When purchasing precision farming equipment, Minnesota no-tiller Myron Sylling prefers to have dealers give him as much detail as possible.
“I would like the dealer to tell me more than just about Component A. I also want to know about Components B, C and D that I will need to make this system work with my equipment,” says Sylling, who no-tills 1,200 acres of non-GMO corn and seed soybeans with his father and brother near Spring Grove, Minn.
This was his experience when he attempted to get his sidedressing toolbar with a JD rate controller to talk with his Trimble GreenSeeker crop sensor for nitrogen applications. The crop sensor was set up to only work with Raven controllers out of the box, and it took quite a bit of research for Sylling to find out that they needed a Raven 440 serial interface unit with an RS 232 port to act as a go-between for the two systems.
Before getting into farming full time, Sylling had formal training in computer programming and worked 18 years with industrial computers and programmable logic controller (PLC) systems. This gave him more background than most when he began adopting precision farming technology. For this reason, he can get frustrated easily when dealing with frontline support people on the phone.
“I understand they must follow their line of questioning, but I am steps ahead of most people who call in for support,” he says. “I am taking their valuable time when they could be helping someone else, when I really need to be talking to the next line of support who can handle more technical questions.”
The Syllings farm is in the far southeastern corner of Minnesota, near the Mississippi River. The scenic area is simply too challenging for earlier auto-steer systems that couldn’t take the variability of the topography.
“Almost all of our fields are highly erodible land (HEL) and some have 20% slopes. When we first adopted Deere’s auto-steer technology, we found it could work well on flat ground, but it could not compensate for the terrain,” Sylling says. “They added terrain compensation 2 years later, and it is getting better, but implement drift is still a challenge because of it,” he says.
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.
However, Sylling says their John Deere RowSense corn head does a decent job of auto-steering, but it is hard to use on tight contours.
Point of Pain: Selfish Information Sharing
The Syllings have a Hagie self-propelled sprayer with an Ag Leader Integra monitor. Running Deere equipment, the Hagie sprayer and attempting to get both systems to share data with Trimble’s Farm Works software can be a lesson in frustration, Sylling says.
“The Farm Works system can’t read all of the Integra data directly, so I have to manually add in the tank mixes field by field, then double check that the data imported correctly. ” he says. “Similarly, the John Deere system’s A-B contour lines can’t be transferred to the Integra, so we have to drive new lines with the other control. These systems should communicate better to make sharing data easier. I understand Deere and Ag Leader are working on this, but it’s not there yet.”