The rush of spring work is what a lot of farmers really like about the business. The work is hard, but the focus on that fall reward is what drives many. And while it may sound counterintuitive, it’s also a good time to do a tech checkup on your operation. We’re not talking about a replacement checkup where you’re adding new gear — this is more of a health checkup to determine if the tools you’re using are right for the future. Here are a few top tech areas to evaluate this spring season as you plan for the future:
1. Planting speed and efficiency.
Are you maximizing your planting operation? The general rule of thumb is that you can plant your entire crop in two weeks — provided you have perfect, uninterrupted weather. If you’re geared to that level, then you can get the crop in at the optimum times nature provides. That could mean a bigger planter, or it could mean a faster planter. How many acres are you covering an hour? How is your crop spacing and appearance from planting at that speed?
2. Is in-furrow the way to go?
New crop protection and crop enhancement tools are being launched into the market that allow you to get that plant off to a healthy start. As those tools come to market, do you have the application equipment to take advantage of those tools? And, of course, rising concern over fall fertilizer may require you to look at preseason and early-season fertilizer application technologies, too.
3. Do you tend well?
A large challenge for any business is logistics — just ask the folks at Amazon. Providing support for equipment that’s in the field is a critical tool for maximizing your return on investment. What kind of downtime does your big planter have in any given day? What is your planting, or spraying, efficiency?
Running a $300,000 tractor and a $200,000 planter in the field is a significant investment in iron, not counting labor. Having that machine on the move, actively planting for the most hours in any scheduled workday is key; yet, support systems are critical. Bulk seed handling has been a boon to big-planter productivity. Where else can you improve?
4. Are you maximizing spraying efficiency?
This is a tough one in a year with $3.50 corn; however, you may want to look at application windows for optimum postemergence weed control and determine your spraying strategy. Did you apply key products at the best time for top control? Did your custom service hit that target regularly in-season? Optimum weed control, and even foliar fertilizer, application can add bushels per acre, but that often means having your own sprayer.
5. How do you evaluate these systems?
What tools are you using to evaluate machine efficiency and performance? With the data collection tools now available on most new equipment — and easily added to older machines — data collection will become easier in the future. You can maximize different operations and labor on your farm without these systems in place, though. Evaluate how you’re capturing information in your operation.
- Technology Decision Time is independently produced by Farm Industry News and brought to you through the support of Case IH. Learn more at farmindustrynews.com/decisiontime.