An early adopter of precision farming practices, Roger Wenning remembers using his Massey Ferguson combine in the 1980s to weigh grain as it offloaded and then tracked yield patterns with an early monitor.
Today, he and his sons, Nick and Kevin, and farming partner, Marita Field, continue to adopt precision technology on their 620 acre no-till operation near Greensburg, Ind. They also operate an excavation and tiling business.
In 2013, they incorporated an Ag Leader Integra controller into the operation on the planter and collect yield data in their combine at harvest. They also added an Apache self-propelled sprayer with a Raven nine-section controller for the 90 foot boom. For both purchases, dealer support drove their satisfaction with the units.
The Wennings grid-sample about half of their fields to identify maintenance fertility needs. They then apply ag lime, sometimes as little as a half-ton per acre, if it’s needed, Roger says. They will also seed cover crops aerially or drill them in.
“We replaced our old sprayer with a five-section, 60 foot boom with an Apache self-propelled sprayer with a Raven unit that controls nine sections on the 90-ft. boom,” Roger says. “The sprayer sections are automatically turned on and off by GPS to prevent overlap.”
Then, the Wennings use the Integra and their homemade strip-till unit to variable- rate fertilizer in a band, 4-5 inches deep. This method, combined with planting twin-row corn with a Great Plains planter, consistently gets them a 7 bushel per acre bump in corn, Roger says.
“The controller can variable-rate corn population and we hope to set it up to variable-rate nitrogen application,” Roger says. “We plant soybeans with a Kinze 12 row unit on 15 inch centers, and it is not set up for variable-rate seeding at this time, but we plan on adding that next year.”
They pull the planters with a John Deere 7810 tractor, which has the hydraulic capacity to run the pneumatic seed units. The Wennings rely only on lightbars for row navigation, which Roger admits isn’t as accurate as RTK, but a cost-effective solution for the time being.
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.
“We know it’s not as exact as auto-steer, but we weighed the expense vs. the other things we wanted to do, and we will stick with lightbars for now,” he says. “We are sure sub-inch accuracy is something we want in the future. Just not now.”
Points of Pain: Hitting the Restart Button
As the Wennings have incorporated more precision equipment over the years, Roger says two important points stand out that make this equipment usable — dealer support and the ability to program controllers without getting caught in a loop that won’t let him switch programming screens.
“We are quite impressed with the controller we have, but wish our data from the Loup yield monitor could have been transferred to it,” Roger says. “We are starting over this fall collecting yield data, but the controller unit will match the yield data with variety and population data from planting.”
With Roger’s past experience with precision equipment, he also understands the value of good technical support.
“Next time I buy any precision equipment, I am going to grill the dealership’s technical support people. That will weigh heavily on which equipment we select,” he says. “We also are looking for easier to use equipment.”
“I really appreciate screens that allow me to go back without saving, so I can start over. Please make sure it’s set up so that what I do doesn’t cause me to lose data.”