Advanced planting technologies can reduce labor, seed and other input costs, and increase profits, says Brent Myers, a University of Missouri Extension cereal crops specialist. These technologies include automatic section control (ASC), as-planted maps, variable-rate seeding, precision seed metering, auto steering, yield monitoring and on-farm research, Myers said, during the recent Crop Injury Diagnostic Clinic sponsored by MU Extension and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

A farm implement equipped with ASC knows where to plant and can sense where it has already planted, reducing skipped areas and overlap of planted areas. It can shut itself off when finished.

“There are good economic reasons to do this,” Myers said, citing savings in seed costs and harvest time.

There are costs associated with ASC, he said. A spreadsheet tool from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville lets producers compare lost revenue from reduced yield on overlaps to additional costs for seed, treatments and equipment. The Automatic Section Control for Planters Cost Calculator is available for download.

Assuming that producers already have some system components, such as a field computer and GPS from a yield monitoring system, additional ASC component costs include compatible planters, software activation, planter controllers and row clutches. Based on a 12-row system, costs run $8,100-13,000.

 

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Myers demonstrated the use of the UT software on a 1,000-acre farm planted equally in soybeans and corn to examine the years of repayment needed to recover costs of ASC. He concluded that it would take less than one year to recoup costs in a 1,000-acre farm with high overlap severity, and 2.6 years for medium overlap severity. A farm with a 25-50-25 mix of fields with low, medium and high overlap severity – a good estimate for many Missouri farms – would take about three years to pay for ASC. It would take 10.4 years to recoup costs in farms with low overlap severity, and probably would not be financially beneficial, Myers said.