Technology on the farm – The Leonard family

Another busy week here in northeast Oklahoma.  I have finished my corn planting and all but one of my custom planting jobs. We are only 90 acres from being done there but it showered again last night so waiting for it to dry up again.  I have planted 1400 acres of corn for me and my customers since starting almost a month ago.  The first planting had to be done over after the rain so more fuel, time, and seed had to be invested to get the same results at harvest, or we hope so.  The kids were busy with more crops judging contests for FFA this week, winning second place team and in the top five at most contests.  I’m proud of them and the work they are putting into the contests with a goal of repeating as state champions at the state contest like Afton did last year. Kody hopes to repeat his high individual win again at state contest like he did in 2011.  Time will tell if their hard work pays off.  Mary has been very busy with visiting and helping her mom, who is still in the hospital in Tulsa.  It looks like we will get to see her come back to Vinita next week.

This week as I was planting, I set back and was amazed at the technology that we now use in our machinery.  I hope some of the pictures help you see what I’m talking about.  My tractor drives itself and will put me back within 1 inch of the same place any time I return to that field with the RTK and auto steer system.  All I have to do is get it to the field, load the stored pattern I want it to follow, and then turn it around on the end rows and hit the button.  It drives itself in a straight line or a curved pattern back to the other end of the field.  My grandfathers both would have been so amazed to see that work, and my son Kody thinks the tractor is broke down and can’t run if the system fails and you have to actually drive the tractor!!  What a difference in generations.

Driving is not the only thing the computer controls.  It turns the planter on and off, row by row as we cross over any area of the field that has already been planted, thus saving me lots of seed and dollars, which can add up very fast when corn seed costs $300/bag nowadays.  I can also monitor every row of the planter telling me how many seeds per acre it is dropping and the spacing between seeds, and then I can use that information and change the rate at which the planter is planting – all from inside the cab.  All this information is being recorded along with what variety I’m planting, the date, the speed, and any other information I want to put in for future reference either back on my computer in the office or later in the combine when we are harvesting the crop and laying our yield maps over our variety maps as we harvest the grain.  I have seen a lot since I started farming with no cab tractors to today, and it just makes me wonder what Kody will get to see if he decides to make farming his occupation.

We’ll see you all next week and hope we can show pictures of rows of nice green corn and Katy showing her heifer in the first stock show of our year.

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