I've been attending my fair share of farm meetings this winter - already - and the fun part of that is spending time with producers talking about key challenges and opportunities they're facing in their businesses. There's a sense of angst out there this winter as more of you deploy new farm technologies beyond auto steering.
The challenge is that farmers who are already excellent agronomists in their own right are suddenly being called on to become farm technology experts as well. This is no easy task because the systems you're using today may challenge you in new ways.
The angst I'm hearing from farmers is that farm technology systems they've invested in don't talk with each other well. Sure a combine yield monitor might make a great yield map - which is a valuable tool - but taking that yield data to create a variable rate planting map for the following spring is no walk in the park. That's especially true if the combine system is from one company and the planter controls are built by another.
This issue is hitting a kind of tipping point in the country, and the answers will lie with dealer support from the suppliers of the technology. Case IH already has instituted a 24-hour hotline you can call to get answers to key questions. Other suppliers also have their own systems for the same kind of support.
This is not a go-it-alone issue. If you've never used a consultant, maximizing your tech investment may call for that very approach. Maximizing the tech in which you've invested will actually cover the "cost" of the consultation help because you will be able to maximize inputs with this technology. Creating the links between the software and hardware investment will pay dividends.
As you look toward future investments, however, make sure you're asking the compatibility questions. Will the data from box A export cleanly to your computer? Can the information in box B convert for use by box A or box C elsewhere in the operation? Asking those questions of suppliers up front, and having them show you those tools in action will also be time well invested. Accountability on technology from suppliers should become your guide when buying tech for the future.