It was a busy week recently at Doug Scott Farms in Sikeston, Mo., including a trip to Ankeny, Iowa, for a Gold Key Delivery of a new cotton picker, and a visit with Tech@Work, where Doug discussed the cotton crop and how he and sons Jerod and Taylor engage tech tools.
“It’s very easy to find things,” Doug noted. “You can call up fields on your phone and know the variety, what was sprayed and when. That’s going to help our harvest planning, too.”
Long an adopter of tools to boost farm efficiency, the family this year tried a program to push their tech further, which entailed using new maps and accessing information on mobile apps. With the John Deere Operation Center system, Doug can see what he wants and when.
Jerod and Taylor are more involved, too, engaging the tech by using maps they aligned ahead of planting. In season, the Scotts know what’s been treated and where it is. And that’s going to be important as cotton harvest nears, from timing harvest aids to scheduling fields.
In-season data access has value, too. They key is sharing data with trusted advisers. “The Scotts can determine what level of sharing they want to do as well,” said Matt Johnson, Greenway Equipment, Sikeston. “You can share a specific field or a whole farm with someone. And you can shut off that sharing easily, too.”
Information sharing is important when working with consultants. While the Scotts’ current advisers aren’t sharing the data from the app, they can get access to planting and spraying maps when needed. Sounds simple these days, but it’s adding convenience and efficiency to this operation.
“But I am concerned about how we share our data,” Doug said. “That’s an issue that will be more important as we use more of these tools on our farms.”
Strolling through a field near home, Doug was cautious. Looking at a cotton crop that’s still green, but showing a solid number of bolls can make a farmer optimistic. Yet Doug hedged his comments knowing that there’s a lot of “nature” between the field visit and when pickers roll.
“This may be one of my best cotton crops,” he said. “But we’re watching the weather. We’re getting rain here when we normally don’t, and that can lead to boll rot.”
The disease, which starts at the bottom of the cotton plant, robs yield from the bottom-connected bolls, which can be the heaviest-fiber producers.
Yet cooler weather has let the cotton flourish, and a new CP690 picker will help harvest run more smoothly.
The CP690 has a moisture sensor and scales for accurate field production information. Measuring cotton yield is more complicated given the nature of the crop. Doug said he’s looking forward to having yield information earlier than in the past.
“We would have to wait on the gin to pick up the bales and weigh them, and that could take several days,” he said. “Now we’ll have that information much more quickly.” The system delivers yield information to the Operation Center as each field is finished.
Doug has a Phytogen test plot with 13 cotton varieties. He’s interested to see how running the picker with the latest yield mapping tools will give him more information faster from those fields.
“We can see differences, but will we see them when we pick?” he asked. “It’s also a lot easier for us to know what varieties are planted in which parts of the field.”
Added knowledge is a key benefit of these tech tools. Knowing what’s going on in the field throughout the season is also important. For Doug Scott Farms, it’s welcome information.