To write about auto-section boom shut-off is one thing. To show how quickly it could pay for it itself in saving chemicals over applied during overlap and on the ends, and in preventing crop injury, is another thing. But the clincher to understanding the beauty of the technology is to actually see it work in the field.
Glen Slabaugh applies fertilizer and chemicals for Clunette elevator in northern Indiana. He was named Custom applicator of the year for the nation by AGCO Application Equipment last year. He let me ride along recently while he was spreading fertilizer on a farm field near Leesburg.
The area covered appeared on the Ag Leader computer screen. Since this was a variable -rate application, not all of the areas were filled in. He covered the field, but sometimes the applicator shut itself off, and then restarted when the map prescription installed into the computer in advance called for fertilizer.
I noticed a bank of switches to his right. He said those controlled the various boom sections on the applicator. He could shut them off manually. But the machine would also shut off a section automatically if the computer told it that the area had already been covered. That's what I wanted to see in action.
So Slabaugh purposely overlapped a section where he had made an application. Sure enough, two of the five sections, those running over the area where fertilizer had already been applied on a previous pass, shut down. A small diagram at the bottom of the computer screen indicated that those sections were now shut off and not applying fertilizer. When he drove back into new territory where no fertilizer had been applied, those empty cells filled in, signifying that all sections were applying fertilizer.
The technology works. And if you haven't tried it yet, it's worth riding with someone who has it to see it work. It won't take long to make you a believer.