Dakota Farmer

Canadian farmer gives a thumbs-up after testing new Raven equipment on his operation.

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer

March 20, 2024

2 Min Read
Ben Voss, Raven Industries
TECH TALK: Ben Voss, director of sales for Raven Industries, speaks during a learning session at the 2024 Commodity Classic. He discussed a customer’s adoption of Raven’s Augmenta field analyzer.Sarah McNaughton

With so much new equipment and technology available to farmers, how do you get started on a precision agriculture journey? Canadian Brady Fahlman, a farmer from Holdfast, Saskatchewan, began a journey to bring the benefits of automation to his farm.

For Fahlman, smarter agriculture became a reality on his farm with Raven Industries’ Augmenta field analyzer, the newest addition to Raven’s Sense & Act portfolio. “We really rely on precision tools to help automate these processes,” he said during a session on farm autonomy at Commodity Classic in Texas earlier this year. “Going into the season, we use precision to orient processes and create efficiencies wherever we can.”

The benefits to autonomous farming include reduced labor costs, optimized use of resources and increased crop yields. During the session, Ben Voss, director of sales at Raven, said having customers like Fahlman share their journey to automation can help explain how other farmers can implement the same technologies into their operations.

Field-tested, farmer-approved

Fahlman Acres is a fifth-generation farm that grows wheat, pulses, canola and barley. The latest technology from Raven used on the farm is the Augmenta field analyzer. Fahlman said when he heard that Augmenta’s camera placed on top of a cab can span 138 feet, he knew it was the “easiest solution.” Plus, booms would not need to be changed, nor other items added to the sprayer.

Over the past decade, Fahlman Acres has been an early adopter of new technologies. Fahlman said he uses a five-step process to add precision farming into his operation, and encourages other farmers to consider implementing precision in these steps:

  1. guidance and steering

  2. machine automation and application controls

  3. connectivity

  4. emerging technologies

  5. preparation for autonomy

“I really liked the first time I saw everything. We could see all the options open to us, so we had to force ourselves to slow down the first year to make sure we understood the technology 100%,” Fahlman said.

With a tight time windows around planting and harvest, Fahlman said he was excited to finally see autonomy arrive to the farm, especially to save on labor. “We have a big focus on the logistics,” he said. “When we added these new technologies in, we wanted something that added efficiencies, something that our operators would also be comfortable with.”

Fahlman said that the immediate return on investment by using Augmenta shows the value of the system. “Augmenta took the guesswork out of deciding whether we were going to spray our lentils or not. We went out and did it, and knew that it was going in the right place and applied at the right spot,” he said.

No matter what type of operation, precision agriculture technologies can bring benefits to all farms. Fahlman’s path to autonomy can help farmers implement autonomous technology in stages, simplifying and automating operations gradually. Contact your local Raven Industries dealer for more information about bringing autonomy to your farm.

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About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

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