A wise old ag teacher, Jim Cummings, Jackson County, told his students that 'you don't want to be first to try something, but you definitely don't want to be the last.' That applied years and years ago when he taught, and it still applies today.
The precision farming train is beginning to leave the station. Those who are deeply involved are headed toward a higher level of precision farming. But more trains will follow to welcome aboard those who still want to join in on using technology to become more efficient.
At a recent customer meeting of Stewart Seeds, Greensburg, agronomist Justin Petrosino asked customers how many of them owned planters that allowed them to change seeding rate on the go. To display farmers' answers, he used an electronic clicker system that instantly communicates each person's response to his software and displays the findings in bar graph form on the screen.
So what do you think they said? Do you think it's only 10%? Maybe it's 25%? Could it be 50% or more?
If you went for the middle choice, you were close. About 27% said they currently have a planter that could change rates on the go.
Next question: If you have a planter that can change rates on the go, how many of you will use it to vary rates in 2013 in corn?
The answer was a 50/50 split. Fifty percent said they intended to vary rates, but 50% said they didn't. That's not surprising considering that farmers at other meetings throughout the winter have split on whether they believe varying seeding rates for corn pays. Some say it saves seed and helps yield. Others say it hasn't saved seed because they put more on better ground than they would otherwise. They also say they haven't seen yield increases.
Bob Nielsen says the place he sees for varying rates is if you have a low productivity soil, say with 1320 bushel top potential, in the same field in the same rows as a more productive soil. Otherwise, he hasn't seen a benefit for the technology.