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Agriculture Technology Podcast Ep. 163: Preseason Planning

18 Mar 2022

In this episode, host Tony Kramer takes listeners through spring season pre-planting tips, to help make sure that you are ready to roll when the soil is fit to go.


You can find past podcast episodes by visiting our Podcast website

Have precision ag questions? We have the answers. Find a specific channel dedicated to answering your precision technology questions: Precision Ag Answers. 


View the entire transcript here:

Tony Kramer: A while back, actually just a couple episodes back, I had talked about some end-of-the-season tips or tricks or some to-dos, if you will. One of those was cleaning off the display. Once you have all of the data that you wanted from fall harvest, we had talked about just wiping out those displays. Now, if you did not do that in the fall season, there's opportunity to do it now. The reason, again, piggybacking off of the end of the season to-do list, the reason we want to do that or make sure our displays are clean is you'll see, as we go through with these preseason setup type tips, is we want to make sure all that bad data is off.

If we're dealing with bad guidance lines, funky boundaries, field names that are wrong that we want to change here prior to another growing season starting. What we want to do is just clean off those displays, whether we're utilizing 2600s, 2630s. Now, you can completely wipe out a Gen 4 4600 or 4640. There's a little more to it. You've actually got to go through a complete factory reset of the display and it'll wipe everything out.

With those displays, with the Gen 4 family of displays, it's not as important. Because what we're doing, we're not overwriting those displays like we did with the 2600s and 2630s. It's a little bit different but you still can do it. Once those displays are wiped off clean, we're not dealing with any bad information, garbage data, anything like that, we can get into the planning for this season.

Diving into, of course, I'm going to talk about the John Deere Operations Center for the most of this. No matter what farm information system you use, FMIS, all of these tips and tricks are going to be useful. Whether you're using an SMS, or you're using a different system out there. I know there's lots of them, FieldView guys, everything like that. Just take all of this into account.

Now, of course, the steps or processes for those other platforms might be a little different, but in general, it's all going to be the same thing. Specifically speaking to the John Deere Operations Center and the John Deere process of steps, the first thing we want to do is clean up our fields. Now, that might be you were renting a field last year, and now you're not this year. Maybe you're in a land share crop rotation with a different farm or something like that.

There's a lot of things we can do to keep that data clean so we can archive fields. Maybe we're not going to be utilizing those fields this year. We can archive them. Maybe we picked up ground and we need to add fields. This is the time to be doing that. You can also, if you added a field in season and you just punched whatever name into the display, you can make those changes now in the Operations Center. You can go in, you can change the client farm field, whatever you want to name it. That way it will be clean or you'll know what it is moving forward.

Once we've cleaned up the fields, we've added anything we want to do, we've taken away anything we don't want, the next thing we want to do is we want to clean up our boundaries. Now, I know boundaries are a touchy subject for some people. Some people love them. Some people do not like them at all for various reasons, but there are definite benefits to utilizing good, clean boundaries.

One of them is just the proper application. Whether we're planting, we're seeding, things like that, we're not going to be planting the neighbor's field. We're not going to be over-spraying the neighbor's field. Anything like that. Boundaries are beneficial. Now, one of the pushbacks or the arguments I always get is, well, that's fine, but if my boundaries aren't accurate, my planter is going to turn off with section control or my sprayer is going to turn off.

Now, there's two ways to fix that. One of them is the easy workaround of, as you border your field, turn off section control. Once that outside passes done, turn section control on, and you're good to go. Now, again, there you're not going to be benefiting from those agronomic, let's call them, implications. There's a lot of benefits to having that section control on. Again, you're not going to be over-spraying the neighbor's land or crop. You're not going to be planting onto the neighbor's land.

Now, the best thing to do is getting good, accurate boundaries. Now, I fully understand not everybody is on RTK level accuracy, but the absolute best boundaries that we can have are RTK correction, driven boundaries. That's taking a UTV pickup, a tractor, whatever it may be, and going out and driving those boundaries with your RTK correction. Now, SF2, SF3, those are also going to be accurate, but always remember that RTK driven boundaries are going to be the most accurate boundaries that you can get.

That's really the best way to combat the boundary issues is to get the best, most accurate boundaries you can get. Now, yes, you can create boundaries off of previous field operations. You can create boundaries just by hand drawing them in the Operations Center, those work. They are not going to be the most accurate. It'll give you a rough idea or general area, but they're not going to be super accurate.

One of the other really neat features with accurate boundaries John Deere just came out with is, on the Operations Center Mobile app, moving forward, we're actually going to have estimated time of completion. Of course, that is being calculated off of, if you have a planter in the field, a combine whether it's a hired hand, or it's your brother or your dad, or whoever it is, you're going to be able to go in and, based off of their efficiency in the field, their productivity, and the number of acres they have left, you will actually get to see an estimated time of completion.

