Imagine a world where farmers can manage every single seed placed into the ground; they can track moisture, growth, and nutrients in and around the plant to decide how much fertilizer to use, when the fertilizer works best and when it does not work as well, and where to place the fertilizer. Because they have specific data on each section of a field, they can attack the areas in need of more water or more fertilizer, making more strategic decisions that will increase production and efficiency and save the farmer money. In other words, imagine a world where people can be plant whisperers.
While it sounds like something only possible in sci-fi movies, the precision ag industry is making it possible for farmers. Simply defined, precision agriculture is using technology to benefit the farm economically. Farmers used to decide how much fertilizer they would need and would apply that amount to the entire field. Now, through the use of GPS and other technology, they are making decisions every 30’ by 30’ square in the field.
How does one operate and analyze the data generated by the technology? That’s where Greg Austin comes in. Greg Austin became an Ag Applicator Technician and started working at the Dorchester Co-op, running sprayers, floaters, and doing a lot of everything. In the late 1990s precision agriculture started to become more prominent. In 1998, Greg got exposed to Ag Leader – a company that invented the yield monitor. For those city slickers out there, here is how a yield monitor operates: As a combine drives across a field, every second the yield monitor records the moisture, weight, temperature, and its location – over and over again, joining all of the points together to create a map of the field. In essence, the yield monitor offers a report card to the farmer.
Precision Agriculture joined two of Austin’s passions: farming and computers. Austin helped the precision ag program grow at the Dorchester Co-op, and was the first in the state to use Variable rate fertilizer on the go. He left to work for Nebraska Machinery Caterpillar, and then decided to break away and start his own business.
In 2013 he started FullField Ag in his basement. Through the assistance and support of the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership, FullField Ag made the jump and purchased a bigger property that allowed for the company to grow.
“For years, I had been selling equipment that could make the farmer money, but they didn’t know how to use it. So FullField Ag bridges that gap. We have agronomists on staff; we have equipment people on staff. We can sell you the equipment; we can work on the equipment; and we can tell you agronomically why,” Austin says.
Austin and his team are able to take the data produced by the yield monitors and help the farmer strategize. If a farmer wants to maximize efficiency for the next year, FullField Ag offers recommendations based on the data they have and their knowledge of plants. If a farmer wants to increase production, FullField Ag offers a plan. Because they do not sell fertilizer or seed, they can offer an unbiased opinion. The goal for FullField Ag is to help the farmer make more money. The technology and formulating a plan allows them to do that.
Austin is not afraid of the technology, and he doesn’t want farmers to be either. The showroom in their office on 1503 317th Road in Seward, NE is full of visuals and models, because Austin wants to educate customers. FullField Ag wants to show farmers that there are smarter ways to farm. Austin’s favorite part of his job is when a farmer gets what the technology is doing.
“I love when you know you have made an impact. It’s even cooler when an employee here has an AHA moment with a customer. That’s my favorite thing,” said Austin.
One thing is for sure, when the next new technology that once seemed like science fiction comes out, FullField Ag will be there to explain and sell the product to farmers in need.
For more information on what FullField Ag does, please visit their website.
Phone Number: (402) 643-4785