Change is seldom a simple process, especially when skepticism and indecision come into play. It takes confidence and a little encouragement to try something new — a combination I’ve learned to emphasize whenever my youngster is faced with an unfamiliar challenge.
For strip-tillers, hesitation can arise when deciding how aggressively they want to expand and evolve their operation. Precision-farming technology is an increasingly critical component of strip-till, but pulling the trigger on a pricey purchase can be difficult.
As one strip-tiller told me awhile back, “For every five farmers who say some piece of technology works, all it takes is one coffee-shop naysayer who barks the loudest, and bites the least, to plant that seed of doubt.”
During a trip through southeastern Minnesota this spring, I had an opportunity to visit with several strip-tillers, including Nate Bonde, who farms with his family and is a relative newcomer to the practice.
As you’ll read about in this issue’s feature story, the Bondes moved from ridge-till to strip-till and recently committed to advanced precision-farming techniques like implement guidance and grid sampling.
But this commitment didn’t happen overnight. The Bondes did their homework and also worked with their equipment dealer and the University of Minnesota Agricultural extension to test the technology.
“One of the biggest boosters the strip-till industry has received is technology,” says Brad Carlson, an Extension crops educator. “That said, you can hand all the technology you want to strip-tillers, but if they aren’t willing to learn the system and do the work, it all wasted time and money.”
It took time for the Bondes to get comfortable with the technology they now use in their strip-till system. This spring was their first using implement guidance on their 12-row toolbar with Dawn Pluribus row units to more accurately place fertilizer on sidehills in the spring ahead of planting.
This fall will be their second grid-sampling in 4-acre plots with Trimble’s handheld device with the long term objective of better management of fertilizer application.
“It takes time to put a plan together and you can just jump into this stuff and go,” Nate Bonde says. “The overall goal here is be prepared for the future and produce the best crop we can produce.”
What types of cutting-edge precision technology are you using to advance your strip-till operation? Contact me at 262-782-4480 ext. 441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.