On Steve Duwe’s 1,120 acre farm near Johnson Creek, Wis., making the most of his strip-till corn and no-till soybeans operation on moderately sloping ground, requires more than a steady hand.
“When we make the strip-till pass in the fall, we are more likely to see erosion on our hilly ground. That really negates the benefits of strip-till,” he says. “We’ve had much better success reducing erosion and preserving soil structure with a spring pass using an RTK signal.”
Duwe runs a homemade 12 row strip-till unit with Dawn Pluribus row units and a Montag fertilizer tank with pneumatic delivery system mounted on a Moore-Built bar with an Elk Creek caddy. He uses a Raven control unit to manually switch between two fertilizer rates on the go.
“We’ve used this strip-till unit for 5 years and it works well. We pull it with a Case IH 274 Magnum with an Ag Leader Integra monitor for auto-steer,” Duwe says. “The unit follows the tractor well.”
At planting, he uses a 12-row Kinze 3200 with an EdgeVac vacuum seed meter system, but doesn’t follow the strip-till passes with auto-steer. Instead, he follows the strips by manually steering a Case IH 225 CVT that doesn’t have auto-steer capability.
“Our strip-till zone is 7 or 8 inches wide, and it’s generally easy to follow manually,” he says.
In soybeans, however, he uses auto-steer with the tractor to pull the Case IH Soybean Special planter with 15 inch row spacing.
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.
“It’s really a drill with corn planter row units,” he says. “Using auto-steer to plant soybeans really helps me extend my planting days and I can no-till the soybeans in the dark. I planted 250 acres of soybeans in 2 days.”
Point of Pain: By the Book Isn’t Enough
As a farmer in his 60s, Duwe sometimes thinks the electronic age has passed him by, although he has been involved with various types of precision equipment for more than a decade.
Keeping up on the latest and greatest technology isn’t his forte and Duwe wants his dealer to help decipher the ins and outs of next generation precision products.
“We started with an Outback lightbar for guidance. It was relatively easy and straightforward to use, but very low in capability compared to today's monitors and controllers,” he says. “With the Integra controller, it seemed like the big, thick manual was written for someone who knows more about this equipment than I actually did.
“It was helpful, but I needed more explanation.”
When upgrading to the Integra monitor in his older combine, Duwe turned to his dealer for help and for the cost of the equipment, he expected more than a by-the-book explanation. He now receives the help he needs by attending semi-annual classes the dealer sponsors and also through phone support from his dealer.
“He installed all the components in the combine to make it work,” he says. “It cost us about $3,000 to adapt it, but we thought it was worth it because he explained that we can now use those components on another combine when we decide to trade it.”