Tools of the Future Tour

  • Tools of the Future Tour

    Last year, we took the latest ag technology on the road with Successful Farming’s Tools of the Future tour. At stops in Clive, Iowa; Bloomington, Illinois; and West Lafayette, Indiana, farmers and crop consultants gleaned what’s new in drones, data integration, planters, and other new technologies.

  • Precision Data

    Daily rainfall reports that tally 1.9 billion. Soil data points numbering 8 billion that calculate runoff every 10 square meters. And on-demand field status for 30 million U.S. fields. Those are some of the metrics that The Climate Corporation brings to farmers, says Jeff Hamlin, the firm’s director of company success.

  • New Products

    For this growing season, The Climate Corporation has launched two new products: Climate Basic and Climate Pro. Climate Basic gives lots of information for free, such as pinpointing the amount of precipitation your field has received and in surrounding areas (this map shows severe weather in Iowa) earlier that week. Climate Pro, a paid service, gives specific recommendations on optimum times to conduct field operations. To sign up, go to

  • Speedy Planting With Accuracy

    Ever wish you could plant corn at high speeds with accuracy? These days, maybe you can, says Jason Webster from Beck’s Hybrids. After all, John Deere has turned lots of heads in the industry with its Exact Emerge planter that company officials say can accurately plant at 10 mph.
    Doing so, though, requires a laser focus on perfect planting. “If we screw up planting, what do we really have?” asks Webster.

  • Hydraulic Downforce

    Hydraulic downforce units are especially key to ensuring optimum seed placement at high speeds. That’s especially true in tough conditions like planting corn into hard and dry soils, he says.

  • Drones, Drones, and More Drones!

    During the tour, we affectionately referred to the drone presentations as “farmer crack”. Farmers flocked to these demonstrations. They’re fun to fly! And, they can help tip you off to maladies you can’t see from the road, such as in-season nitrogen (N) deficiencies.

  • N Management

    Aaron Sheller, a Noblesville, Indiana, farmer and a founder of Precision Drone, notes drone technology is a way to more precisely pinpoint N needs. On-board cameras can be used to form N management and other agronomic strategies.

  • Service is Key

    So how do you navigate through all the drone companies out there? Many use similar technologies. However, make sure you buy one where service is readily available. “Eventually, a drone will crash,” Sheller says. “So you want to buy a drone with good service.”

  • Toolbox Tool

    Matt Barnard, who owns Crop Copter and is based in Foosland, Illinois, also farms. “UAVs are not a silver bullet,” he says. “They are a tool in your toolbox.” They may pinpoint needs for drainage, be an indicator of plant health, or used to compare hybrids, he says.

  • Liability Coverage

    here’s a parent saying that goes, “It’s all fun until someone gets hurt.” That saying applies to the liability issue for drones, There are standalone insurance policies that can cover liability for any property damage off-target drones may cause, says Dayton Kilgus with MetzStoller. Kilgus works with Crop Copter on insurance issues.

  • Fly Alone

    A thornier issue is an “invasion of privacy” claim that could potentially occur if a neighbor thinks you are playing Peeping Tom with them. As of now, no policies cover this, says Kilgus. Your best bet is to fly them in remote areas and be on good terms with your neighbors.

drones, Big Data, planter of the future

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