Embracing precision agriculture means reduced costs and more family-time
In the Irish village of Glenbrien, farmer Don Somers grows winter and spring cereals. A staffing issue made him realise he wanted to work in a more timely and cost-effective way. In 2018, he switched to precision agriculture. Topcon technology helps him to improve the quality and quantity of the yield and soil in an unprecedented way. And the best thing? He can put his kids to bed now!
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Topcon solution for a tillage farmer Don Somers, Ireland
Cultivating his ancestors’ farm, small tillage farmer Don Somers had a pretty good idea of how to get the best out of the wide variety of soil on the premises, ranging from sandy soils to heavy clay soils. Together with his uncle, he managed to develop a solid approach on how to efficiently maximise the yield when growing winter wheat, winter oat, winter barley, winter oilseed rape, spring beans and spring barley.
Yet with long hours and a lack of skilled employees, he longed for a smarter solution. Could precision agriculture be the answer? After exploring various options, he opted for Topcon technology. To ensure the solutions offered reach optimum performance in Don’s every day practice, Don receives guidance from Topcon Product Specialist, Craig England.
Topcon didn’t just sell me a product, they wanted to know how I would use it now, and in the future. Their advice made me save thousands of euros on equipment alone.
Key decisions based on data
During the past four years, Don Somers has adopted several Topcon solutions that have become key for his daily decision making.
Don now runs an autosteer solution with X35/AGI-4 on Ntrip RTK that allows him to define and follow an x-y positioned path with his tractor. To make intelligent business decisions, for instance, on moisture, cut-rate and weight, Don uses YieldTrakk yield monitoring solution.
“One of the main challenges farmers like Don face is to improve soil health in a cost-effective way. Using YieldTrakk allows Don to pinpoint the areas showing major differences. Instead of soil sampling every hectare, he only needs to soil sample the areas showing major differences,” explains Craig England, Product Specialist at Topcon.
Don also relies on another Topcon solution, CropSpec, to control the ISOBUS fertiliser spreader on his tractor. CropSpec generates maps for true variable-rate prescription application which allows Don to know exactly how much fertiliser to use in different parts of the field.
“CropSpec scans the crop as I drive through the field. It allows me to make a variable rate of fertiliser application on the crop. Particularly important this year, due to the high costs of fertiliser. I used it far more efficiently while maintaining a high yield,” Don Somers explains.
“Don is also up and running with the Topcon Agriculture Platform (TAP), in which he can bring together all his data from the fields such as YieldTrakk, as-applied maps and CropSpec data. Based on the insights collected from the cloud-based solution he can then make the right decisions and VRC-maps for the coming tasks in the field,” concludes Craig England, Product Specialist at Topcon who is closely supporting Don in the use of Topcon solutions.
Thanks to the data-driven approach, Don doesn’t need to be physically in the field to monitor what’s happening. In fact, he can see the results of his efforts in the comfort of his own home.
This solution really makes a difference. I wanted to maximise the yield and spend time with my family.
And now I do.
Reduced costs, improved efficiency and more quality time at home
Having experience of using Topcon technology since 2018, Don is able to make a thorough evaluation of the technology. Has the data-driven approach really paid off? “Yes,” says Don, with an enthusiasm based on more than his own experience.
“My uncle, with whom I farm in partnership, does not want to use some of the technological solutions I do. But I do make yield maps for him. Comparing our results, I can see I use 10% less fertiliser and have a lower level of variability based on soil type or compaction of headlands,” Don concludes.
Don is thrilled with the results he has been able to achieve with the help of Topcon solutions, reducing his operational costs, improving efficiency and ultimately affording him more quality time at home.
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