The path to leveraging precision farming information is a rocky one for Charles Augello at CY Farms near Elba, N.Y. Farming 5,500 acres of strip-tilled corn and soybeans as well as conventionally sown wheat, peas, cabbage and turf, CY Farms finds its fields, which average less that 25 acres in size, an obstacle to leveraging precision farming equipment and data.
The farm runs three AFS Pro 700 monitors on its predominantly Case IH equipment for row crops, spraying and harvesting. One monitor is shared between the Magnum 260 tractor and 16-row Kinze 3600 planter and the Case IH 7120 combine on tracks. Another monitor is mounted in the Patriot 3230 sprayer with a 90 foot boom and 5 section shut off. The third monitor is mounted in the tractor that pulls the 16-row Kuhn Krause Gladiator strip-till unit.
All three monitors work off of an RTK correction signal. Augello doesn’t variable-rate seed or fertilize because their data looks more like a patchwork quilt than a compilation of useful farm information.
Point of Pain: Collecting Big Data in Small Fields
Having used the same precision setup for several years, Augello is hoping to take the next step into leveraging information gathered by technology to better manage farm operations,
“We are going into our fourth year of using precision technology for tractor guidance, row shut-off and yield data collection,” he says. “We want to use it for variable-rate seeding and fertility, but our data is too spotty to implement those capabilities yet.”
Augello manages more than 400 small fields and as he tries to transfer A-B lines from one monitor to another, finds he can’t simply load the information on a memory stick and transfer it over.
“We must bring the data through FarmWorks software on our laptop before it can be moved to another monitor,” he says. “We need one person following the equipment with a pickup and the laptop to transfer the data.”
There is so much data being transferred back and forth due to small field sizes, the systems lock up and we have to shut off the monitors and restart them, he says, so they end up losing any data up to that point.
“It seems the software is better set up for larger fields rather than smaller fields,” Augello says. “When we lose that data, we can’t begin to variable-rate fertilizer or seed, which would be helpful because our soil types are highly variable. It has been very frustrating.”
The local precision farming equipment dealer is stumped as well, Augello says. While they have been helpful working with Augello on a solution and being the go-between with the AFS experts, they are just as frustrated as he is.
Augello says they have been able to collect reliable planting and yield data on just 50% of their fields,
“We’ve invested a great amount of money and time and endured a good amount of downtime in getting this system to work,” he says. “We are not where we want to be. It’s very disappointing, but we hope this is the year we can get the data transferred more easily.”