Why Monitor What You Can’t Fix?

I am getting my shoulder fixed today. By the time this article is published in the Prairie Tracks I’ll be two weeks into my recovery and physical therapy, and on my way to a pain free and useful rotator cuff.  (I am really hoping that my time in the combine this fall will be with two useful shoulders).  Of course, it has taken a while to get to this point.  I moved from ibuprofen, to Aleve, to cortisone shots, to, “Well, we have monitored this downward progress long enough.  It’s time to fix it.”  I can’t say I am looking forward to going “under the knife,” but I am pretty thankful my shoulder can be fixed.

A tv ad I’ve seen recently poses the question, “Why monitor what you can’t fix?”   Isn’t that the truth?   Discovering there are problems when it is too late to fix them is the ultimate frustration.  In my line of work, while walking my fields, or those of my Bauman Agency growers, seeing planter/planting errors that could have been prevented or corrected immediately — during the planting process — is painful.

12310790726_877644e3a3_oDropping the planter in the ground, not looking back, and expecting positive results is reckless.  (Although I am always amazed at how Mother Nature rescues my/our screw ups.)   Gone are the days when crop producers could depend only on standard planter monitors, found commonly in a typical farmer’s tractor cab, which tells that the planter is working and that seed is dropping from the planting meter.  Yes, traditional planter monitors alert the grower if the planter is planting but many planting issues may be occurring that the grower won’t discover until it’s too late to correct them.

A one day delay in emergence of a corn plant translates to a 7-10 day delay in tasseling. These delayed plants will be “bullied” by the healthy ones by taking nutrients away from those slow growers, resulting in lower yields.

We have moved beyond basic monitoring of getting the seed into the ground with our planter.  Now we have the ability to know that each seed is at an optimal spacing and that each seed is placed at the desired depth.

When I began farming in the late 60’s I planted in multiple-pass, tilled, soil. As we have moved to minimum till/no-till practices we are demanding more from our planters than we even imagined 25 years ago. As planters have become larger it has become critical to have each row planting accurately, not just the average of all the rows that a standard monitor would show. Just buying a new planter, without incorporating the latest technology, is a rash move. New does not automatically mean more accuracy.

The demands on the 21st century farmer require optimum yields in all and variable planting conditions. Choosing to ignore planting errors is just too costly. The technology is here, and being used, to control and repair planting variables, on the go.   Now, how cool is that?

This month, at the Bauman Agency, we are focused on a couple of Precision Planting programs that we are excited about. This program features 20/20 Seed Sense monitors, vDrive, and Delta Force.   The combination of all three allows for precise control of down force and seeding on each individual row of your planter. Isn’t it time to take the first step? I encourage you to check out these affordable opportunities. Choose to monitor and fix.

Image Credit: Don O’Brien

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