Brina NewcombePrecision is a hallmark of almost every field operation for Nova Scotia farmer Brian Newcombe. Even manure spreading is carefully controlled by auto-steer, load testing and load weighing with an on-farm scale.

“Moisture and weight changes from load to load, and that changes the spread pattern,” he explains. “The Outback GPS and auto-steer we use when applying manure can be more effective when we know the weight."

Samples are taken from all manure types as they head to the field. Newcombe uses that and GPS data compiled with SigaField software to get an accurate representation of nutrients applied. Then, data is compiled from numerous years to help calculate the next year’s application rates.

Newcombe installed Outback controlled auto-steer units on nearly every tractor on his farm.

“Outback representatives have been very willing to help me make the system work no matter what color my equipment is and get me up and going again quickly when I do run into problems,” he says.

Building on auto-steer, Newcombe invested in section control for his corn seeder.

“We saved about 6-8% in seed this first year due to our smaller, irregular fields,” he says.

He’d already seen similar success with his sprayer. In 2010, Newcombe purchased an Apache 1010 sprayer with Raven Smartrax auto-steer, AccuBoom and auto-boom with 10 section controls.

“Section control paid for itself in less than a year,” Newcombe says. The sprayer also allowed him to switch from sidedressing dry nutrients to applying in-season nitrogen with accuracy. In 2012, he took that accuracy a step further by purchasing and installing GreenSeeker units for nitrogen applications in wheat and corn.

Point of Pain: Adopting the Latest Technology

Putting his new GreenSeeker units to work turned out to be a significant hurdle for Newcombe and his Trimble dealer. His Raven Envizio controller software wouldn’t work to produce all the reports and mapping he needed for the new system. An upgrade to the new Raven Viper controller with new software wouldn’t work, either, leaving him to contemplate installing two monitors in his tractor. Cluttering his cab with monitors was not in Newcombe’s plan.

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.

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“It didn't work to pay the expense without being able to benefit from all the data,” Newcombe says. “My Trimble dealer had to do a lot of work to determine one system that would work to run  and produce reports for GreenSeeker and auto-steer, auto-boom and AccuBoom.”

The solution ended up being an older Viper monitor that would accept the new GreenSeeker software. While Newcombe is frustrated with Raven for not updating their units to be able to accept this new technology, he and his Trimble dealer were able to solve the problem.

This represents just as much of a headache for dealers as it does farmers, though. With a technology such as GreenSeeker that isn’t available from multiple manufacturers, dealers need to be prepared to solve the compatibility issue for their early adopter customers or risk them changing out their whole system.

“If you want me to use your product and it doesn’t work with the technology I want to use, you’ll have to make it work somehow or I’m going to have to go with a different company,” Newcombe explains.

Even the pace of technology has been a challenge for Newcombe and his dealers. A new air seeder brought a John Deere system into Newcombe’s precision technology mix.

“The John Deere system is very in depth and it’s been hard for our small dealers to keep up to date on what all the newer systems can do,” he says.

Problems with this new system resulted in quite the runaround for Newcombe. When his dealer couldn’t answer his questions, he was directed to call the John Deere support number. But they wouldn’t assist him because he didn’t have a paid plan for tech support. Wasting more valuable time, Newcombe had to circle back to the dealer, have them call tech support and get it figured out.

Newcombe's dealer could have saved him some runaround time by understanding how the tech support system works for different manufacturers and providing him with a more direct route to the solution.

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