Working with John Sykes (Farm Manager for D&A Farms in Elkton, FL) to install an AgLeader Guidance systems on both his John Deere and Kubota tractors, a discussion came up about the advanced features that the new guidance system could do like Variable Rate Fertilizer, Spraying and Planting. During the various topics discussed, the one topic that launched us all into high gear, centered on the previous year’s planting of cabbage where John had lost trust in the planter and resulting in having to employ laborers to follow the planter just to confirm that it was planting. John had recently purchased a Monosem planter in hopes that those problems would go away but the MSM-1 monitor that came on the planter was NOT going to be able to do what was needed and the seed tubes / detectors could not see cabbage seeds which average around 2mm or .085” in size. “You have to be able to see the seed in order for the equipment to count it” said Scott Graddy (owner of Ag-Tastic Solutions) who had recently read a press release from Ag Express Electronics on the new Hy Rate Plus™ LED Seed Sensor that Dickey-john Corporation was releasing, that specifically addresses the Ultra-small seed problem. “We have to get these sensors, if we want to mark misses and doubles in a short order”.

Scott contacted John Slavens (Sales rep at Ag Express Electronics) about getting 4 sensors but was told that the release date was out beyond D&A’s planting schedule. Mr. Slavens used his influence to successfully procure some “1st run” seed sensors prior to their release. With only a few days before planting Mr. Slavens was able to deliver the Hy Rate Plus sensors and the new wiring harness to mate the Monosem NG+ 4 row planter to the AgLeader Seed module. Now we could play!

The initial calibrations did not seem promising because we could not consistently simulate groundspeeds when rolling the drive wheels in the shed. It was disheartening that we could not get any valid counts so a call to Ag Express was in order. A follow up call from Dickey-john Corp. eased our concerns. It turns out that these new sensors have intelligence built into them to differentiate between dust, debris and the actual seed. The Hy Rate Plus sensors “self-learn” what is a valid seed amongst the other things that might pass by like dust or seed debris. This “self-learning” can take up to 500 seeds so all we could do now was to head out to the field and to test. The initial runs were closely looked at, with a foot on the clutch mentality. Thank goodness for the GPS guidance because driving was last thing we were looking at! After a few passes, it was evident that we were not getting any “self-learning” dips or highs, so the captain called for full speed ahead. We were ejected out of the cab so John could take care of business. At the end of the day, it was confirmed that we had succeeded in Monitoring Seed Population with Spacing information on ultra-small seeds across individual rows of a multi row planter. That’s Success at its Best.

Farmers are aware of the high cost associated with Transplants. Being able to successfully plant seeds, turns that transplant expense into an immediate savings. The common failures on a vacuum planter are misses caused by debris being caught in the seed depression. John Sykes said it best, Doubles are a cost concern but a miss is the most costly because you cannot grow something if there is not a seed there. By having the capability to recognize a miss, in short order, allows the driver to address the problem quickly.  Ag-Tastic Solutions is at the forefront of addressing these types of problems by combining technologies that have the best ROI for the farmer. Constant research into new products and engaging with the farmers is key to turning a problem into a solution. That is why Ag-Tastic Solutions motto is “WE MAKE PRECISION AG A REALITY”

A special thanks to all those involved, Kyle Snodgrass (Southeast regional sales manager for AgLeader), John Slavens (Sales Rep for Ag Express Electronics) and of course John Sykes (Farm Manager for D&A farms) for providing us with the opportunity to put this solution together.

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