This time of year, most farmers could use an extra set of hands to ensure field operations are completed in the finite window opened by Mother Nature. Stillman Valley, Ill., strip-tiller Cade Bushnell is no different.
Although Bushnell prefers to build strips in fall, a delayed 2013 harvest, followed by a brutal winter, left him little choice but to pull his 8-row and 12-row Dawn Pluribus strip-till unit through several hundred acres of continuous corn ground this spring.
The job will likely be easier, however, due to the benefits of precision technology. The John Deere AutoTrac steering system on his planter and tractors allow Bushnell to get more done in a day, and RTK guidance through his StarFire 3000 receiver ensures accurate strips and seed placement when planting.
But one of the biggest benefits is the ability for Bushnell to attract and retain seasonal help. Although he only farms about 1,200 acres, Bushnell says his success depends on capable operators.
“We’re in constant competition when it comes to hiring people,” he says. “And I get a lot of younger kids who don’t have much experience running equipment, or people who don’t necessarily need the work.”
Bushnell’s stable of seasonal employees includes two part-time firefighters and a retired Illinois state trooper. Rather than having to extensively train hired help on the art of building strips or planting a cash or cover crop, Bushnell relies on precision guidance to keep operators on track.
Though he hasn’t attached a dollar amount to this benefit of having novice operators behind the wheel, Bushnell says such technology keeps equipment running in the field when it needs to be, and keeps employees happy.
“If I’m chewing someone out because they left a 3-foot-wide run in my cover crops, they’re not going to do it again,” he says. “That’s been the real success of having auto-steer and guidance because I can hire some kid to come out and drill cover crops in the evening. Being able to hire young or inexperienced operator makes my system much more efficient, and they aren’t afraid of the technology at all.”
Most strip-tillers swear by the value that precision guidance brings to their field operations, but how many of them are leveraging this technology to recruit seasonal help?
Share with us how you are getting operators up to speed on precision technology in your strip-till operation. Call me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.