Connected Farm Delivers Speed and Accuracy to Large Operations
Monday, June 11th, 2012
In February, Crossroads Family Farms in Fortville, IN received seven new Challenger tractors equipped with Trimble's Connected Farm™ integrated operations management solution. During this spring's planting, data from the tractors was sent wirelessly to the farm office, creating greater efficiencies in the office and the field.
"The system lets us stay on top of calibrations and quickly correct anything that is off," said Brad Stephenson, co-owner of Crossroads Family Farms. "In the office, what used to take a person two days to do now takes half a day."
Crossroads is a fourth-generation family farm owned by Brad, Todd and their wives Stacey and Christy. The farm is 100 percent corn grown on several thousand acres of land spread across multiple counties in Indiana. Landowners range from retired farmers, family, friends, and out-of-state landowners to businesses and farm management companies. The Stephenson's expect changes in the production agriculture industry will drive the need for an expanded acreage base to stay competitive.
Managing size and scale
Crossroads has used variable rate technology for 10 to 15 years to optimize yields. Systems on the tractors and combines set the target rates for seed, fertilizer, ammonia and other inputs on a field level and record the actual application rates.
"Previously we would physically bring the data back to the office at the end of the day. On the next day, the data would be downloaded into our office systems and then we would look for any miscalibrations, reconcile inventories and update our accounting records," Stephenson said.
With the wireless data transfer capabilities of Connected Farm, control systems throughout the farm are updated the same day. That saves time and can improve accuracy, according to Stephenson.
"We always reconcile the data in our systems three times to make sure it's accurate. With Connected Farm we can save up to 12 hours on reconciling data. And we don't have any issues with forgetting to bring cards in to the office or cards not working."
There have been instances when the wireless data transfer has not worked due to poor reception by the modems in the tractors. In those cases, the system will wait and transfer data the following day.
"It's like your cell phone. Depending on where the tractor is on the field, it may not have good reception," Stephenson explained. "That's the only challenge we've faced with the system."
Recommending Connected Farm
Although Crossroads Family Farms hasn't yet experienced the Connected Farm solution during a harvest, Stephenson would recommend the system to other farmers.
"It worked fine for us in the planting season. However to take advantage of Connected Farm you need people working in the office during the day. You need to be sure that your operation can sustain a dedicated person," Stephenson said.
More information on Crossroads Family Farms at www.crossroadsfamilyfarms.net. More information on Trimble and the Connected Farm integrated operations management solution is available at www.trimble.com/agriculture and www.connectedfarm.com.