Luke Lowery is an agronomist by trade, but works as a sales and service technician for Bottom Line Solutions, a precision farming equipment sales and service dealer in Morton, Ill.
Growing up, he worked closely with his great uncle and cousin on their 900-acre corn and soybean farm near Deer Creek, Ill., and is still involved with equipment maintenance and upgrades. That experience provided some keen insights into what farmers want from precision dealers, which he’s leveraged both on his family’s operation and as precision farming equipment consultant.
Throughout college, he honed his agronomic skills as a crop scout for a local fertilizer dealer. Today, Lowery’s experience and training helps Bottom Line Solutions, which provides precision farming equipment and expertise to area farmers, helps customers achieve higher yields and lower costs. “With corn at $3 per bushel, farmers need that assurance about their investment in the equipment,” Lowery says.
About 15 years ago, he worked with his family as they transitioned to strip-till in their operation. “We bought our first strip-tillage tool 10 years ago and have been modifying it every year since,” Lowery says. Recent additions to their Progressive 6200 strip-till bar include rolling baskets to help build a better berm in the spring. They use a 16 row Case IH 1250 planter and an RTK signal from a Trimble 6500 receiver to achieve the sub-inch accuracy needed to successfully strip-till corn and soybeans, however, they have not yet adopted variable-rate seeding or fertilizer application.
Lowery has also been involved with helping Bottom Line Solutions build a strip-till system that they will use to provide custom planting services and help farmers evaluate cropping practices by making side-by-side comparisons.
Staying on the strip is key, Lowery says, and to achieve that, Bottom Line Solutions uses a Soil Warrior strip-till unit that’s auto-steered by an Ag Leader InCommand 1200 monitor and a 6500 receiver for RTK accuracy. The 24 row John Deere planter is equipped with Delta Force down pressure units, vDrive row units and vSet meters. A Precision Planting 20/20 monitor controls seed population and row shutoffs.
Points of Pain: Data Analysis and Uptime Availability
To help customers build their precision farming system, Lowery says Bottom Line Solutions has the capability to benchmark customers’ results with its larger universe of customers. That big data helps show them where they can make changes for a better bottom line, he says.
“We are finding that managing the data produced by precision systems is one of the biggest challenges our customers have,” Lowery says. “We also find that being available by phone around the clock during busy seasons greatly improves customer satisfaction.
Lowery says factory training has helped him better serve customers. “Ag Leader’s and Precision Planting’s training sessions are helpful, as are the online classes we have to pass to be certified to sell and service their products. A few other companies we sell for also host training sessions.
“Most problems can be handled over the phone, but we also have an old ambulance that’s outfitted as a complete portable shop with a good inventory of tools and replacement parts. We can even make hydraulic hose in the field with this rig. When farmers are in the field, that level of support is very welcome.”