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It takes “devotion to do precision ag” at Jeremy Hopper’s level, says Jason Hamlin, North Delta Crop Consulting, Dyersburg, Tenn. If a piece of precision equipment goes on the fritz mid-harvest, for example, or a prescription file is bad, “you have to be willing to stop and fix it. It’s one thing talking about this and another thing implementing it. A lot of people try it and quit.”
What’s next for this “numbers” guy? “The easy stuff, we’ve done now,” Hopper says. “Where we go from here is a question. The next steps — variable-rate population, hybrid changes within fields — these will take a lot more time and energy.”
Jeremy Hopper, Tiptonville, Tenn., uses precision data to make many agronomic and management decisions.
Growing crops is always a gamble. That’s why Jeremy Hopper runs the numbers. Hopper manages several thousand acres of row cropland near Tiptonville, Tenn. Precision data guides his agronomic decisions and helps him hone his operation. By running the numbers, he has:
- Predicted where land leveling would pay;
- Defined field areas that were unprofitable to crop;
- Saved money on lime applications;
- Selected the most profitable hybrids and row spacings.
He also uses data-management tools to track:
- Each bushel of grain from field to storage bin to market;
- Seeds and chemicals from warehouse to on-farm storage to field;
- Revenues and direct costs per bushel by field.
The Hoppers “are really aggressive on their records,” says their agronomist, Jason Hamlin, North Delta Crop Consulting, Dyersburg, Tenn. “Everything is integrated. That’s not easy to do.”
It’s especially demanding to integrate financial data and precision field data, says Jeremy Wilson, technology specialist for Crop IMS, Effingham, Ill. “Not nearly enough people track costs by field,” he says, so they “don’t understand their cost of production the way they should.” Precision ag is not only about adding yield, Hamlin adds. “Just because you made more bushels doesn’t mean you made more money.”