By Brian Hoffman’s estimation, he’s had better than average luck adopting precision farming tools at Hoffman & Sons Inc., where he farms with his brother-in-law, Jesse Scroeder, and long time employee, Dan Bolling, near Brunswick in northeastern Nebraska. They no-till 2,200 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and dryland cereal rye.
They started their precision journey about 5 years ago with a Case IH FM750 Advanced Farming System guidance and steering monitor that they moved between their tractor and combine.
Today, all of their fields are grid soil sampled and have established fertility goals.
“We established four or five zones to better match fertilizer rates to the yield potential of the field and to comply with the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP),” Hoffman says.
In the spring, a custom applicator applies phosphorous and potassium to match the zones’ requirements and agrichemicals are also custom applied as needed.
Hoffman switched planters in 2013 to a Case IH 1250 16 row, 30 inch planter with a Case IH Pro 700 monitor.
“The planter has air clutches on each row, so we can do variable-rate seeding,” he says. “It saved us about 24 bags of seed corn this year, or about $6,500 to $7,000.”
The planter applies a standard rate of starter fertilizer across all corn acres, but this year they moved to variable-rate fertilizer application with a Thurston Mfg./Blu-Jet applicator. They use the FM750 display and a Trimble Field IQ system that controls the flow of the sidedressed nitrogen based on the field zone.
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.
“Overall, our nitrogen use didn’t go down, it’s just that we applied more to where it had potential to produce higher yields,” Hoffman says. “We are just getting into corn harvest, so we haven’t had time to analyze yield data vs. zone inputs.”
They also upgraded their GPS signal from OmniSTAR XP to OmniSTAR RTX. The upgrade improved accuracy to within 1.5 inches and improved signal strength, Hoffman says.
Points of Pain: Local Dealer Assistance
In a short period of time, Hoffman has incorporated a significant amount of technology on the farm, which has required a substantial amount of research and training.
Although they’ve typically worked with their local Case IH dealer for installation and technical support of precision products, Hoffman says support was less than stellar at the start.
“Our equipment salesperson wasn’t totally up to speed on the equipment, so a salesperson from another branch helped us get started,” he says. “Reading the manuals helped us have better success at getting this equipment to work right for us.”
Although they are largely self-taught on their precision systems, Hoffman says they still have a lot to learn and want to be able to rely on their local dealer for support.
“We do take advantage of classes through our dealership when they are offered,” he says. “It’s also good to have someone at the dealership that really knows this equipment.”