Precision Ag Tech tools make farmer better steward of land

10 Dec 2017

Advanced Manufacturing, Ag and Forest

Kevin Poppel’s most trusted tool is his iPad. That’s because precision agriculture is the basis for every decision he makes at Poppel Family Farms between Lake Crystal and Madelia.

“Today we don’t plant or fertilize or spray without some sort of precision-type recommendation,” Poppel said.

Precision agriculture uses farm data and satellites to map out fields. Farmers can respond to soil and field variabilities in choosing seeds, planting and fertilizing rates. The goal is to be profitable and sustainable.

County Line Ag, a 360 Yield Center dealer in Madelia, sends Poppel custom crop reports based on a GPS map of his fields throughout the growing season. On his iPad screen, he can see what’s happening in his fields. With this custom report, Poppel can track the same area every year and identify spatial variability. The result is an actionable plan based on scrubbed data.

“Our goal is to manage as tightly as we can,” he said.

Real-time data is sent to his iPad, so he can drop a pin anywhere in his field map and walk right to a trouble spot. Come harvest, he notes the pins as he combines. He can see if yields were affected in those areas.

“Now it’s all at our fingertips. What it can show you is just amazing.”

Poppel takes a systematic approach to managing the farm. Grid maps and soil samples prescribe variable rate fertilizing, variable rate planting and multi-hybrid planting. Precision farmers often lower their input costs on seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

With low commodity prices and high input costs, precision agriculture is a necessity, he said.

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