Going into their fifth year of precision farming data collection, Joseph Brightly says the family farm is getting ready to leverage the information they’ve collected in the previous 4 years. But it’s taken some outside help to get that data to the point that it provides payback on their 2,000-acre operation near Hamlin, N.Y.
Brightly farms with his father, Dean and brother, Paul, strip-tilling corn, soybeans and vegetable and vine crops. Today, they use an RTK correction signal from their own base station to guide two Trimble FM 1000 and five FM 750 monitors.
They use a New Holland 9882 tractor with a Trimble EZ-Guide system controlled by an FM-750 monitor for fall vertical tillage in some fields and variable-rate apply potash and lime with a Chandler pull-behind spreader and a Case IH Puma 210 tractor controlled by an FMX-1000 monitor. They also may apply a straight-rate of fertilizer on some fields with a Kuhn Krause Gladiator strip-till unit, pulled by a Case IH 540 Quadtrac tractor.
Their 16-row Kinze planter with Monosem precision vacuum planter units also applies starter fertilizer. It’s pulled by a Magnum 290 tractor and controlled by a monitor for steering and applies pop-up fertilizer with a SureFire Ag system with dual metering tubes. A Precision Planting monitor controls row shut-offs and seed population.
“We will use it for variable-rate seeding this year,” Brightly says. “This is the first year that we’ve had enough data to try variable-rate seeding.”
On about one quarter of their corn ground, they will sidedress 28% nitrogen with Anthio pesticide. Their AGCO RoGator 1100 sprayer with a 120 foot boom uses a monitor for steering and a Raven Viper Pro for its 7-section swath control. At harvest, the Case IH 8120 combine has an EZ-Guide 500 steering control and a Case IH Pro 600 monitor to collect yield data.
Points of Pain: Calibration, Standardization & Data Synthesis
After 4 years of using an array of precision hardware, Brightly looks back and cites equipment calibration as one of the biggest challenges to getting the most out of the technology.
“It’s no one’s fault,” he says. “It just takes time and being familiar with the equipment. Our dealer was learning as we were learning. I would like to see the system setup be more intuitive, like how a smart phone or tablet works.”
Once they started collecting data, it became apparent the monitors were using different A-B lines and that fields weren’t named uniformly.
“We got to the point where we had almost 4 years of data, but then what do we do with it?” Brightly says. “We had data from Ag Leader, Trimble and Case IH monitors that were inconsistent and couldn’t tell us much.”
They hired a consultant to standardize the field names and set up a consistent A-B line for each field. The consultant also helped standardize the field and yield data so they could start analyzing it.
With management zones in place, Brightly says they will start experimenting with variable-rate fertilizer and seeding rates in 2015.
“I hope the transition goes well,” he says. “Our dealer has been very helpful, but I wish it were easier. We aren’t electrical engineers.”