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Contributor

Technology Questions from a College Student

Hey everyone, I'm new to this forum and hoping I can get some help. I'm a sophomore in college, studying Crop Sciences. I'm currently taking a class in AgriBusiness. We've been asked to learn about various farming techniques and topics and then report on our findings. I don't have many farming contacts, so I thought I'd ask my questions online. I’ll break my questions up into a few different posts. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

 

PLANTING

  1. Does anyone use any technology (programs or software) for any part of preparing your machines for planting season? Are you sending data to and from your machines? If so, what do you send? How? When?
  2. I’ve done some research and learned about something called Configuration Files for machines. Is anyone using these? What do these files include? How do they get created and when does that usually happen? Do they usually change from year to year?
  3. Lastly, how many fields do you have? How many of those fields typically have more than one hybrid?

 

PRESCRIPTIONS

  1. I’ve also done some research on prescriptions, but am still learning. Is anyone currently using prescriptions? If so, what kind? Does this ever change?
  2. Are you creating your prescriptions or is someone else? What is this process like? When do they write a prescription for the next season? What happens once they are created? How long does that process take for each prescription? 
  3. Do you only use a prescription in one field or do you use the same prescription for multiple fields? How do you know which fields to put the prescription in? Who decides this?
  4. Once a prescription is done, how often does it change? How do you make changes? What happens when changes are made?
  5. Do your prescriptions change from year to year, or do they stay the same?
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Senior Advisor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

I don't know what you mean about software for planters.  If you mean variable rate planting, I don't know of many who do it yet.  I dont' know about configuration files.  I farily often plut more than one hybrid in a field.

I don't use planting prescriptions.

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Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

Thanks for your reply, Jim!

 

I've learned that some growers use displays in their machines, as well as some sort of computer program that sets them up for each operation (planting, spraying, harvest). Are you doing anything like this?

 

What percentage of your fields usually have more than one hybrid? Why do you do this?

 

Are you using prescriptions for any operation?

 

Thanks again. I really appreciate it.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

I have a display that I use.  A few of my fields have more than one hybrid and I usually do this either to match a hybrid with growing conditions or to get diversity.

I don't use prescriptions for anything, although I have used it once on fertilizer.

I dont' use a software program to set up the equipoment for operation.  My software is for guidance and to record what happened.

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Veteran Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

Yes we use a technology program for planting corn and soybeans.  A rep from the equipment dealership comes out to make sure all equipment is set up correctly in the tractor/planter unit with proper updates, etc. The actual prescriptions are done annually, a week or so before planting on the in-office computer.  But before that process, one of us develops a spreadsheet that lists each field and the intended variety, populations, etc.  It takes a few minutes per field to input the information in the computer.  The prescrips are generally pretty simple.  We draw in the irrigated area and input a seed/acre rate for irrigated areas, another for dryland corners.  Also out of boundary rate.  Also input the variety we intend to use. We occasionally have different rates for different soil  and variety needs.   Once the prescrips are ready we then use a flash drive to import that info to the unit in the planter.   

 

Having the prescriptions makes the planter operators job much easier.   Variety is always subject to change so they can change the varieties and populations in the tractor unit in the field if needed.  If they input an incorrect hybrid it can be changed later on the in-office computer, but it's better to do it in the field so the info is recorded correctly from the get go.  But sometimes the guys don't want to take the time.  

 

Technology is wonderful, but costly.  We also have a notebook with maps/names of each field in the planter tractor to record info in since sometimes they forget to change it in the tractor when they change varieties.  Pen/paper is much cheaper.  

 

We don't do it via cloud computing.  We used the cloud during fall harvest one time and partway  into the season realized a cable wasn't connected correctly so data was missing.

Not sure what you mean by configuration files.  

We typically only have 1, sometimes 2 and very seldom 3 hybrids in a field.  

Once planting is done, the data is exported back to the flash drive and unloaded onto the computer in the Apex program.  

We always cross our fingers the data is there.

 

The reports can provide planting date, variety/varieties, seed population, operator, acres/hour, etc. 

The prescrips are similar from year to year but when we do crop rotation everything needs to be changed anyway.  

The map reports are nice for info for FSA and also as documentation for any landlords or customers for whom we have done custom planting.

But the info we get out is only as good as the preparation we put forth......and the money we pay for the service. 

 

 

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Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

Thanks so much for the reply! It was exactly what I was looking for.

 

I think I'm following how you create prescriptions. Just to clarify, do you only use a prescription in one field or do you use the same prescription for multiple fields?

 

You mentioned you use Apex, which is a program I've actually heard about. Do you create files in that program that contains all of the information your operator needs for planting? I think that's what I meant about Configuration Files. I'm also trying to understand what is usually included in those types of files. And how often they change.

 

When you plant more than one hybrid in a field, what is usally the reason?

 

During harvest season, how do you know what variety has been planted in each field? How does your operator know? Are those varieties in your combine display(s)? Does that process vary by crop type?

 

Thanks again!

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Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

Thanks again, Jim.

 

Last questions: During harvest season, how do you know what variety has been planted in each field? How does your operator know?

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Veteran Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

We create a prescription for each individual field, since we need to use the field boundary as a starting point; however the prescriptions themselves are typically very similar, i.e. similar seed population in irrigated area and another for dryland, etc. with a any variations for test plots or other field considerations, such as soil type, prior crop, etc. 

 

When using Apex, there's the initial setup where all inputs, i.e. field, operators, equipment, seed varieties, tasks, etc are recorded.

Then when creating the prescription we just pick the field, assign the crop and variety, set up the zones, assign the seed/acre for each zone, etc. We only assign one variety at the time of writing the prescription; however once the guys get to the field if they run out of a variety or decide to change, then they can manually change it on their tractor monitor. 

 

Once planting is done, the data is brought from the field tractor to the office computer on a flash drive and that data is saved.

 

Following harvest, again the data is brought back from the combine to the office computer and merged with the planting data so we know what was planted and the corresponding yields for the area.  I don't run the combine, but I don't think the combine operator can see the varieties during harvest - could be wrong.  

 

Each year we print off books with harvest yield maps of each field so we have a hard copy to view with vendors.  But we also have access to the data on the computer where we can do more detailed comparisons from year to year. 

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Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

I've gotten 2 great responses so far. Does anyone else have time to weigh in? Our professor recommended we get at least 3 different perspectives, but 5 would be even better. Thanks!

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Contributor

Re: Technology Questions from a College Student

Okay, I'm understanding things a lot better now. I have a couple more questions:

 

1. Do your prescriptions change from year to year? And why?

2. When you plant more than one hybrid in a field, what is usally the reason?

 

Thanks again for your help!

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