No Time Like the Present

Deadlines; meet one and there is another fast on its heels.

One person’s approach to meeting deadlines can be a lot different than another’s.   Some of us work best under pressure; others enjoy the satisfaction of getting done well in advance of the 11th hour.  I guess I am a last-minute kind of guy.  Interestingly, much as I dawdle at getting things done in a timely fashion, I sure am annoyed when I am ready to attack the next project (behind schedule, of course) and the equipment I need to proceed isn’t ready to go, because once again, I waited until the last minute. Ironic isn’t it?

Once planting is done, if you are the really efficient type, the planter is cleaned up, inspected, adjustments and repairs made and then the planter tucked in the shed until next spring.  When that baby is pulled out of the shed in the spring it is ready to roll to the field.

The fairly efficient grower will clean up the planter, perhaps make a few notes about what to work on during the winter months, and then put the planter away until winter or maybe early spring.  When spring rolls around there may still be some work needing to be done.  If notes were made they come in pretty handy.

The last-minute grower gets the planter put away just before the first snow flies, hopefully.   The planter gets pulled out of the shed in the spring, and then the head scratching begins.  What was it that I want to be sure was fixed on this planter from last year?   Meanwhile the planting deadline looms.

No matter which camp you may fit into you may not be as well organized nor as far behind as you think.   If you answer no to any one of the following questions, your planter should not be in the shed!

  1. Have you walked your fields to identify mechanical planting errors? Did your starter work like you intended?  Did your corn come up evenly or is some of it a collar or 2 behind?
  2. Have you written down your plans for improving your planter’s performance in 2019? (And I don’t mean trading it in)
  3. Have planter meters been inspected, cleaned, and calibrated for next season?
  4. Have you analyzed your planting maps and do they show if each row planted as you set it?
  5. Have you gotten quotes for planter upgrades that will address your planter’s issues?

Now is the time to analyze your plant stand, and your planter’s issues.  Meters should be worked on now and put away clean and prepped.  Summertime is the budget friendliest time to purchase upgrades and the best time to make wise logical choices to improve your planter’s efficiency. The best part? There’s no deadline pressure looming! No deadline, that is, other than the Precision Planting Summer Deal Upgrade Package from Bauman Agency, in which we offer a $200 discount per row, ending August 31st.

We are happy to walk fields with you.   Jonathan, Callee and Wade can help you analyze your plant stand with the aid of Precision Planting’s Pogo.  Planter issues can be identified and resolved with summer deals and meters can be checked.  Our service is budget friendly and long on experience.   Give us a call at Bauman Agency, 605-353-1112. After all, there is no time like the present!

Image Credit: Sharib4rd

Just One More Thing

Every year I attend several one or two day conferences to and earn credits and maintain my Certified Crop Advisor accreditation. Subjects each year cover soil health, plant diseases, new pesticides and Insecticide interactions, and the latest in new equipment and technology that ag has to offer. Having been out of college for more than just a few years, my brain starts to fog up and I must take a day or two after the conference to reflect on what was presented. Usually, after mulling over the information that I was exposed to, I come up with an underlying theme. This year, my take away thoughts go to “just one more thing.”

I love to “adjust” things or try to tweak a piece of equipment to get it to perform just a little bit better than it was when I first tried to operate it. Surely, my idea is even better than theirs! This is in direct conflict with the practice of thinking “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” that I have been using in my herbicide programs for the last several years.

This year’s conferences carried a common theme on weed resistance. If you have a program that you feel is working perfectly, you better add something to the mix or you could end up with severe weed pressure from weeds that have adapted resistance to your current management program. This involves learning to identify herbicide families and how they work, then using at least three herbicide families per field per year-just one more thing I need to worry about. In 2017 I will add dicamba resistant soybeans to battle weeds.

When I first let my daughter, Callee, convince me that I needed a 20/20 planter monitor, I did it as a favor to her, because I already knew everything I needed to know about my planter….boy was I in for a surprise! 

Until I could quantify the planting errors that I was making in dollars and cents, they were not in my focus at all.   Once again I had to admit that Callee was right when, several years, ago Precision Planting’s automatic down force, called Delta Force, became the next one more thing which helped me break through yield levels that I never imagined reaching. For 2017 I am adding v-drive (electric meters) to control variable rate seeding and row shutoffs.

Split application of fertilizer is also on our 2017 cropping practice target, so, this year I am looking at several one more things! Split application adds that final push of fertilizer to reach the optimum yield potential on each acre farmed, not field potential but rather dialing in on each acre’s potential. Many one more things could be added to current practices without adding many total dollars to expenses while delivering the highest possible profits.

Plan to attend Bauman Agency’s “Just One More Thing” seminar on Feb 10 at the Nordby 4-H Exhibit Hall on the SD State Fairgrounds. Get insights into 2017 crop market outlooks and new crop insurance strategies as well as the latest in planter enhancements available to make your planter run better than when you bought it. Hopefully your head fills with ideas and you find your just one more thing to make 2017 the best year possible. See you there.

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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

Precision Planting: Try Before You Buy

You still have the ability to get the best out of your planter for the 2016 planting season. To help your planter perform its best we have implemented a “Try It Buy It” Program for this season.

Bauman Agency will outfit your planter with a Precision Planting 20/20 SeedSense for only a $500 installation and setup fee. You run it for the season and then decide if you would like to keep it on your farm. Please call Callee Bauman at (605) 354-6733 to learn more!

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Image Credit: USDA NRCS

There’s Always Room for Innovation

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. This particular expo is DakotaFest – indoors and on steroids. It covers 27 acres under roof and hosts everything from livestock equipment to the latest innovations in farm equipment. A common theme throughout the booths this year was precision application equipment. As we farmers try to cut costs without adversely affecting our bottom line, I am encouraged that there are so many innovative ways to improve our nutrient efficiencies. More effective use of our fixed inputs allows us to lower the overall cost of production per unit vs. 9385458134_9bdf17cbb1_ojust cutting costs in general.

