Precision farming powers conservation efforts

By Mary Hookham For Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance

Technology available to farmers evolves every day. New gadgets, software, programs and equipment are constantly being released into the marketplace, which can sometimes be overwhelming for farmers.

Experts at the Lafayette County Ag Stewardship Alliance’s annual meeting on Feb. 25 tried to simplify things for attendees. Precision farming was a focal point, a powerful tool to help farmers meet conservation goals.

“We want farmers to take a look at precision ag to get an idea of what’s out there for them to use,” said Wade Black, precision farming specialist with Ritchie Implement, which has locations in southwestern Wisconsin.

Precision farming uses monitoring, global-positioning-system mapping for yield, spraying and planting, seeding population and fertilizer and manure applications. Control in technology comes from steering, which can be hydraulic or electric, section control and rate control, including seed, fertilizer or anything else being applied.

Black said precision farming is most successful when farmers make sound data management decisions. This is useful when farmers can watch weather reports, do soil sampling and create profit maps.

“Data drives decisions,” Black said. “Make sure you make the right data management decision.”

Joe Brunker, product support specialist with Sloan Implement in Monroe, Wis., assists his customers with sales, installation and support of John Deere GPS equipment. In addition to having the latest technology, he said, several factors must work together to achieve the highest quality of precision farming.

“My equation for success is this: AutoTrac System Accuracy equals GPS receiver plus correct implement setup plus correct vehicle setup plus field conditions,” he said.

(Local equipment dealers are good resources for farmers interested in learning more about agricultural technology.)