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Spring is right around the corner

It seems with every passing snowflake it is hard not to glance at the calendar and count how many days until spring.

After a quick daydream of sunshine and 70-degree weather, then it’s back to work preparing for Plant 2014. Along with spending time with family and taking a much needed breather, most farmers in the area have gotten their seed purchased; they are firming up on orders and making necessary adjustments.

Part of my job is to take this time to visit with my growers to assist in this process and to hear their thoughts on the season ahead. The topic that comes up more often than not is the markets. The general concern in the countryside is the market prices for corn have continued to remain low. Therefore, we as an agricultural community might have to make changes in our way of approaching the financial side of farming. The thought of “more bushels with more ground” has changed to “more bushels with the same amount of ground we already have.” One way I would suggest approaching this dilemma is using available technology.

Most farmers have monitors in their planter tractors, as well as in the combine. These monitors assist the operators during both spring and harvest duties. Along with displaying feedback on what the machine is currently doing, it also displays planting population in the spring or average yield in the fall. The great thing about most of the monitors is that all of the information can be recorded for future use. With this information, farmers are able to download as-planted maps and harvest data into an analyzing program similar to Pioneer Field360 from DuPont Pioneer. The technology of having the data automatically download to an analyzing program already exists as well.

What I enjoy the most about this latest technology is it assists in making the decision process easier for next year. This is because all of the information for the entire operation is at the farmer’s fingertips to look at and evaluate.

For example, the program allows the farmer to make hybrid comparisons and evaluate different management decisions. The farmer is able to see how soil types, fungicide and fertilizer applications affected the outcome of the crop at the field level. Then we together have a better grasp of knowing the field’s ideal combination for 2014.

When conclusions have been made and an ideal plan is set, take the time to discuss them with your seed dealer. We, the seed dealers, might suggest modifying part of the order to better fit your operation. This is exactly why, as a seed dealer, I am OK with adjusting an order to better fit the fields’ needs.

During these conversations, I might make suggestions on how to get the most out of the products the farmer purchased. By using years of information, I might work with a farmer to create a Variable Rate Seeding prescription. This allows the planter to adjust seed populations automatically when traveling across a field. I want farmers to be successful too, and together using the farmer’s information to make discussions is key!

Just remember the snowflakes will not be falling forever, and spring is right around the corner. Please be safe and have a prosperous 2014!

Matthew Denton resides in Princeton and is an associate representative with White Oak Ag Inc.

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