Many exhibitors showcased tillage tools that increase residue breakdown while simultaneously reducing erosion. A huge concern of farmers across the United States is how to better hold the soil where we need it – in our fields. As we flew over the central Corn Belt, it was evident that wind erosion is occurring across a wide span of the country. I do understand that if no fall tillage was done in many areas of the Corn Belt, there would be no crop planted the next spring. It is painful to see soil erosion still occurring even though the dirty 30’s are long behind us and conservation tillage practices are commonplace. I have used “no-till” as a conservation practice for many years, but, in recent years, have adopted strip-tilling as a nutrient placement practice, therefore I do more ground work than a true no-till operation would.

Countless exhibits focused on precision application of seeds, chemicals, and fertilizer. Innovative products were displayed throughout the show. Case IH’s new high speed planter, which is a whole new planter built around Precision Planting parts, beefed up all of the components that might see added stress if there were to be a high speed interaction with a rock. John Deere added an upgrade to their older style planters to allow them to use Deere’s Exact-Emerge technology. Precision Planting has always been about upgrading your current planter, which is typically more economical than trading for new. If farmers aren’t buying new planters, they can still upgrade to the latest technology available through various attachments and products. In short, there are cost effective solutions out there for all planting issues.

Continuing to invest in technology and adopt new practices will enhance your bottom line.   At the same time crop insurance can provide a measure of protection. While we are in the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance sign-up period with a March 15th deadline, cover as many costs as you can. We are in agriculture for the long haul, so be sure to make your crop insurance decisions based on your long term goals – even when the short term outlook seems to be a little scary. My experience tells me that when we least expect it, an opportunity can come along that will change the dynamics of the entire year, so have faith and stick to your plan.

Image Credit: Daniel X. O’Neil

Precision Training Days: March 4th and 16th

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You’ve upgraded your planter – now upgrade your skills! We’ve planned two separate days of training for your convenience. Check the schedule below to see which day fits your needs! Please, remember to bring your 20/20, its power cord, and your charged iPad with you!

Friday, March 4th, 2016 – Huron Event Center

10:00 – 11:30 20/20 and Field View

11:30 – 12:00 Climate Field View

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch (provided)

12:45 – 1:45 Air Force

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – 3:00 Row Flow (bring your prescriptions to load)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 – Huron Event Center

10:00 – 11:30 20/20 and Field View

11:30 – 12:00 Climate Field View

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch (provided)

12:45 – 1:45 Delta Force

1:45 – 2:00 Break

2:00 – 3:00 vDrive/Speed Tube/vSelect (bring your prescriptions to load)

For questions or to RSVP, please contact Callee, Bauman Agency’s Premier Precision Planting and Climate Field View Dealer, at 605-353-1112.

Click here for more information!

Dreamin’ of a Long Winter’s Nap?

“T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winters nap…..”

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Ahhh! Those were the good ol’ days! Remember when we purchased our seed in February? Remember when Pioneer was owned by Pioneer and John Deere just sold machinery? Remember when Congress acted? As I remember it, life was simpler then. But, I’ve got no time for reminiscing!

The combine needs to be cleaned. Planter units need to be removed from the planter, checked, cleaned and calibrated before they can be tucked in for winter. Strip tilling needs doing before the snow flies. Fence needs fixin’. Hay needs haulin’.

My crop insurance agent wants my production – yesterday. I need to meet with the tax preparer so I know what to do before the end of the year, and the banker is getting impatient. Which reminds me, my iPad is still in the combine.

Wait a minute there’s a text comin’ in on my smart phone. Corn is up! Wait, here comes another one. Corn is down. Excuse me, I have to check my Twitter feed. Hmm looks like South America’s soybean crop may be a good one. Now to check this web page to see what the EPA is up to today.

I’ve got someone’s 20/20 here and need to analyze some data for them. First glance tells me the stand was poor, not enough down pressure. Was there enough nitrogen to meet their yield goal? Got a Facebook Christmas greeting from my cousin in Oregon announcing that she’s sworn off GMO’s, red meat, and high fructose corn syrup, and is eating organic, and strictly from the grocery store, just to be safe. (Hope she washes her lettuce reeeal good!) Here’s another text. Margins are tight. I already knew that one!

All of this “incoming” information lands in our laps while at the same time we find ourselves in a tight-margin world. Our heads aren’t just swimming, they hurt! Just as farmers are looking at ways to increase efficiencies and still increase yields to be profitable, so are ag companies. News or rumors of potential mergers, sell offs, or purchases are common place in today’s ag news. The tight margin environment is true for the farmer and his supplier.

Earlier this month Precision Planting, a Monsanto owned company that produces after-market technologies for planters, was purchased by John Deere. We can speculate on why this change in mega corporation ownership occurred, or theorize that the purchase was to eliminate competition. But my long winter’s nap will be more easily attained if I take the view that John Deere recognizes the “tight margin” environment for the ag producer today and is aware that many farmers will need to make adjustments to current equipment, rather than trade for new.

What can be done to sort out all of this information and make an action plan for a profitable 2016? Count on your team of advisors. Your seed supplier, your agronomy support specialist, your equipment and technology providers, your financial advisors and your crop insurance agent will all be helpful in developing a workable plan.

With that in mind, consider attending the Planting Clinic we are hosting December 15th at our Bauman Agency Service Center 9 miles north of Huron. We will help you sort out the incoming and provide valuable assistance in planning for a successful outcome in 2016. Most of all, you’ll sleep like a baby during that long winter’s nap!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Image Credit: Kanko*