Symon Allen and his family were early adopters of precision farming technology; they started to create digital farming records in Agworld in 2012, at which time they also started to variable rate seed their crops. In order to keep maximizing profit, but make the process as quick and simple as possible, they know they have to have the right equipment and partners in place.
Already using John Deere tractors exclusively, using the JD Operations Centre is self-explanatory for the Allen family. Because PCT is seamlessly integrated with both the JD Operations centre and Agworld, using PCT Agcloud makes a lot of sense as well. By incorporating local precision ag specialists Breezy Hill Precision Ag Services into the mix, it has become easy for Symon and his team to use all this technology without it taking a lot of time and effort.
By using a variety of field data such as soil type, soil nutrients, yield maps and application history, Breezy Hill Precision Ag Services is able to make accurate variable rate seed and fertilizer scripts for Allen Ag. Because of this approach, Allen Ag is able to maximize the yield potential of their fields.
Symon Allen is the 4th generation farmer on the family's Kimba, SA, property, growing a rotation of wheat, barley, canola, peas, lupins, lentils and vetch on approx 16,000 acres . Although the property has been managed by the family for a long time already, the main challenges still remain the same, says Symon: “We have a wide variety of different soil types here, which makes it hard to farm our large fields in such a way that maximizes the yield across the whole field. It's easy to cater to the one main soil type of a field but, when you're trying to maximize your results, you really have to optimize the way you farm each different part of a field.”
Symon continues: “We do also use the services of an agronomist, Josh Hollitt, who is our independent advisor. Josh knows our farm very well and is able to help us work with the different soil types and their constraints, and figure out how we can overcome some of the challenges that these individual soil types present. Josh uses Agworld to create his plans and recommendations, and we use Agworld to record all our field records in, so that makes it easy for us to 'digitally interact' with each other. At the beginning of the year we sit together with Josh to create a plan for the upcoming season, with costs of each operation attached to the plan as well. As the season progresses and we turn recommendations into records, we make sure to keep our costs up-to-date so we know exactly where our break-even is for each field and which fields have cost more than others, and why.”
“We have been using Agworld since 2012, when we were one of the early adopters, to create spray records and do basic planning, and we now collect as much data as we can to store it on the Agworld platform. From yield maps to soil analysis and anything else we have access to; the more data we gather to use ourselves and share with our agronomist, the better our results are going to be at the other end.”
Combining field records with geospatial data
In order to create an even more complete digital picture of each field and take the next step in their digital journey, Symon decided to start using PCT Agcloud this year. He explains: “PCT Agcloud helps us get different data layers such as soil analysis into Agworld. From there, I have access to it year round, whether I'm behind my desk or in the field on the Agworld app, and am able to reference it when I need it. The best part of that is that Josh can see the exact same information as well, so it helps him with his decision making process throughout the season.”
Symon adds: “We don't only use PCT Agcloud to get data layers into Agworld, but also to help with the creation of prescriptions. This year we've started with a basic variable rate phosphorus replacement program that has divided each field into three to five zones, based on soil analysis. The next step will be using field data to create variable rate top dressing maps for in-crop applications of urea. With fertilizer prices sky-high at the moment we have to make sure that every ton gets placed where it gets us the best bang for buck. The same with gypsum applications; we'll start to get variable rate application maps for them too instead of wasting product with blanket-applications across the field.”
“We have been using variable rate technology for almost 10 years now, mainly for seeding up to this point. It was easy for us to recognize the need for it, with different germination percentages on lighter soils, so that provided an easy starting point for us with simply drawing zones around sand hills and increasing the seeding rate in these areas. In order to start with variable rate fertilizer applications however we needed to have more data such as yield maps and satellite imagery to create zones. Now that we have this available, we are ready for this next step.”
Using the right resources
Using the right resources, from equipment and software to boots on the ground, is important for the Allen family in their digital journey says Symon: “When I was planning our next step in variable rate applications I was envisioning myself sitting in front of a computer screen for a couple of weeks and trying to make things work somehow. Having Jess Koch with Breezy Hill PAS do this for me has made a huge difference in simplifying our precision journey. She is good and quick at this work and I can focus on other things around the farm instead of sitting in front of a computer. Especially leading up to seeding, it's important that I have enough time to prepare our equipment and fields properly.”
Symon: “I'm sure I could do this myself if I really tried, but it would take a long time and I'm sure I wouldn't do as good a job as Jessica does. To me, having a precision expert involved in our business is the same as hiring an accountant to do my tax return or a mechanic to fix a broken down tractor; could I do those things myself? Probably. Do I want to, and am I the most economical person to do these jobs? Absolutely not. It's all about working out who is best positioned to do a certain task on our farm, and in this case for us that is Breezy Hill PAS. Similar to using Agworld, PCT Agcloud and MyJohnDeere, Breezy Hill is a piece of the puzzle for us and part of the solution that I believe will push our yields to the next level.”
Jessica Horstman, Mulga Springs, Northampton, WA, and her family use two separate farm management platforms: Agworld for cropping and Mobble for livestock. While both are best-in-class, operators do need to switch between systems to see specific cropping and livestock information.
Deadfinish Farm and Tincurrin Rural ServicesDudinin, WA
In-field Data Accessibility
Clinton Mullan previously utilised a legacy technology provider to create plans for his agronomy clients, but this system was not cloud-based and was not available in-field; making in-season decision making challenging.