Glenn Dye has an interesting perspective on precision farming equipment. Before he began farming full-time two years ago, he sold and serviced precision farming equipment for Greenline Service Corp., a John Deere dealership in Fredericksburg, Va.
Today, he farms 450 acres of no-till corn, soybeans and wheat as well as various cover crops in the Fredericksburg area. He’s a sole proprietor, but exchanges equipment and labor with his father, Paul.
Dye continues to update his equipment line for even greater precision in his no-till operation. He started with a John Deere 6700 sprayer that he equipped with an AutoTrac Universal (ATU) 200 steering kit and controlled by a Starfire 3000 receiver and GreenStar (GS) 2 1800 display. The sprayer also has a Raven SmartBoom control that manager his boom in three sections.
“The unit can control up to 10 sections, but even with three sections, I think the unit has paid for itself in reducing over-application of fertilizer and pesticides,” Dye says. “With the auto-steer and SmartBoom control, I can even spray at night and don’t need to worry about marking foam or other methods to stay on track.”
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.
Dye saves his A/B lines used by his initial pass through a field to control traffic on subsequent passes.
“When we make as many as three passes with the sprayer to apply fertilizer and pesticides, the A/B lines are very helpful, especially in wheat,” he says.
For planting, Dye works with his dad, using his Deere 4455 to pull his 2009 Kinze 3500 8-row planter with splitter boxes.
“Until this year, we didn’t use the ATU for planting, but we did use the GS 2600 display that I bought from Greenline when another farmer upgraded his system,” Dye says. “I like its touch screen and its ability to control planter clutches, which we plan to set up for section control in 2013.”
Dye recently traded in his GS2 2600 for a GS3 2630 that he’ll use to variable-rate lime and chicken litter to his fields in 2013.
“I also use the GS3 2630 in my 2002 John Deere 9550 combine. This year, I set it up to map yields,” he says. “I set the 2600 up while I was still working at the dealership, so I knew what wiring harnesses I needed so it would work with the GS2 2630. I had to reprogram the moisture sensor with the correct software version so it could communicate with the display.”
Point of Pain: ‘Taking the Plunge’
Dye’s past experience with Deere’s Ag Management Solutions gave him a head start on adopting precision farming equipment in his operation.
“I’ve worked with many farmers on this, and the biggest hurdle is just taking the plunge,” he says. “We had demo kits that farmers could use to get familiar with the systems before they made the decision.
‘Today’s newer systems are much more plug-and-play and are easier to install. The older system that I put on my sprayer can be more difficult to install, diagnose and use, but the newer generations address many of those problems.”
Dye also counsels farmers to be wary of used equipment.
“Know what you’re getting and understand your upgrade options. If you have a Deere system, you can’t skip generations without starting over,” he says.
“This technology is particularly challenging for older farmers, and I still get calls from old customers for suggestions and support.
“Providing ongoing support is an issue for dealers and equipment manufacturers. No one likes it, but I can see the point of getting one year of support free and then subscribing for continued online support. It’s very challenging for a dealer to provide the support that some of these customers need.”