Sprayer Systems are Cool Again

3-16-17 Sprayer Systems are Cool Again from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Keith Byerly

by Keith Byerly

All too often, in Precision Ag, we get drawn in by the shiny new objects. The newest gadget or widget on the market garners all of our attention, and we wait to learn more and learn its ROI. And when this happens, all too often we forget about some of the older players on our bench. And that is a shame because some of those veterans bring a lot of value to our farm. As I have spent some time recently attending meetings about managing the new traits and herbicide tolerances that are out on the market, it occurs to me that we need spend some time talking about spray control technology.

After Yield Monitors, no other Precision Ag system has been around as long as Spray Controllers. The reason they were on the market 20 years ago was that with the herbicides that we used, there was a need. Then came the world of Roundup, and we got to the point that things were simple and we didn’t need to worry a whole lot. But obviously, things have changed. And I think there are three very good reasons why (if you are doing your own application) that an Ag Leader Direct Command system is an important piece to have on your farm.

Mapping your coverage is nothing new. But having a skip nowadays is almost unforgivable. If we missed something with roundup, we just hit it with more and hopefully killed it. You miss weeds now, and you can’t add more on a follow-up application because it might kill this year’s crop or next year’s crop in that area. Getting it right the first time matters. But this is kind of the low hanging fruit. Most monitors can map coverage. So we need to also talk about Autoswath. Having the machine control overlap is just as important for the same reason. And again, many machines can do this, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.

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So then we move on to communication. Having the ability to sync data from machine to machine is definitely cool, but with these new management tools, it is also vitally important. With Displays like the Ag Leader InCommand 1200, having a background map of what is planted where should not be a luxury, but a normal expectation. And having those maps sync automatically means more chance to see that data ahead of time and not make a mistake applying the wrong herbicide. Other systems will sync data also, but not all of them sync sprayer data.

And then finally, there is the reporting side. Getting all of this onto a display is well and good, but getting it out of the display is equally important for record keeping and reporting. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on software to print reports. With the InCommand 1200, they come out as pdf’s you can share with anybody. Because keeping tabs on location and rotation will be important, and you, your agronomists, and your Seed Advisor will all need to be in this together.

So the real takeaway from all of this today is two-fold. First, of course, a quality Precision Ag System like Ag Leaders will make this task much easier to keep straight. But what I want all of you to come away from this with is that these steps need to be followed regardless of whom you have doing your application. You need to share your accurate planting maps with that person. That person needs to be using technology to assist them in doing the best possible job. And you should be able to rest easy at night know the plan was executed properly. My task for you is to make sure we follow these steps regardless. It is ok to ask questions and to double check. We have too much riding on this to make dumb mistakes that are avoidable.