partial containers can be stored for the next season.
Schultz added that at the dealer level, the idea of refilling containers will need to be worked out. “It’s a challenge, but as a retailer we’re focused on helping farmers. We’ll have to work to get over the hurdles of implementing a new system,” he said.
Rice pointed out that with the tracking system on each container, and the ability to refill locally, SIMPAS would be reducing the environmental footprint of delivering product to the field. That’s a story worth telling.
Pallets and handling
At the show, Rice had a compact model of a pallet of containers as they might be delivered to a dealer. “Each pallet would carry 48 containers,” he explained. “And each container is designed to fit together. This is a standard-size pallet, and that will make it easier for the dealer to store and manage containers in the off season.”
SIMPAS could be available as early as the 2020 season, depending on further development of the refill system and working with dealers. Farmers attending the 2019 Farm Progress Show will get a look at the entire system from dealer to field, including a model refilling station.
In 2017, Amvac made a deal with Trimble for global distribution rights for the SIMPAS prescription application equipment, and the Trimble Vantage distribution network will support installation of the system on planters when it comes to market.
You can see how SIMPAS works at amvac-chemical.com.