Families Growing Our Food: High Tech Makes Ag Tick

Husker Home Place

Plainview farmers are utilizing technology in every way possible to improve efficiency, conserve resources.

Published on: June 28, 2013

Curt’s Comments: Some urban folks seem to think that farmers are still living and working as they are portrayed on old TV shows like “Green Acres.” Well, we don’t have to climb a telephone pole to answer the phone and our tractors have changed just a tiny bit since the 1960s. And, it is important to communicate with consumers how technology has changed agriculture and food production, and how it has made us more efficient, so we can produce more food and use less natural resources. That is a message consumers need to understand.

When I visited the Christiansen farm near Plainview, I recognized immediately how important technology is on their farm. Brandon and his father, Rick, work hard to install and utilize all kinds of technology, from GPS, to remote cameras, to data collection and employment systems, to do a better job of efficiently using their inputs, improving their production and conserve resources. Their farm is not that unusual. This is just a small taste of what the Christiansens are doing.

TECH TEAM: Brandon (right) and Rick Christiansen have employed technology to improve their production and conserve resources.
TECH TEAM: Brandon (right) and Rick Christiansen have employed technology to improve their production and conserve resources.

Here is their story…

Brandon Christiansen of Plainview loves the technology side of farming. It is the driving force behind his family’s row crop operation. Christiansen admittedly digests technology equipment manuals cover to cover while his tractor operates on AutoTrac mode through the fields.

Thanks to the John Deere Apex data management system and Real Time Kinematic or RTK GPS signal, Christiansen and his father, Rick, have incorporated precision, communication and data collection technology into every conceivable operation across their 4000 acres of corn and soybeans. 

Working with John Deere technicians at Green Line Equipment in Neligh, Christiansen adds any new advances as quickly as possible, testing new equipment and helping service technicians and neighboring farmers work through the kinks that always come along.

Adam Veik, precision farming manager for Green Line Equipment, says that Christiansen is part of the “next generation of farmers who want to get the most bang for their buck.” He says that Christiansen knows the system inside and out. “He studies the maps closely and knows what works and what doesn’t,” says Veik.

“Apex anchors your field data,” Veik says. “You can take the maps and make a prescription for seeding and spraying in the spring and at the end of the year, you can see production.”

“I’ve used Apex since I was a junior in high school,” Christiansen says. “I know it and know every detail of it, and I get along with it great.” He particularly appreciates the yield mapping and seeding fertilizer prescription capabilities of the program. Christiansen says that once a producer understands the program and what it can do, they are sold on it. Now, he is excited about the new John Deere Mobile Farm Manager application that will allow him to add an iPad to his stable of technology tools, bringing true in-the-field mobility to his information system.

The new system from John Deere will connect seamlessly with Apex software, giving Christiansen remote access to data. “I could pull up data from all of my farms and fields, look at acres and everything I have on Apex, such as past yield, planting and application maps,” Christiansen says.

If you like this story or learned something you didn’t know by reading it, please pass it on to your urban friends who are interested in farmers and food production. Be sure to watch the last Friday of every month at Husker Home Place for more stories about the real families growing our food. Next time, we’ll focus grazing management and how one farmer is using all of his resources to manage his cow herd and the land in the best way possible.