Farmers put technology to work
TOWN OF SUGAR CREEK -- A newly planted field might not look much different today than it did 20 years ago, but these days, the methods used to do that planting definitely plow into high-tech territory.
“It's a lot more management than the physical labor,” Rock County farmer Doug Rebout said. “Most people still have in their mind that the farmer is the guy out in the field with the bib overalls with a pitchfork. That's not farming anymore.”
So this spring, software is getting to be just as important as soil and seeds as farmers prepare their 2014 crops.
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Terry Papcke, Walworth County Farm Bureau board president, said technology is becoming more essential for today's farmers.
Papcke operates a farm on 1,500 acres of land northwest of Elkhorn, along with his brother, Randy, and two of his nephews. Papcke grows about 1,000 acres of corn, 350 acres of soybeans, 50 acres of wheat and 150 acres of hay, as well as raises about 130 cows on the farm.
With so much to manage, Papcke and company are happy to have the help of a tractor GPS system that tells them where they have planted. A monitor inside one of the tractors also displays how many seeds have been planted and which rows have been planted.
The system also includes a disc card, which Papcke can remove and place in a computer to develop a map of the areas that have been planted.
Having such information helps save on fuel and fertilizer, Papcke said.
“We farm about 1,500 acres, so we spread the cost over a number of acres, and there's not a lot of upkeep,” he said. “It runs the way it's supposed to.”
Technology also has helped produce better yields during the past few years, Papcke said.
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Read more about the state of agriculture in Walworth County:
Tuesday: Ethanol influences local ag market