If you need help identifying drainage issues and suggestions for remedies, Long Enterprises of Peck is starting a new service — aerial mapping your topography to help you make better decisions.
"My grandad would just shake his head at some of things that are becoming routine to farming today," says owner Larry Long, who farms his family farm in Sedgwick and Sumner counties in addition to running a full-service drainage company.
He says he just started working with aerial mapping after watching a demonstration by Neodesha-based drone manufacturer Ag Eagle.
The past year has been a wet one in southern Kansas, and Long says his farm along the Ninnescah River, which hit a record flood stage in September, was hard hit. One of the problems following flooding is the damage to terraces and the need to restore the best contouring.
As a no-tiller for 19 years, Long doesn't like to move any more dirt than absolutely necessary.
"I try to stay away from land leveling," he says. "I don't want to rip up topsoil. It's bad enough to lose it to wind or water erosion, but to help it along — I just can't do that."
For most of the past couple of decades, Long says, he has been adding technology to his core business of helping customers address drainage issues with surface work such as contouring or terracing, or in especially heavy runoff areas, the installation of drainage tile.
He offers GPS mapping, design, drainage consultation and installation of surface and tile systems.
"We have the ability to install gates in the tiling systems so we can retain the water and hold it so it doesn't run off. We can maintain the soil saturation level until the crop is mature, then we can open the gates and drain out whatever is left to let the field dry up enough we can harvest it."
Just as he has added precision typography mapping and computer-aided design to create surface drainage systems, Long says the addition of drone photography and mapping will add another layer of data to help serve his customers.
He is currently trying to hire another worker for his operation, but finding the right candidate is hard, he says.
"The problem is, I need someone who can help with the farming operation, but who is also computer-savvy and knows how to do some drainage system installation, and enough about the equipment line I sell to help with that," he says.
Long Enterprises sells Hemisphere/Outback GPS and TopCon lasers, Futtura lasers, receivers and machine control laser towers, grade rods, tripods and Holcomb scrapers, and GoldDigger tile plows with AgLeader Intellislope control.
"I don't have any one full-time job. What I need is someone who can wear a half-dozen hats and take on whatever needs to be done on a given day," he says.
Ideally, he says, he'll find a young person raised on a farm with the experience that offers, plus some of additional technical education in precision ag equipment and techniques.
"It's pretty easy to find kids today who want a paycheck. Unfortunately, a lot of them don't actually want the job that you need them to do to collect it," he says. "But I'm sure that the right person will come along."