Farm Progress

The full-court press of planting

For Doug Scott Farms, updating tech and using the latest telemetry tools is already paying off

Willie Vogt

July 1, 2018

There’s nothing quite like the crunch of planting, no matter the crop. At Doug Scott Farms near Sikeston, Mo., getting this year’s crop in the ground meant three planters in the field at the same time. Each 12-row planter was fully wired so operators knew where they’d been and no overplanting happened. And the tech caught a problem early in the process.

During a Tech@Work visit, Matt Johnson, precision ag specialist at Greenway Equipment in Sikeston, caught a discrepancy on the John Deere MyOperations app on his phone. Johnson was given access to the Scott equipment telemetry. “We could see on the smartphone that one planter wasn’t planting at the same population,” he said.

A visit to the suspect tractor — in this case driven by Doug’s son, Jerod — meant checking settings on the tractor to find out what was happening. It turned out to be simple setup issue — the wrong disk was recorded in the system — but it showed that telemetry can help catch problems quickly.

“I had only planted 200 acres with that setup,” Jerod noted. “And we caught it early. If we hadn’t had this system, I could have planted everything and not seen it until later.”

For Doug, the news that the fix was simple was welcome relief during the busy planting season. “But this shows us how this technology can help us out,” he said.

Doug is also using the tech to track his test plots
this year. “We have a field with 13 cotton varieties we’re evaluating,” he said. “Using these tools will make it easier to evaluate those varieties.”

A winter project

On the last visit to the Scott operation, the family had pulled data from its equipment into the Operations Center software, and they found a jumble of maps and other data points. Those data files needed work.

In the interest of thinking about the next generation, Doug turned that task over to sons, Jerod and Taylor.

“I don’t want to say I’m not smart enough to do that, but they have the tech knowledge to use the software to bring that information together,” Doug said.

The “winter project” took some time, but the Scott brothers finished the task by the 2018 season. “It wasn’t easy,” Taylor said. “We worked with the software. We found field names were an issue, and lining that up was a chore.”

Taylor, who at one time worked in the recording industry, noted that after that work was done, the key was to back up those files.

“I don’t feel like it’s saved until you have the files stored in three places,” he said. “Having the information in the cloud really helps.”

Jerod added that having his dad turn the chore over to him and his brother was a big step. “My father was giving us a big responsibility; it was an important task for us,” he said. “My father is thinking about the future, even though he really only took over management of the farm himself from his father a few years ago.”

Technology is an inroad for next-generation farmers to engage in an operation. Add in that this tech, in particular, can help spot challenges, or opportunities, more easily, and the Scotts are already seeing benefits for the work.

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Willie Vogt has been covering agricultural technology for more than 40 years, with most of that time as editorial director for Farm Progress. He is passionate about helping farmers better understand how technology can help them succeed, when appropriately applied.

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