Simplify Complex Agriculture Until It Works

Hoosier Perspectives

Invest the time it takes to know if you're getting the right information.

Published on: February 25, 2013

Life is more complex today than when your father farmed. Heck, it's more complex than when you farmed five years ago. Truth is it's more complex right now than when you parked your combine last fall. Technology is added every day, and nothing stays as it is very long.

However, this doesn't mean you need a PhD to continue farming. Past education isn't important. It's what you're willing to learn now as new technology comes along that matters. The biggest mistake you can make, and I can speak from experience, is walking away and not trying to figure it out.

I got my first smartphone last summer when my antique flip-phone flipped its last and broke into two parts. I held on as long as I could, like maybe granddad held onto horses a couple years longer than he should have. I've learned how to text and use certain apps. But I still don't know how to use the Internet on it. Why? Because I just am too stubborn to listen to my kids. They have showed me how to do it. It's just a few simple steps. But it all runs together, and I won't take time to figure it out. As a result, I can't get email on the road, which will become more important all the time. Sooner or later I'll force myself to do it, and then I'll be behind the curve.

Here's a case-in-point that could affect you directly. Sprayer technology has involved to the point where you can get automatic boom and section shut-off. The more you're willing to pay, the more sections you can control. Earlier this winter we carried an article showing the payoff could be astronomical.

But not everyone sees it. One person told us that because their field is rectangular – all their fields – without point rows- it won't pay for them.

That brought comments from other farmers saying that wasn't so – that there was still overlap, and that someone applying chemicals without RTK guidance is getting more overlaps and skips than they think, no matter how careful they think they are, even in straight fields.

The best way to find the answer is to talk to someone who knows. If you're on the fence, have a good discussion with a trusted dealer who handles sprayers. Today, most aren't out for the quick buck, and most will lay it out, explain how it works and let you decide if it's worth the investment.

The industry person I talked to recently at the Louisville farm show says yes, there is overlap or the potential for overlap because of the way most sprayers are set up to get coverage on the end of the boom. If you don't drive precisely, there will be overlap, he adds, even in rectangular fields.

But auto-section control powered by GPS and a computer in the cab does is kick in if this overlap gets too wide and shuts off nozzles. On top of all that, there's the issue of end rows where there is overlap, and sometimes, you will get drip instead of a quick shutoff because of air in the system.

Nothing is as simple as it seems. Our job today is to pull the cover off and see what's underneath. Keep asking questions until we understand it. Keep asking questions until we know if a theory makes sense or not. Then we'll know if a technology could pay for us. Or you can just say no – like I do to internet on my cell phone – and miss out on using tools that make life more efficient. I've learned you can simplify the complex and use it, or ignore it and leave it in a black box and live like you always did. Just don't fool yourself into thinking that if you choose the latter option, you'll always be running at the front of the pack!