At the 2018 Farm Journal AgTech Expo, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie will present a keynote address and three breakout sessions. His big message to farmers right now: technology is here to stay, and it’s the route that most farmers will be able to use to stay profitable.
“When we talk about farmers using technology, everyone has different goals,” he says. “And that is where to start: talk through what you want technology to do for you; and what technology tools you’re most interested in.”
Ferrie believes technology should be held to a high bar—not just increasing yields but also reducing input costs to maximize the return on investment.
In his consulting business, Crop-Tech Consulting, Ferrie has seen first-hand how technology can help do just that. He says the core principle to not overlook is letting technology get ahead of agronomy.
He shared more with Chip Flory on a recent edition of AgriTalk:
“We have to stay grounded with good agronomy,” he says.
That said, he thinks technology is easier to implement than even just five years ago.
“There are things to not overlook,” he says. “Such as variable-rate fertilizer, and how a farmer can move from a blanket application to variable rate to not overapply or underapply in certain areas of the field and work with their retailer who would be the one really making the investment in the technology to do so.”
Also, Ferrie sees value in technology used with the planter pass.
“There are simple ways to use technology such as row shut offs, which are big seed savers,” he says. “And then some ideas need more thought and understanding behind them, such as variable rate populations, so the farmer knows the genetics, hybrids, and soils they are working with.”
Despite being a more complex application of technology, Ferrie has seen farmers make the investment with time and tools in variable rate populations pay off—big time.
“A lot of growers are finding certain hybrids can tolerate lower or higher populations in certain areas of the field, and that is increasing yields and decreasing seed costs,” he says.