Jerome Tschetter farms west of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. He's happy with precision farming and thinks it makes his crop operation more efficient. But that doesn't mean he likes everything about the precision farming system.
"I guess my biggest things are the little things … the annoyances," he noted at a recent conference sponsored by Raven Industries.
"It's having to push a lot of buttons to get where you want to be or the buzzers that go off when you already know what they're trying to tell you," he says. "Overall, it's not a big deal, but there are annoyances that come with the technology."
Manufacturers are addressing some of those issues. Raven just introduced the Viper 4 field computer. It features fewer steps needed to set it up or make changes once you're in the field.
"We listened to farmers, and that's one of the things they wanted – more simplicity," says Matt Burkhart, vice-president of Raven Industries. "We incorporated those kinds of things into Viper 4."
Riding in the cab planting a plot recently it was easy to see what Tschetter was talking about. Some 100 yards from the end of the 'field', which comes up quickly in a plot, a warning bar would flash on the computer display screen. The operator could push a button and shut it off. But it came up every time. That was annoying.
The warning bar is there to warn you that you're about to approach the end and will need to take control of the tractor back from auto-guidance. I guess someone has fallen asleep and not taken back the control. Hence the system is on the computer.
The problem is that if you're running the radio, you might not hear the signal that goes with it. It's still not foolproof.