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Family turns to more tech

We're following an Illinois family that's investing in tech across the operation for 2016 and beyond.

A recent USDA report shows that deployment of GPS-corrected yield maps on farms isn't as widespread as many might perceive. Yet more are turning to the tech and learning that even basic advancements like auto-steering, section control and GPS-corrected yield maps offer payback.

Starting this month, we're following Kilmer Farms as they begin deploying new tech on their farm operation. The operation, which includes oversight by a grandfather, and work by the father and two sons, has been a successful northern Illinois operation. In recent years, however, the addition of more land to farm has brought the need for more extensive management and decision-making, which has let to an interest in deploying more efficient tech.

Farm Industry News caught up with them in the heat of harvest for a day of conversation, and a video shoot. Father, Darryl, and the two sons Dan, and Tim, were fully engaged with two combines running and a grain cart hard at work so no machine would stop to a rest.

"We weren't sure of the value of the technology," says Darryl. "We have done well without adding those tools" While he professes to be a non-tech person, Darryl didn't find the learning curve too steep as he started using the new tools.

Working with Justin Blanchette, precision ag business manager, AHW, Dwight, Ill., the farmers are learning the tools have value.

A spring start

Earlier this year they added auto steering to tractors and section control to their planter. With combines rolling, they're already reviewing yield maps.

"We know there are issues in certain fields, but the maps really help us figure that out," says Dan. "We're already making seed decisions for next year, and the maps are really helping us."

The key, he says, is that the information will pay off in better seed selection for 2017. But beyond that, the equipment has also been enabled with JDLink Connect telematics for Wireless Data Transfer and Remote Display Access. "That's already come in handy," Dan says. "We’ve helped each other by looking at the other's display to solve issues."

Tim, who was in the combine the day we visited, had a hands-off day as the S670 moved through the corn field. "I can spend so much more time monitoring the system, and the machine without worrying about staying on the row," he adds.

The section control on the planter was a big boost last spring too. Dan explains that they would cultivate out those 'cross rows' after planting, which meant extra time in the field. With section control, there was no overlap. "That not only saved us time but we turned seed back to our dealer because we didn't plant as much," says Dan.

This is a family operation, where father and sons, are working together for the success of the operation. While Darryl wasn't initially keen on adding the technology, he's a get-it-done kind of person. Seeing the efficiency boost with the addition of the technology in the first season, he's buying in. As for Dan and Tim, the tech is helping too.

This series will follow how they deploy the technology on the farm, and what they learn. For many producers "on the fence" about technology investment, their experience as successful operators fully deploying new tech offers insight into the payback of the technology.

You can also check out a video with the Kilmers by visiting

TAGS: Equipment
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