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How farmers are solving 4 common challenges with precision ag

January 16, 2023

When it comes to defining the core value of precision ag technology, farmers often cite the professional and personal payback.

The benefits range from the practical – such as solving equipment compatibility headaches and improving crop consistency with repeatable guidance – to the intangible advantages of reducing stress and maximizing time. 

While the pace of precision ag today can be overwhelming, it’s worth revisiting how proven technology solutions can conquer common challenges to improve farm performance, production and profitability.

1. Overcoming Labor Limitations 

The availability of part-time or permanent equipment operators continues to be a global challenge for farmers. While fully autonomous innovations may alleviate labor constraints in the future, adoption of brand-agnostic guidance and modern in-cab displays allow farmers to make the most of their current help.

With three full-time and three contract employees, Australian farmer David Caslick can’t afford to spend extensive time training operators. His investment in compatible, user-friendly technology streamlines the process - regardless of equipment brand - converting training time into up-time in the field. 

In 2010, Caslick started with a Trimble EZ-Guide 250® display and has since added autosteer on his fleet of tractors, the Field-IQ crop input control system on his sprayer, CenterPoint® RTX positioning, and, most recently, upgraded to the GFX-1060 display. 

“Anyone can jump into any tractor and it doesn’t have to be the same brand. It’s made me a lot more comfortable hiring temporary labor as it’s so easy to train them for doing the day’s work,” Caslick says.

2. Accomplishing More, Using Less

The rising cost of production – from fuel to fertilizer – is another challenge that farmers are using precision ag tools to help overcome.

For California farmer Scott Seus, smarter water management is critical to raising a profitable specialty crop, and that starts with having a connected technology platform across the operation.

“Water efficiency is the foremost thing we’re thinking about, from field to field,” he says. “We’re turning a corner now to nudge a little more performance out of our specialty plants with more integrated tools to make the most of our critical resources at any given time.” 

3. Smarter Resource Management

Progressive adoption of precision tools allows farmers to maximize efficiency and minimize risk. And sustainable, regenerative ag practices will favor farmers who have captured the economic and environmental ROI of foundational technology.

For example, Caslick runs Precision-IQ with his equipment guidance and has seen a 10-15% savings, particularly on chemicals for spraying, since he began using precision ag technology.

And fellow Australian Tim Simpson has also prioritized precision ag adoption to stretch input investments since returning to the family farm in 2017. He started with autosteer and most recently added the GFX-1260 display with ISOBUS controls. 

“With commodity prices and input costs rising, businesses have to invest in precision ag to remain profitable,” he says. “Since adopting precision ag tools, our farm has noticed considerable savings in fertilizer and seed and chemicals. I don’t think it’s a big number to say if you invest in precision ag, you’ll see a 5-10% benefit in savings.” 

“Since using precision ag, I’ve noticed a 10-15% savings, particularly on chemicals for spraying.” - David Caslick, Australian Farmer 

4. Simple, But Specific
With a diverse fleet of equipment including tractors, combines and swathers, Oregon farmer Jason Dennis has 4-5 machines running in the field at any given time. And raising profitable alfalfa, hay, carrot seed and grass seed requires that his equipment and operators provide reliable, repeatable results

He runs a GFX-1060 display in the cab of his Case IH Puma tractor and CenterPoint RTX positioning. The tools equip operators with simple, yet specific solutions for accurate planting, spraying and harvesting.

Trusting the technology and the understanding operators have of it boosts the confidence Dennis has in annually raising a profitable crop.

 “I’ve noticed a lot less driver fatigue and a lot more production since I’ve put guidance on my equipment.”- Jason Dennis, Oregon Farmer

“Training was really easy, and navigating the menus was simple and straightforward. The screens are easy to set up, easy to navigate,” he says. “We’re cultivating right next to that carrot seed, so we need to maintain that sub-inch or inch accuracy because if we hit that seed, we’re out that money.”

Ready to get started? Visit Trimble Virtual Farm to learn how Trimble precision solutions can help you solve some of your most common challenges to run a more profitable, productive farm operation.