Patience plays into any precision farming manager’s profile. Whether with customers, manufacturers or direct reports, the ability to calmly and confidently problem-solve, often under pressure, is a prerequisite for the position.
Few have the temperament to thrive in the role, and fewer can navigate the rapid expansion, employee turnover and bulk training. These are the tests Nick Rust, precision ag coordinator with H&R Agri-Power faces and even relishes on a daily basis.
For the latest Day in Cab experience, I had the opportunity to ride along with Nick during the course of Farm Equipment’s dealership-wide profile of H&R Agri-Power as part of the Dealership Minds coverage. While it was an abbreviated adventure, there was no shortage of technical challenges, mentoring successes and
9:10 a.m. Already in Hopkinsville, Ky., with 7 colleagues from Lessiter Media for an in-depth dealership profile on H&R Agri-Power, I rendezvous with Nick and we join Matthew Peterson, precision ag specialist-in training, outside the dealership. It’s a seasonably nice morning and we hop into Nick’s Dodge Ram which has accumulated about 89,000 miles in less than 3 years. It’s equipped with Fleettrack GPS to everything from idle time to whether the driver is wearing a seat belt. A few boxes for the morning’s job — a steering installation at a sod farm — rest in the back seat, along with a spare shirt and jacket.
“It’s hurry up and wait season,” Nick says, with many customers having wrapped up corn harvest, in the midst of soybean harvest or planting winter wheat. “In this part of the world, nothing starts until 10 or 11 a.m. until the dew has evaporated.”
Check Out the Day In the Cab Video
Take a closer look at a day in the life on the job with Nick Rust, precision ag coordinator with H&R Agri-Power, through exclusive video filmed during Precision Farming Dealer’s Day in the Cab.
9:55 a.m. We arrive at Jason Newberry’s 200-acre sod farm in Clarksville, Tenn., and find his New Holland TL90A tractor parked outside. Nick promptly moves the tractor into the nearby shed, noting that the shade will be welcome cover later on.
He and Matthew — who is in store for his first installation — unpack the hardware for an FM 750 and Trimble EZ-Pilot mechanical steering system, but find a key part is missing. “We don’t have a motor,” Nick says. He instructs Matthew to get started on the install and makes a few calls to other stores to see if and when a motor can be ordered and delivered. “Well, I guess we’re not going to be doing as much I hoped because I don’t think we have one close.”
While this type of install on a small horsepower tractor is a “niche job” Nick says it can also be a lucrative one, selling the mechanical steering kit for $12,500, vs. a hydraulic system, which is more “We’ve done probably a good 20 or 30 of these in the last 6-7 years,” he says.
10:45 a.m. Jason stops by and Nick explains the situation, noting a motor will be delivered and installed within the next 24 hours and meet Jason’s timeline of getting into the field with the system to mow. In the meantime, Matthew is working on replacing the steering wheel in the tractor cab with the new steering kit, under Nick’s watchful eye.
He reminds Matthew that they need to be dialed into the job at hand. “We can’t charge $130 per hour if we’re talking to someone else on the phone. We’re on Jason’s clock right now.”
11:22 a.m. “Got it all figured out, Matt?” jokes Nick as Matthew is wrapping up the steering installation. Nick’s teaching style is a mix of direct guidance and allowing Matthew to learn as he goes. Mixed into the mentoring, Nick engages Jason on learning more about his equipment fleet and any other short- and long-term opportunities to provide additional precision solutions.
“Jason has a sprayer, which definitely opens up some precision opportunities and also a 330-horsepower Case IH Steiger tractor that he’s having some issues with, so that opens up some service options as well. Then he’s also talking about adding a second tractor in the future so we can mimic the system we’re installing today in the future.”
11:45 a.m. Jason departs and Matthew moves on to installing the monitor bracket on the inside of the tractor door while Nick begins running the cables through the back of the cab and mounting “We’ve got an hour to get this done,” Nick notes.
"We can’t charge $130 per hour if we’re talking to someone else on the phone during a job..." – Nick Rust
Throughout the process, Nick mixes in a series of questions for Matthew, asking about tools needed for specific task, and then connects the dots on why something needs to be done a certain way, whether it’s having the right u-shaped bolt for a bracket or the right set of wrenches.
“You aren’t to zip-tying yet,” he tells Matthew during the monitor installation. “You need to get the Trimble IMD-600 terrain compensation module mounted first or how are you going to know where you are going with those cables? So where are we going to mount that IMD-600? This is your install, but I’m here to help.”
12:26 p.m. Nick keeps the lighthearted pressure on by telling Matthew that he’s close to cutting into lunch time. “I turn into a diva by 3 p.m. if I don’t eat lunch,” Nick jokes. They proceed with mounting the IMD-600 on the back of the driver’s seat in the cab, but during the process break a bolt head. “And we’ll proceed with the improvising,” Nick says. “These days can require a lot of patience, but patience comes from having an 18-month-old daughter.”
1:10 p.m. More than a dozen zip ties later to hold cabling in place, Nick asks Matt what the next step is. Matt correctly answers, “to mount the receiver.” To which Nick replies, “Where should this go and why?” In another teachable moment during the day, Nick explains the best positioning is centered toward the front of the cab’s top because that will ensure the best reception.
1:36 p.m. With the receiver secure, Matthew powers up the display and gets the unlock for a CenterPoint RTX subscription which will provide 1.5-inch accuracy. Nick checks his phone and finds he’s about 5 messages behind for the day, which he calls “standard” for this time of year.
2:12 p.m. Aside from the motor, the rest of the installation is complete and we pack up and proceed back to the store in Hopkinsville. Along the way, Nick spots a dead opossum on the roadside and introduces me to an unfamiliar saying. “You know, if you see a dead opossum on the road, that means it’s going to rain within 24 hours.” On cue, the clouds start rolling in and Nick’s statement proves to be prophetic later that evening.
It’s a fitting finish to an abbreviated, but eventful and educational day in the cab.