Monday, May 17, 2010

Technology enhances producers capabilities

CAPTION: Tom Brace shows Tim Bird of Madison how a lightbar could be hooked up to shut off row sections of a planter during a visit to Lake County International.

In the more than 46 years that Tom Brace has been working at Lake County International in Madison, he has seen various changes in agriculture; maybe none as important as adding technology to help the producers.
“Today’s technology is helping farm producers make their operations more profitable, Brace said. “With the input costs going up, they may need to make changes in their operation to improve the bottom line.”
Just recently, Brace was showing Tim Bird of Madison how a lightbar could be hooked up to shut off row sections of a planter during a visit to Lake County International.
Bird said the technology saves seed in the long run by not double planting on rows. “It shuts off when it is supposed to,” he said.
It seems to be the way technology is going, said Bird, who does custom work in the area. “It saves our customer the seed,” he said. “It is supposed to be saving money.”
According to Wikipedia, precision farming uses new technologies, such as global positioning (GPS), sensors, satellites or aerial images and information management tools (GIS) to assess and understand variations. The collected information can be used to more precisely evaluate optimum sowing density, estimate fertilizers and other input needs, as well as more accurately predict crop yields.
And that new technology is what Brace has been working with to help farmers and producers save on expenses and improve profit.
When Brace started in Madison, he was a service technician and then became the service manger from 1967 to 2006. Now, he is selling and servicing precision farming equipment and is the company’s Precision Farming Specialist.
“I got into the Precision Farming after leaving the service manager position and into outside sales for the parts and service departments,” Brace said. “About that time, the auto guidance started getting very popular and I got started selling and installing auto steer systems. I like working with the technology and making a tractor steer itself across the field.”
Lake County International sells auto guidance equipment that includes lightbars, auto steer kits and sprayer boom controls, as well as row shutoff clutches for planters to save seed at planting time and increase harvest yields due to not over planting.
The lightbar guides the machinery through the field in a straight line and prevents overlap which saves fuel and wear on the equipment, Brace said. “Auto steering makes farming more efficient than just the lightbar,” he said. “We have gone from tractors without cabs to tractors today that have cabs, air conditioning, auto steer and cruise control in the 46 years that I have been working with Lake County International.”
And that is not the end of technology, according to Brace. “I think the technology will keep improving and we will see remote control tractors and combines in the future,” he said. “We have to keep up with the technology by continuously attending training sessions two or three times a year.”

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