Sidekick Pro system provides precision application of fertilizer Photo courtesy of Raven
BUILT FOR PLANTERS: Raven worked with Ag Solutions Group to design the new Sidekick Pro unit. Linked to the Raven Control Module, the system provides precision application of fertilizer and other products in-furrow at planting.

New tool for in-furrow application at planting

Raven rolling out Sidekick Pro unit for in-furrow application; the company also ramps up precision ag field support.

There’s a growing interest in placing product in the furrow at planting. Fertilizer as a starter may have pioneered the idea, but the rise of new products designed to be used in-furrow offers new opportunities for growers. Yet how do you precisely place that material in the furrow at planting?

Raven has an answer with the Sidekick Pro, a turnkey system you can tie into your planter to inject products into the stream as needed. This precision system works well with fertilizer as a carrier since it can inject other products into the stream without the need to mix. “The system used the Raven Control Module, which can control up to five products, and increasing precision is important,” says Gary Esselink, Raven. “We’re placing products more precisely than ever.”

He points to products that are applied at 8 ounces per acre, and with this system, that means the tank would cover 560 acres on a fill. The system also has its own full-rinse setup that helps prep it for the next product to use.

“If a farmer is placing fertilizer at planting, this system will work great to add fungicide, for example,” Esselink says. Raven has already been involved in precision in-furrow systems like the tools used to apply Force insecticide, and he adds that the Sidekick Pro works with insecticides, too.

That RCM from Raven is an ISO controller that can tie into the planter monitor and help accurately apply a range of products. The unit works with up to five products, precisely placing each as needed.

The system has an automatic calibration feature for easier setup so users can get moving faster, and the calibration system is closed, so there’s no need for catch tests or chemical exposure.

Injection systems for planting offer the ability to avoid mixing and get into the field faster. Learn more at ravenprecision.com.

Ramping up support
Ryan Molitor, director of customer experience, Raven, made an interesting comment during a conversation recently. “Someday we want to have more precision ag specialists than we do salespeople in the field.” It’s a bold statement, but the company is investing in a PAS team that has two roles — train dealers and train end users in the use of Raven equipment.

“We found that the calls we were getting into our support center were often simple issues,” he said. “We realized that there was an opportunity to invest in training.”

He had customers noting that Raven knew how products worked, and that the information wasn’t getting into the field. “That’s when we doubled down on training, and that has reduced support calls to our ag group,” Molitor said.

Added Esselink: “We’re able to touch more people with training with these specialists in the field.” He shares that when training was only at the home office in Sioux Falls, S.D., a dealer might send two or three people; but with PAS regional training events, that same dealer will send 10 people.

A common lament from farmers is that all this new tech needs added support, and that companies need to step up. Molitor nodded at that sentiment, noting that not only is Raven investing with the PAS group, but the company also recently announced a $5 million investment in the four-year precision ag degree program at South Dakota State University.

“That’s part of our commitment to training,” Molitor explained. “The No. 1 problem we’re hearing about is the challenge of finding and developing talent in the precision ag industry. There’s a growing need for people to support, sell and implement these tools.”

Molitor noted that Raven has 12 PAS folks at work globally, and the company will continue adding to this team going forward.

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