Focus On Blending

Kahler Automation, blending controls, employee

The renewed interest in corn this season will require more fertilizer inputs, and that will translate into a renewed interest in fertilizer automation.

“For so long the attention was on ag chemicals, and fertilizer was not as big a concern,” says Dave Junge of Junge Control, Inc. “Now with corn needing so many fertilizer inputs, growers appear to be increasing their yield goals per acre rather than the previous desire to increase acres. This trend will probably increase as land costs rise drastically.”

Junge, who farms 700 acres part-time, will practice what he preaches. “My goal will be to raise my yield expectation of 200 bushels per acre to 250 bushels or higher,” he says. “With commodity prices increasing so greatly, the old rules of nutrients will need to be re-evaluated as the previous economic yield held input costs down. Growers can now afford to push inputs higher.”

Increasing Expertise

Handling more fertilizer will require a higher level of software expertise at both megaplants and smaller facilities, and manufacturers are working to meet those needs. “The fertilizer plant has to be precise; that’s what the dealer wants from us,” says Steve Swift of Kahler Automation Corp., which provides controls for both liquid and dry operations.

The popularity of unattended fertilizer terminals continues to grow, and Swift anticipates that they will become larger with the move to ethanol. Kahler services unstaffed and multiple-outlet systems with its Web-based Terminal Manager program. Authorized users can use their Web browser to modify orders, view accounting history, and complete other operations, depending on the authorization level.

Flexible, Fast, Accurate

The complexity of having several outlets or several dealerships sharing one facility also is eased with Kahler’s Plant Supervisor blending software. Paired with programs from accounting/agronomic software manufacturers, the Plant Supervisor receives liquid or dry orders electronically, fills the blend prescription, and sends actual usage figures back to the agronomy software company for billing.

“It can handle different packaging requests at the same site, which builds efficiencies,” says Swift.

While Junge Control’s unattended load-out systems and software have been popular in the past year, the company also is selling these systems for plants attended by retailer personnel. “Quite often an agronomist will key in a blend weeks, days, or hours before customer pickup, and the plant people simply choose the customer and blend they are getting,” Junge says.

Servicing those with complex orders is one of the goals of E-Markets, Inc. A retail operation management system provider, the company’s systems cover operations from the time an order is made right up to invoicing.

Sometimes orders need to be split into multiple deliveries, and E-Markets’ CINCH AgriSuite Version 6.0 — with its newly added ability to handle multiple settings and multiple Ranco blenders — will time and schedule each. It then tracks the day’s deliveries on a handheld system.

“This makes it easy and accurate for the applicator to make changes on the fly,” says E-Markets’ Scott Cavey. “For example, he gets to the field and there’s a wind shift, so he can only do 30 acres instead of 80. Without the handheld unit, he would have to call into the plant, adding time and possible errors if the accounting department can’t read his writing later. The handheld unit docks it up and invoices are created.”

Application drivers aren’t the only ones wanting flexibility. Junge Control sales personnel have noticed a new trend: Prepaid fertilizer orders may be increased last-minute by growers this spring, and retailers want the blend formulations in the hands of the agronomist or plant personnel — not the accounting system.

Enhanced Monitoring

Retailers also want the ability to efficiently monitor inventory and secondary containment, and Murray Equipment, Inc. offers both.

“Many of our customers are looking into new ways to manage their product at multiple branches using the latest hardware and software,” says Murray’s Karl Hans. “The latest advances in communication products has given us the ability to connect the real-world applications using wireless technologies and Internet connectivity. This includes information monitoring such as tank levels, meter totals, and dike overfill conditions.

“Most information can now be e-mailed, text messaged, and paged directly from the equipment to the manager to give immediate feedback of locations,” Hans says. “This gives the manager the option to order product according to trends and usage, or to send personnel out to a sight with a tank leak, overfilling dike, or other remote site problems.”

New Developments For The Marketplace

There are still concerns about unreliable Internet availability in some rural areas.

“With the immediate need for loads to be delivered, a system designed improperly could cause downtime in our most critical delivery season,” says Junge. “So presently we are using the Web as a batch transfer, not a live access to database. We will continue to see this improve as more options become available and affordable in those rural areas.”

Junge Control hopes to have remote tank level monitoring, remote unattended load out ticket transfer, common data base solutions, and other Web solutions available or improved for the 2007 season.

The adoption of handheld technology also is a big issue going forward, says E-Markets’ Cavey. “Currently, the handheld units are built to be rugged, but they’re big and clunky, too,” he says. “In the future, they’ll be more sleek, more convenient, will include bar code readers, and could even be as small as a palm-sized unit.”

Leave a Reply

Software Stories

EquipmentDTN Launches Ag Retailer Focused Data Management Program
April 5, 2016
As farm data multiplies exponentially, ag retailers need help leveraging the power of big data to better serve their customers Read More
Junge Control Panels
SoftwarePlant Automation Takes Traceability To The Next Level
March 8, 2016
What began as a way to simply vary differing fertility products at different rates to create custom fertilizer blends — Read More
Tiger Sul Crop Nutrient Calculator
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launches New Nutrient Calculator App
November 12, 2015
H.J. Baker, a global agriculture firm, has launched a new agronomic nutrient calculator app. This innovative and powerful tool will Read More
Precision AgXS Inc. Expanding Ag Retail Reach With AgVeritas
November 5, 2015
AgVeritas, the patented cloud-based yield analysis application launched by XS Inc for the 2015 season, is making a significant impact Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More
ManagementMerger Mania
September 16, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss this week’s mega-ag mergers of Bayer and Monsanto and Potash and Agrium. Read More