I don’t want to pretend we’re on the very cutting edge, but we do try and adopt newer technologies,” says Jordan Kambeitz, who farms more than 20,000 acres near Regina. “We’re working right now with variable rate seeding and fertilizer. We’re working on inter-row seeding in canola with RTK. We’re using sectional control on our drill.”
And he’s analyzing the benefits and opportunities these systems provide by collecting and blending field data from all of his machines. To best do that, he has adopted a single-brand equipment strategy. He believes — among its other benefits — using only one machinery brand across his entire fleet allows him to collect more and better management data than he could with a mixed fleet.
Kambeitz’s equipment fleet is now entirely blue. “Using one brand creates a simpler approach,” he says. “Not only is it simpler and easier for the staff, it creates a (digital) platform that is a lot more integrated, and it’s easier to get help (when things go wrong).
“We’re using some of the precision land management software through New Holland,” he explains. “We’re starting to integrate a lot of the processes in the operation since we’re using all the same brand of equipment. It’s a lot easier now to do mapping and data analysis at the end of the year.
“All of this stuff sounds easy when you look at the brochures, but when it comes to down to it, in the heat of the moment, you want to get the seed in the ground or the chemical applied. The user-friendly nature of some of these systems is the difference between doing it and talking about it. We’ve had lots of different (brands). I think the fact that we’re sitting with a single supplier with an integrated system is what makes it easier for us to adopt a lot of these new precision ag and software tools.”
Recently, his management techniques caught the attention of people at New Holland’s head office. He is one of several farmers the company is profiling in its 2014 marketing campaign.
From the Country Guide website: Connecting the dots
Ten per cent savings
While Kambeitz says it’s difficult to put an exact dollar figure on the value of having highly integrated digital management information, the benefits of some of the precision farming features on his equipment are easier to measure. Sectional control on his air drills is one that stands out.
“The single, largest dollar savings four us has come from sectional control” he says. “Many farmers have been presented with the formula (from manufacturers) that it will pay for your drill in five years. Realistically, though, I’m seeing a 10 per cent reduction in input costs.”
“That 10 per cent doesn’t sound like much. But to give you an example, the very first year we had to quit using our sectional control because there were some glitches with it. Near the end of the (seeding season) I calculated my fertilizer input requirements at what my seeded acres were plus 10 per cent. That 10 per cent overage actually turned out to be 20 per cent (at the end of the season). When you take 10 per cent of 2,000 tonnes of fertilizer, that’s quite a bit. That’s $100,000 give or take.”
The kind of opportunities an integrated digital management system offers allows him to better build on those kinds of efficiencies, because the compatibility of data coming from seeders, sprayers and yield monitors on combines is better than he had in the past when using a mixed fleet.
“We used to not do it at all,” Kambeitz says. “Then it got to the point where we would look at data separately and try to infer something from that. Now, all the data coming from that same system overlaps and integrates very easily. It becomes a lot easier now to chart, plan and look at trends and do better analysis.”
With such a large farm, the stakes are high. “In the days of $13, $14 canola you weren’t forced to analyse the details as much,” he explains. “It allowed you to be a little bit looser in the operation. Times of adversity call for better analysis.”
“We put so much time and effort into trying new chemicals, seeding rates and seeding dates, at the end of the day why don’t we do a better job of analyzing all those things?” Says Kambeitz, “I think (digital technology) is another tool. It’s more information. Information is power.”Scott Garvey is machinery editor for Grainews. Contact him at [email protected].