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Crop Tech Tour: High-tech harvest tools
Rolling along quickly
Farmers are finding robust corn and soybean yields as harvest rolls along full-speed in eastern Nebraska. Thus far, warm & dry conditions have helped farmers make quick work of harvest so far, and a few new tech tools are helping make it a smoother ride this fall.
From the tractor to the combine
Mike Brandert is a Deere AMS consultant at Platte Valley Equipment Co. in Fremont, Nebraska. A lot more farmers are taking their AMS tools -- like GS2 displays and ITC receivers -- and taking them from their tractors to their combines to help glean accurate yield data at harvest. Today's latest Deere combines, he adds, roll off the dealership "AutoTrack ready" with autosteer components already installed.
Less harvest stress
Autosteer can help save costs during the growing season by eliminating seed and chemical overlap, but at harvest, can also help farmers stay in the field longer each day by eliminating fatigue. "It takes one stress away -- they know the machine will be where it nees to be, and all they have to worry about is the grain cart operator lining up," Brandert says. "Overall, AutoTrack and RowSense on teh corn head is a good product to have."
Big tech help
Technology has a deeper meaning on the Beckman farm in Cuming County, Nebraska. After a pickup rollover accident 3 years ago, Eric, at left, was left a quadriplegic. Now, thanks to the help of a few mechanical and technological additions to his pickup, tractors and combine, he's still able to help his father, Bob, get this year's crop out of the field.
Running it all
Eric unloads soybeans late last week. With the combine's hydrostatic transmission (Deere's "IVT") and a few modifications to the unloading auger controls, Eric can drive the combine just like any other farmer. "With the hydrostat and GPS, I'm pretty much able to do it all," Eric says.
Scott Krusemark was "right in the middle of harvest" late last week on his farm in Wayne County, Nebraska. He says his corn acres that were in soybeans last year have yielded 195 to 205 bushels/acre, but his corn-on-corn acres have been 20 to 30 bushels/acre lower. "The weather's been very cooperative. Yields aren't too bad."
Tech & Mother Nature
Krusemark says his technology's performed well this year, from triple-stack hybrids to GPS. But, he's learned a big lesson this year: Mother Nature's in charge. "With all the rain that we had, we actually thought the crops would be as good or better than last year, but on our corn-on-corn ground, we probably had too much rain in some areas."
Mapping & management
Yield mapping has performed best among all the technology on Krusemark, he says, and it's not just for maximizing yields. "It's been a tremendous help in our manure management," he says. "It's a tool I definitely will continue to use and never do without it." He also uses satellite guidance for planting and tillage. "I know people think it costs a lot of money, and it does. But, it's well worth it," he adds.
Good beans, too
Soybean yields are coming in "extremely good" for Krusemark as well, he says. "We haven't had any disasters this year," he says of the crop year from planting to harvest. "We're moving right along."
Deere's Mike Brandert says many farmers in his area have been quick to adopt new technologies, especially newer precision tools. "A lot of that has to do with us knowing what to sell to our customers versus what works better in other areas," Brandert says. "More customers are wanting to buy more products like yield mapping, RTK and guidance.
See how some of the latest technology's performing this fall (Photos by Doug Hetherington).