Every year for the past few winters, Precision Planting, LLC, Tremont, IL, has invited growers, equipment dealers, and other product users from around the country and the world to take part in an information-laden event at this company headquarters. This year’s event, which attracted more than 700 attendees, offered more of the same.
“This happens every year for us, and we welcome you to our event,” said Brad Arnold, General Manager, kicking off the meeting. “As always, we have a lot of exciting things to talk about.”
Included in this information-sharing day were details on a pair of new products for the grower market, the SeederForce automated downforce control system for the air-seed market and mSet, a meter that allows growers to plant two different hybrids in the same field using a single meter with a dual compartment hopper and seed selector.
More in the precision agriculture sector, Precision Planting announced the release of its 20/20 monitor. An update to the company’s earlier unit, the 20/20 provides an advanced agronomic picture, allowing users to optimize planting, harvest, and application decisions with a smart interface that visualizes performance and field conditions in real time. According to Arnold, the 20/20 monitor powers the most agronomic-advanced systems on the market that control population, down force, liquid application, multi-hybrid planting, and higher-speed planting, all while sensing the furrow. It also helps collect the most spatially accurate yield data available and provides information for setting the planter to maximize ear count. This allows users to not only have the accurate data to make those crucial decisions, but also gives them the equipment and powerful automation to make decisions during each pass through the field.
Precision Technology Institute to Debut
For several years now, Precision Planting has had a mobile trailer serving as its Precision Technology Institute (PTI), to train and educate users on all aspects of high-tech farming methods. But at the 2018 winter meeting, the company announced the opening of a new Precision Technology Institute (PTI) permanently located in Pontiac, IL. According to Arnold, this was previously a 200-acre farm. It will now serve as an agronomic research site, as well as a location where customers can experience Precision Planting technologies and products in a real farm environment.
“As Precision Planting continues to look for opportunities to improve the way we plant, we are actively investing in progress and development for the future. Today we launched new technologies that address real problems and is another step toward helping farmers become smarter every season,” said Arnold. “The establishment of the PTI in Pontiac will enhance our research efforts and help us demonstrate how precision agriculture can enable farmers to increase yields and ROI by ensuring the seeds they plant maintain their top-end yield potential at emergence, while keeping input costs to a minimum.”
According to Jason Webster, Commercial Agronomist and Director of the new PTI, the location will be an educational site that brings agronomy, new technology, and equipment to the forefront for customers.
“We are excited about Precision Planting dealers being able to bring their customers to this farm so that we can share our agronomic research results with them and teach them about problems they may not have even thought about before,” Webster said. “Once we have helped them identify these problems, we can work with them to develop a solution. They will be able to demo our equipment and make their own determinations of whether or not the products fit for their operations. The efforts here will help farmers make sound decisions about what they might need on their farm.”
The PTI is centrally located on I-55 in Pontiac, just 80 miles south of Chicago, 30 miles north of Bloomington, and 70 miles from the Champaign/Urbana area. There is a new Hampton Hotel located near the center of the farm, where lodgers can step out the front door and onto the PTI farm, said Webster. Research work done on the farm will be fed into the mobile PTI semi-truck unit, which will continue to deliver agronomic education both on the permanent PTI site and at events across the farm belt.
Another key component of the new PTI, said Webster, is what he calls its “sandbox” feature. Crops will be planted in the spring, with a section of the PTI left unplanted to serve as a test drive area, where customers can take Precision Planting products and technologies for a spin. The company will have the ability to recreate planting time all season long in the sandbox area, said Webster. “For example, farmers will be able to drive a tractor hooked to a high-speed planter and experience what it’s like to plant at 12 mph versus their normal, slower speed,” he said.