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Precision ag pointers

Jeff Caldwell 01/07/2011 @ 1:53pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Precision ag technology is far from one-size-fits all. Some farmers are better able to adopt new technology tools on their farms than others, and understanding your comfort level with new technology is key to being able to successfully implement it.

Just getting started? Doug Applegate, who farms in western Iowa, says the first and most important step is determining whether you "want to" do it or not, then have the patience to follow through with tools that can sometimes have a frustratingly steep learning curve.

"You have to have the aptitude and want to do it. If you buy all the equipment and don't use it or don't want to use it, it kind of defeats the purpose," Applegate says.

Bill Darrington, who farms near Applegate near Persia, Iowa, agrees that the desire to learn about and use the new technology is important. But, don't stop there: Learn your personal limitations and work around them, he advises.

"If you're looking to start, find the one point of information you're passionate about finding out more about, then start with that, because you're more inclined to learn that, then adapt," Darrington says. "If you're tired of having overlap, adapt to that. Go for the thing that's of most interest to you first. I wouldn't necessarily recommend everybody plug your nose and jump off the high dive."

But, adopting precision ag is often more about the people than it is the technology, Darrington says. Establishing a good relationship with support people in your area is the most important thing to the continued successful utilization of technology tools.

"Being able to have people I could call and explain to them what my issue was and the support we received was the difference between just turning off the unit and having a solution," Darrington said Friday during a session at the Successful Farming Innovations Theater at AG CONNECT Expo. "The support is huge if you're not on the technical side, or don't want to get on computers. It was the difference between a victory and a failure. You really need to find out what their support system is like. You are going to have to have the teamwork and network with those people."

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