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5 ways digital agriculture tools helped farmers in 2020

Digital agricultural tools aren’t all razzle-dazzle. They gleaned dirt-under-the-fingernails agronomic and farm management information in 2020, according to Joe Haas, Holdrege, Nebraska; Nathan Reed, Sedalia, Kentucky; and Seth Lawrence, Brook, Indiana. 

1. Digital ag tools enabled farmers to better manage COVID-19 hazards.

“For us, 2020 may have been a little bit of a blessing in disguise,” says Haas. “We have three 24-row planters and three tenders, and during planting, I deliver seed and keep our planter guys going.

“This year threw an extra wrinkle into all this in that we have a couple of older gentlemen working with us,” says Haas. “With all the [COVID-19] health concerns coming out in March, it was just really, really uncertain what was going to happen. We all needed to distance ourselves to stay safe. My wife works in health care, so I had to be especially careful.”

To communicate and keep tabs on everything, Haas relied on FieldView’s RemoteView function. This feature
establishes a wireless connection between a remote iPad and the in-cab iPad that is
connected to either a 20/20 display or FieldView Drive. It allows the viewer to see
live planting and harvest information in the
FieldView App as if it were cab connected.

“I also talked on the cell phone and used FaceTime,” Haas adds. “It worked out well, based on all the digital tools we have and making sure they [operators] were planting the right hybrid or variety. I think we’re probably going to do the same thing [in 2021] because it allowed me to be two places at once. I could be working on one planter and FaceTiming with the other operator.” 

2. Digital tools helped farmers decipher on-farm trials and better secure products.

“We have a lot of different trials going on the farm, trying to be more efficient, trying to increase yields,” says Reed. “Many are large experiments on several acres. When harvest-
time rolls around, we’re in the combine, collecting the data. We can verify that everything is set properly, quickly see the results of these trials right in the field, and begin making decisions for the following year.”

3. Data tools increasingly integrated with each other.

Lawrence says he teams FieldView data with a farm management software product called Harvest Profit. 

“When we record the data, whether it be a planting application or harvest, the data will stream into the Harvest Profit platform,” he says. “We can utilize that to just be that much more accurate on our financial numbers and analytics.”

4. Digital tools helped farmers document specific practices that may help them access new markets.

“There are some programs out there that will benefit [such as paying] growers doing certain practices that are very precision-ag oriented,” says Lawrence. Examples include capturing data showing pesticides are not being overapplied due to sprayer shut-off section control, he adds. 

5. Digital tools helped strengthen relationships with landlords.

FieldView lets landlords view agronomic information pertaining to their land, says Lawrence. 

“It provides a level of transparency, too, knowing their land is being taken care of in a proper manner,” he says. 

Strong Broadband Service Needed

The biggest challenge to using digital agricultural tools, though, is spotty broadband service. It’s virtually nonexistent on southern areas of Lawrence’s farm.

“It’s even hard to do a video call in such areas,” says Lawrence.

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