Jumping on the Precision Ag Bandwagon

Joe Rush, corn and soybean grower, Walton, Indiana
Joe Rush, corn and soybean grower, Walton, Indiana.

When he purchased his first computer back in the early 1990s, Joe Rush couldn’t get it to do anything but repeat “Syntax Error.” He’s come a long way in the past 25 years.

A semi-retired corn-soybean farmer from Walton, Ind., Rush got on the precision ag bandwagon early on. “We actually did variable rate lime applications before we had computers to do it,” he says. “We grid sampled and bought a spreader truck. I watched a foot counter to tell me how far we went and changed the rate manually as we drove across the field.”

Rush has applied variable rate fertility since the late 1990s. “We soil sampled and put a laptop computer in my truck with an FM antennae to receive signals,” he adds. “We spread potash on a 40-acre field and when we got done we had a couple of five-gallon buckets full leftover. We were excited to have saved product by applying variable rates.”

By the early 2000s, Rush had progressed to using MapShots’ EasiSuite software platform. He used to collect yield data, put it on a card and enter it when he got home. “It was something you did at night or when it rained, so you easily got behind,” notes Rush. “If you were doing something wrong, you might have four or five fields harvested before you realized it.”

Now that Rush has migrated to using MapShots’ AgStudio® services FARM platform, he knows instantly if a setting is off or something else is wrong. “Since we’re uploading through the Internet with cloud-based systems, data entry is automatic,” he adds. “AgStudio services really helps with all the variable rate inputs.”

Variable Rate and Location Applications

In addition to variable rate fertility, Rush has embraced variable rate seeding and variable rate anhydrous sidedressing on his 100% strip-till acreage. Eventually, he hopes to make variable location insecticide applications through satellite imagery.

This year, Rush plans to use the new AgStudio SELECT and AgStudio NOTES programs on his iPad® device. A web-based browser version of AgStudio services, SELECT provides mobile access to the databases in the field through use of tablet devices. With the NOTES feature, growers can grab a photo or make handwritten notes in the field and geo-tag them to a specific location.

“If we’re scouting a soybean field and find aphids that need to be sprayed, we can pinpoint the field location through our database,” Rush explains. “We can look at fields through aerial imagery and notice there’s something wrong. But you need to actually scout the field to see what the problem is.”

Letting Landlords View Information

Rush farms a lot of his ground on a 50-50 basis. At this point, he only rents from two landlords, but one has relatives living several states away. With AgStudio services, he can allow them access to the database of information for their farms. It helps him justify his inputs and show them online that he is putting nutrients back into their land.

“Commodity inventory is the coming thing and AgStudio services is offering that soon,” adds Rush. “This will be a big help to us. Once we get the harvest data entered, we can post-calibrate it we can get a true yield map. Since true yield is what we get paid on, this is an important step forward.”

Now that he’s semi-retired, Rush partners with a young farmer, Jon Guy, to custom farm for him. Guy leases Rush’s equipment and rents some of his leased land. He will eventually take over the operation.

“Since I’ve been involved in precision ag for so long, I have data from 20 years ago that I haven’t even used,” he says. “Jon is pushing me to use it. With AgStudio services, I think we can finally do it.”

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