Everybody likes a precision farming equipment story that ends happily ever after. For Jeff Toussaint, a fourth generation no-till farmer at Toussaint Farms near Medina, N.Y., his first foray into precision farming was more of a nightmare, and he attributes poor dealer support as the main reason for it.
“We tried our first RTK steering system about 6 years ago. I was hoping to get A-B lines set up in each of our fields, then no-till in between the previous year’s rows,” he says. The Toussaint family currently farms 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and also operates commercial apple and peach orchards.
In the beginning, Toussaint was only looking for steering accuracy and the Trimble EZ-Steer unit he purchased received good reports from neighbors and acquaintances. But Toussaint didn’t have the same experience.
After 2 years of dropped signals and poor dealer support, he temporarily shelved his RTK ambitions. “We’ve only been able to use the system for Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) guidance for soybean harvest,” Toussaint says.
Despite the early frustrations, Toussaint still saw promise in precision technology and in 2013 he purchased a John Deere planter and outfitted it with Precision Planting eSet vacuum meters. The planter came with air bags for down pressure, but Toussaint plans to replace them with Ag Leader hydraulic down pressure units.
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.
“The hydraulic units respond more quickly and can be controlled by my new Integra monitor,” he says. “I want to keep it simple in the cab. I am not a fan of cabs that look like something out of NASA.”
Point of Pain: Dealer Support from the Start
Although his first foray into precision farming left much to be desired, Toussaint says increased adoption of technology in his area has generally improved the availability of dealers.
However, Toussaint admits that he could be further along with his adoption of precision tools if his initial dealer was able to provide support after the sale.
“Here in western New York, precision equipment has really taken off in the last 5 years and it seems everyone is selling some type of system or component,” he says. “If we hook up with a dealer that doesn’t have a good support team in place, we’ll be frustrated. If my first dealer was able to get me working correctly and in a timely manner, I would have looked to buy new equipment from him. But the lack of support really drove my decision to switch dealers.”
With one season under his belt with his new planter and precision system, Toussaint is a much happier camper.
“The dealer’s service has been excellent. They’ll be here when we install the down pressure system,” he says. “It’s good to work with a dealer who has support people who can stay in one place long enough to help you solve your problems. A response to a text just isn’t enough.
“They were also helpful in getting me to see the big picture and realize how all this equipment is going to fit into my system and provide the best return on investment.”