When we start talking about planning and efficiency of the operation and just having everything inline set up to go you can see, okay, he's moving to the next field at this time. He's going to need the water truck for the sprayer, the spray tender, he's going to need the seed tender, whatever it may be. Maybe we need fuel in between these fields. It'll give you a general idea.

Like we pull up our Google Maps, our Apple Maps, whatever we're using for navigation, it gives us the estimated time of arrival, you're going to now see in the Operations Center Mobile app, estimated time of completion. Really throwing another tool at us to really keep the farm as efficient as possible. Boundaries are a big thing. The last thing I want to touch on with boundaries is boundaries are going to be very important moving forward. The reason I say that is because, back in January, we talked about in the last episode, John Deere introduced the autonomous tillage solution.

That is all based off of boundaries. We need to have boundaries, moving forward. Even if you're going to use something like AutoTrac Turn Automation, that step-down, the semi-autonomous solution, you're sitting in the seat, but the tractor does everything it needs to do just with your acknowledgment, that also is based off of boundaries. Properly utilizing things like section control, individual row control with ExactEmerge planters or individual nozzle control with ExactApply sprayers. Having good clean boundaries helps those systems operate. In fact, with the autonomous stuff, you need those boundaries.

The next thing is guidance lines. Right now, great time to go in, clean up your guidance lines. You can also create guidance lines in the Operations Center. If you just want to be farming at a zero-degree heading, or you want your tillage passes to be at a 5-degree heading or whatever it may be, you can preplan and create those ahead of time versus getting lined up in the field and punching everything in. You would just go in and you'd select that line. Guidance lines.

Then the last one is flags. Lot of benefits to utilizing flags, whether it's a point flag, an area flag, there's a lot of different things you can do with those flags. Right now is a great time to clean them up. Maybe you had marked a rock last season. You went out and picked that up, but you never took or deleted the flag. I guess you wouldn't have to pull the flag from the field, but deleting the flag in the Operations Center. You can also do that right on the app.

If you are out in the field, you grab that rock, you can delete that flag right in the Operations Center Mobile app as well. That's the start of it, making sure all of that stuff is cleaned up, organized, named properly, everything like that.

Now, the next thing we want to do that to save us a ton of time in the field and, yes, it takes a little bit of time in the office prior to the season, but adding in your products. Making sure we have all of our hybrids and varieties of whatever seed we're going to use, our chemicals, our fertilizers, adding all of that stuff into the Operations Center, and then putting it in our setup files or our work plans. It's going to save us a lot of time in the field.

Now, I fully understand that sometimes your varieties or hybrids change, what chemistry your crop consultant says to utilize sometimes changes. If you have the bulk of what seed you're going to use, what chemistry, what fertilizer you're going to use, all of that can be pre-entered into the Operations Center so you're not having to hunt and peck on the display as you're sitting in the field.

Again, we're talking about efficiency here, keeping that tractor moving once it's in the field. Very easy to go through. All this stuff or a lot of this stuff that I'm talking about in the Operations Center is under that setup tab. Land is where you were going to do all of the field management, the field boundaries, the guidance track, the flags. Down in products is where we were talking about the getting your hybrids, your varieties, your chemistry, your fertilizer, and even tank mixes for sprayers.

You can add in specific tank mixes if you know what those are ahead of time. Those are some of the things that can save us time in the field. Now, other things that can save us time just in the setup and the getting information in and out is making sure our terminals list is cleaned up. Those machines that are JDLink connected with a 4G terminal, or now we're referring to them as modems, JDLink modems, making sure that those things are 4G.

You have your JDLink connection accepted, turned on, and making sure that list is good. If you have a tractor that you traded in, or you sold, or maybe you bought a tractor and it's not in your list, work with your local John Deere dealership, get those terminals moved where they need to be, get rid of the machines you don't have anymore, make sure the ones that you purchased are in your terminals list.

That's going to help us with data flow, machine information. We talk about any of the estimated time of completion, things like that. Now, I should preface, the estimated time of completion, I do believe that is based off of Gen 4 data because with the 2630 or GS3 data, none of that data flows in via wireless data transfer until that field is complete. Lot of that stuff is focused on the Gen 4 family of displays.

There are still benefits to having JDLink connected machines even if you're utilizing GS3 displays with wireless data transfers. We can get that machine information, the machine data, wireless data transfer for our files in and out, things like that.

The next thing, again, helps us just with efficiency of planning is teams. Making sure your team, your operation is set up, whether that be trusted advisors or partners, maybe it's your agronomist or your seed salesman or your-- whoever it may be, maybe it's just staff members on the farm that you want to make sure that they have access to field locations or machine location, things like that, making sure that they are added in as team members.

Now, I know the old way was, "Hey, I'll just give you my username and password." We don't want to do that anymore. There are a lot of different levels of access that you can give when it comes to the John Deere Operations Center. Making sure that that operator or that crop consultant or agronomist, or, whoever it may be, they go out and create their own John Deere Operations Center account, and then you add them as a partner or a staff member, or even just an operator.

