By Thom Weir, Senior Precision Agronomist
As the snow melts and the sloughs gradually dry up, it is time to hit you with a couple of important messages. Firstly, take extra time to ensure that whatever job you are working on is done safely! I know, you have heard this repeatedly but it cannot be said often enough. Taking that extra moment to make sure an auger is lowered to a safe height or that your field workers are properly briefed about field hazards, such as power lines, is well worth it. Getting the crop into the ground is a priority among farmers – but getting it done SAFELY is what’s most important.
Spring time is the time of new life. It is also the time for planting that new crop, with renewed enthusiasm about this year’s growing season and optimism about a bumper harvest and larger than expected income. After all, this is why most of you farm! Now is the time to ensure that everything is ready to go – your fertilizer is in the bin, your seed is cleaned and treated, and your bags of canola are stored high and dry in your shed.
In today’s world, there are a couple of new tasks that many farmers are preparing to do. Tractors and air drills should be checked to make sure they are “talking to each other again,” or if you have a new tractor or drill, do all the connections match? You should ensure that field boundaries are in the equipment, and changes such as field consolidations made or new land acquisitions are added into your borders. Have all the prescriptions for #plant17 been uploaded?
The biggest turn off for many of the new technologies used today by growers is the complexity that they bring with them. I learned early in my work with these technologies that “if you can’t get it working for me in 20 minutes when I am parked in the field, ready to roll, I will switch to over-ride and do it the old way.” Often, the problem is a simple fix but operators just don’t know where to start. It’s important to have the right technical team to support you.
When the tech stuff works, things go smoothly. Your equipment moves down the field, sending a steady stream of data to the cloud. All this information will be there to help you make better informed decisions later. If they don’t, you must put up with down time, frustration and knowing that the money you have invested into the technology is being wasted. That is why Farmers Edge has always worked to ensure equipment is FieldReady™. Farmers Edge techs visit their customers’ farms to ensure equipment is “talking to each other,” that prescriptions have been properly uploaded, and that CanPlugs™ are transmitting data correctly. They will also ensure that you have the latest version of FarmCommand™ – an integrated farm management platform – installed and that weather stations are maintained throughout the season.
If you don’t have a service provider to check your technology, here are a few tips:
- Get your tractor hooked up to your drill/planter soon and recheck to make sure connections are working.
- Make sure you are using the most up to date software. You may have to check with your dealer and technology provider to ensure that new downloads are compatible.
- Keep your tech’s phone number handy – perhaps in your favorites list if not stuck to your tractor’s window.
- Take a long, deep breath each morning before you fire up your tractor and drill/planter and hope that satellites are all where they are supposed to be and are all working properly. This won’t help the process but it might make you feel better.
Have a GREAT #Plant17 and keep it safe out there as we start the greatest annual mega-project on earth!