The Missouri Bootheel is a diversified cropping area with cotton as king. That’s true for Doug Scott and his farm near Sikeston. This diversified operation raises corn, soybeans and cotton, with that latter crop covering a big part of the farm’s acres. And for several years, Scott has been using some key equipment technology to boost efficiency.
“I’ve been using autosteer since the brown box,” Doug recalls, remembering his first GPS-directed system that relied on John Deere’s first controller. “In our area, we use furrow irrigation, and we have to till straight for best results.” That need to keep the tractor straight and line up tillage was a natural for autosteering.
Scott, who now farms with his sons, Jerod and Taylor, is a fourth-generation farmer. He and his family are part of the next Tech@Work project. While the Scotts have long used AutoTrac and GPS RTK with Starfire receivers, and collected yield information from their harvest equipment, they’ve not taken the next step: putting their data to work.
“I see that as an opportunity,” Doug says. “I know there’s information we can be using on our farm, and we want to keep farming better.”
One advance that will make putting that information to work easier is the use of cloud computing and a web-based data platform. “When it was on our desktop computer, it just wasn’t easy to use,” Doug says.
The advent of the John Deere Operation Center means that Scott will have access to his field information when needed, especially when making decisions. And as part of this program, he’s adding JDLink tech to his machines as well, to better manage logistics.
The farm has an experienced crew of workers who get the job done. The current crew includes six full-time employees along with the Scotts.
Tech and the next generation
Jerod, the oldest son, got his degree in political science from Mississippi State University with an aim to work in government, but the lure of the farm called him home. “I like being outside, I like to hunt, and I like farming,” he says. “And I’m excited to get more involved with the technology we’re going to use for the future.”
The web-enabled platform means Doug, as well as Jerod and Taylor, can review information for decision-making. They can also share that information with partners.
Taylor is back on the farm after he discovered that while being a record producer had potential, so did working on the family farm operation. “And I get to be outside,” he says with a smile. “I’m excited about using the new tools, too, and I have a tech background that I think will come in handy.” Taylor graduated from Blackbird Academy in Nashville, Tenn., with a degree in audio engineering.
Doug says he’s just familiar enough with technology to get work done, but he is ready to put that data to work, and having his sons more involved in that part of the operation helps, too. “I think this will be a good place for them to be involved,” he says.
Matt Johnson, precision ag specialist, Greenway Equipment, Sikeston, will be working with the Scotts during this season. He says he has several customers at the same level as the Scotts. “Many customers have a lot of data, but they’re doing little with it. But more of them see the opportunity,” he says. “With the Scotts, we’ll see how we can put this data to use for the future.”
Keep watching the Scotts as they engage in data for 2018. Follow them at farmfutures.com/tech-work.