While most growers strategize how to get season-long weed control, Joel Armistead has strategized as much to figure out how he can get the very most from his precision farming systems.
Armistead is no stranger to precision farming tools. He’s increasingly incorporated electronic control systems into his 1,400-acre corn, soybean and wheat operation near Adairville, Ky.
“We started with AutoFarm RTK auto-steering on two tractors and a base station installed on our grain leg about 10 years ago,” he recalls.
His Lexion 570 combine came outfitted with an Ag Leader InSight monitor that captured yield and moisture data.
“We looked at it closely and realized we could use it to use it to control our 60-foot Hardi sprayer,” Armistead says. “The unit could control application rate as well as provide auto shut-off on irregular-shaped fields.”
When he traded in his Lexion combine, the new model came equipped with an Ag Leader Integra monitor that has a larger screen and allows more single-screen function monitoring and easier on-screen navigation.
“I also use this monitor on the sprayer,” Armistead says. “It has ISOBUS connectors that make installation simple. It’s practically plug-and-play.”
This year, Armistead upgraded to a Hardi Commander 4400 sprayer. It came equipped with ISO-compliant connectors that allow swath control in 10-foot sections. The ISO capability greatly simplifies switching the system from one piece of equipment to another.
What Farmers Want From You is a series of farmer profiles that examine the scope of precision farming tools individual farmers are using on their operation, along with the frustrations that can occur with adopting new technology and how dealers can alleviate those "points of pain" for farm customers. For the latest additions to the series, visit our What Farmers Want From You feed.
“It’s simple and reliable,” Armistead says.
The boom is outfitted with a Norac auto boom height system that automatically controls boom height and tilt to match crop height or topography.
At harvest, the Ag Leader Integra system goes back into the combine to capture yield data.
“With this system and auto-steering, operating the combine is less stressful,” Armistead says. “When it is really dry and windy, this system takes over and you don’t have to be looking exactly where the edge of the grain head is in relation to the row. It’s easy to get hooked on using it.”
Over the years, Armistead says calibration or installation issues have been minimal.
“I read everything I can so I can learn from others’ challenges,” he says. “I prefer to buy full systems instead of trying to mix and match components to build a specific system. That has worked the best for me.”
Point of Pain: Technical Support
Dealer support is improving, but those adopting this technology must apply ingenuity when troubles arise, Armistead says, based on his experience with precision products.
“When I installed the Ag Leader sprayer kit on my first sprayer, it took three days to identify a problem with the boom section shut-off,” he says. “We were anxious to get out and spray wheat and I spent three days in the back yard trying things and talking to Ag Leader support persons on the phone. The Ag Leader dealer at the time was two hours away, and I thought this would be an easy fix, so I took it on.”
Armistead says he ended up using a paper clip bent into a U shape to jump across low-voltage connections to identify the problem.
It turns out two wires were switched when the unit was assembled at the factory. When he switched those wires, the system worked.
“I asked the Ag Leader dealer if he thought I would be able to get reimbursed under warranty for my time and effort, and the dealer told me that Ag Leader doesn’t reimburse dealers for warranty work,” Armistead says. “I don’t think that is fair to the dealer, but I suppose if the equipment is that reliable, warranty costs aren’t an issue.”