Now, adding operators, you do not need an Operations Center account, that is purely just for in-display use when you can select which operator is being used. Making sure our teams are set up.

Then the last one that's a add-on is connections. What the connections are is that is any third-party software. Maybe it's we had an episode a while back, maybe it's harvest profit. You want to work with harvest profit or some of the other ones. There's some scouting apps out there, there's some land or water management apps out there, all of these different connections. Now, those third-party connections, you go through them with their platform, their subscriptions or fees, whatever it may be, but they have connections with the John Deere Operations Center.

Any data that comes into the Operations Center, these third-party connections, or maybe you've heard them referred to as APIs, they are either pulling or pushing or both, data that flows. One of the very common ones is FieldView. Utilizing the John Deere Operations Center to collect all of your data, store all of your data, but maybe you're working with FieldView from a seed perspective, so you need some of that data into FieldView.

You can utilize the third-party connection with FieldView and any data that flows into the Operations Center. You can pick and choose what data flows into FieldView. Lot of benefits to those connections. Go in, look at what the options are, and utilize the ones that make sense to your operation. Now, the last couple things I want to touch on-- We've gone through, we've cleaned everything up, we've added what we needed to add. All of this is comes to completion when we talk about either work planner or setup files.

Actually, I should pause before that, I got this listed wrong in my notes. Prescriptions. If you're going to create prescriptions, right now is the time. Whether you're getting those prescriptions from a third party, it's your agronomist, crop consultant, seed salesman, whoever it may be, or you are creating them yourself. Now, John Deere has the ability, or gives you the ability to utilize the Agrian Prescription Creator.

The Agrian Prescription Creator is under that plan tab in the Operations Center, and it gives you the ability to create prescriptions, whether that be a seeding prescription, application prescription, or even a tillage prescription. If you're set up with TruSet Tillage on some of your tillage tools, you do have the ability to create a tillage prescription.

Going through, creating those prescriptions, making sure they're in and ready to go. Once that is done, now we can move on to either work planner or creating a setup file. I'm going to start with work planner because it's new. There's some people that have been dabbling in it. I'm not going to go too in-depth with it. If you want to learn more about it, you can go back to Episode 140.

About a year ago, we talked about work planner and what you can do with it. I know there's also a number of YouTube videos out there. I believe, we also, on the Precision Ag Answers YouTube channel, we have some walkthroughs on how work planner looks, what you can do with it, and things like that. What work planner is, is basically a work order creator. You are creating planned work based on the field, not a blanket like  setup files are. Work planner is field by field basis. You can enter in your varieties. You can enter in your seating rate, you can enter in your guidance lines, the guidance tracks that you're going to be utilizing and all of that data will automatically flow into Gen 4 displays.

Now, you have to have that JDLink connection, you have to have a Gen 4 display, whether that'd be a 4640 Universal Display, or you have a 4600 CommandARM on the machine with a Version 2 server, all of that will flow in automatically. Now, the cool part is, again, go back and listen to Episode 140, it'll go more in-depth. Watch the YouTube videos. When the operator pulls into that field, it will notice that there is planned work for that field and it will enter in all of that information with just a couple clicks of the screen versus going through and entering in every little piece of it, it will automatically fill that in.

Awesome tool, super saver when it comes to time, very efficient, very effective. If you are running Gen 4 on your farm, I highly recommend you try utilizing this. If you just want to try it with a couple of fields, do that. Otherwise, dive in headfirst and just start running with the work planner. It's definitely going to be a very beneficial tool when it comes to efficiency.

Those that either don't have 4G terminals connected machines, we don't have Gen 4 displays, we're still going to use the traditional setup file creator. As always, you'll go in, you'll select your client farm fields. You'll select your products, your machines. You'll select all of that stuff. This is when we want to select our prescriptions if we have them built and in the Operations Center, all of that stuff. Get that stuff into your display.

Some questions I get is, "Well, if I don't delete my display, all of that information is already in there." I understand that what this does is it cleans it up. Any of those variety or hybrids were not utilizing their old technology, or we're not going to use them this year. Again, the fields, you're not using fields, it just keeps your display clean so that we are dealing with clean data in and out no matter what we're doing.

Utilizing set up files or work planner is going to clean up a lot of that mess, a lot of the backend reworking things and figuring out how it goes. That is what I got. This episode ended up being way longer than I expected. I just wanted to go through some of these pre-season planning tips to make sure you guys are ready to roll when the soil is fit.

Now, I know that some of you have already started planting. Some of you may even be done planting. Here, where we are, up Minnesota and the Dakotas, we still got some snow, so we're a few weeks out yet, maybe even a month out yet, so we got time. I wanted to get this episode out there. Hopefully, those of you that are already planting, hopefully, you've done a lot of these things or all of these things. If not, utilize this tip list for next year, always making sure that we're planning ahead of time, utilizing the Operations Center to make our operations more efficient.

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