Jeff Heepke knew he was part of the next wave of precision agriculture when his cellphone rang as he planted corn with his new 16-row planter last spring. “Do you know that row 15 is plugged?” asked the caller.

“At first I was a bit stunned,” says Heepke, who farms near Edwardsville, in southern Illinois. “Then I realized he had to be watching data streaming from my new planter monitor. I asked him if he had noticed that I already had stopped a couple of times to try to fix it.” Heepke, who was piloting Monsanto’s FieldScripts program, was sharing data in real time.

That’s one attribute of the new precision ag-based crop management services offered by Monsanto, as well as Pioneer through its Field360 program, and WinField through it R7 Tool. Although the services differ considerably in what they offer, they all intend to provide growers quick access to precision-ag data and decision aids.

Paul Twombly and Del Unger, farmers who’ve used the Pioneer and Winfield services, respectively, say that the improved connectivity and information access through the programs has helped improve their operations, sometimes in unexpected ways.