Connecting the dots on ag technology

Silent Shade Planting Co. uses 21 different software programs to help make sure the farming operation stays at the forefront of agricultural technology, according to Jeremy Jack, one of the partners in the 8,500-acre cotton, corn, soybean, rice and wheat farm.

Running all those programs and trying to get them to communicate with each other is a challenge, but it’s one Jeremy Jack; his sister, Stacie Jack-Koger; and her husband, Trey Koger, are willing to take on for the sake of their operation near Belzoni, Miss.

“When you think about it, if you’re early adopters you’re the first ones in the game,” says Jeremy Jack. “You’re the ones who are going to reap the biggest rewards out of it. You’re also the ones with the biggest risks.”

Jeremy Jack’s comments came during a presentation at the National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference in Baton Rouge, La. He was one of more than 120 farmers, consultants, university Extension specialists and researchers and industry representatives who spoke during the two-day event that rotates between the North and South Deltas.

“These are what we call the hammers in our office toolbox,” said Jack, pointing to a slide. “These are all the precision software programs that we’re using every day. These are actually owned by three or four of us. From the financial side to moving dirt to recordkeeping on crops to making our prescription maps, this is what we go through.”

The most troublesome for Jack is the Excel program, which he repeated three times in the list of the 21 programs he displayed. But the problem with all these programs is that none of them talk to each other,” he noted.

“I went on our server, typed in xls and hit search to see how many excel files I have right now, how many we go through, how many we’ve used,” he said. “1,250. How much time does it take to do all these things; how much downtime and how slow are we moving toward integrating this information.”

Jack says all of the partners’ software enhancement efforts start with Global Positioning Systems or GPS. “GPS is the foundation, not the roof. Don’t think that is the end or the cure-all. All those things I went through build off GPS.

Currently, Silent Shade’s operators can perform a variety of digital tasks, including recordkeeping, monitoring, imagery, efficiency, tracking and “everything with variable rate.”

Jack gave illustrations of how the farm is using its digital capabilities to determine the most efficient use of crop protection chemicals. One is an Aproach fungicide vs. Prevathon insecticide, Aproach-Prevathon together and an untreated check trial with DuPont and Pioneer.

“With all the software we have we can see the differences,” he said. “There’s no going out and flagging. The plane cuts on and cuts off at pre-determined intervals and GPS shows us exactly where those treatments occurred and how they affected yield.”

In a second, the farm managers planted different seeding rates of a new variety to determine how they performed with different soil types and fertility applications.

“Now this looks like a lot of work for a farmer to go through and analyze all these numbers,” he said. “I’m not proofing what we did wrong or what we did right here. The technology exists today that you can use on your farm and set you apart from the next producer.”

For more information about Silent Shade, visit https://www.facebook.com/SilentShadePlantingCompany

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