Editor’s note: You might have read Tech@Work in our sister publication Farm Industry News. Now look for it in Farm Futures. For past columns, visit farmfutures.com/tech-work.
Check at the end of this story for some video insight from the Kilmers.
Best laid plans don’t always unfold as you hope. That’s the case for Kilmer Farms. When Farm Futures visited during spring planting, the family was busy finishing up corn planting and everything looked fine. Then the weather soured.
“We had rain, then cold, then rain,” says Tim Kilmer, recalling the collapse of what started as a great season. “We had fields under water.”
For the younger Kilmers, that was actually something new. “We’d never seen anything like this in our farming lives,” says Dan Kilmer. “We had to work with Dad on this to make sure it all turned out right.”
Their dad, Darryl, has been through rough spring seasons in his career, and he did something not every farmer thinks to do when the stress of a replant season appears. “We stopped,” he says. “I sat the boys down, and we talked about what was going on. We were going to have to move fast and make a lot of decisions. And we wanted them to be right.”
With the calendar looming over their heads, that calm approach helped. The process of ordering replant seed corn started. Dan and Tim headed out to every field to figure out what areas would need replant. And a strategy developed.
“We determined which fields to plant and developed a plan,” Darryl says. Then the work began. But unlike past years, the family had AutoTrac autoguidance on machinery and as-planted maps as a guide.
Tech and replant
For Dan, perhaps the first surprise was being able to follow the same track the second time around. “We were able to keep the compaction in the same place we did with the first planting,” he notes. “That made sure we didn’t make it any worse.”
The rush of replant meant long hours in the tractor. “With autoguidance I could make sure I was planting straight, but could also Facetime with my son and read him a bedtime story every night,” Tim says. “That was valuable time to me.”
Dan adds that he also connected with his children every night of that replant rush to say good night — all while putting in a “new” crop.
While those factors are hard to put a price on, both Dan and Tim saw value in making those long hours productive and precise. And they could maintain some family connection, too.
Darryl says he liked that he could work long hours, enjoy a sandwich in the cab and know he was getting the work done right. “[The technology] really helped,” he says.
One tech the family used was the MyAnalyzer app, which allowed Tim to scout fields and know which hybrids were planted where. That was valuable in determining replant. “I could walk into a field and put in a pin and know what varieties were in that location,” he says.
Adds Dan: “We could see where the hybrids changed, and that helped us make good decisions in the field.” He also noted the information from the app is helpful in working with the crop insurance adjuster on determine exactly where replant occurred as the claims process begins.
As the replant came up and the weather calmed down, the Kilmers saw the benefit of their work. “The crop is looking very good, and we’re looking forward to a good harvest,” says Darryl.