Ep. 52: Using Technology to Understand the Weakest Link in Your Operation with Austin Heil
Ep. 52: Using Technology to Understand the Weakest Link in Your Operation with Austin Heil
When he moved back to join the family farm, there wasn’t an ounce of technology being used. But with a knack for tinkering and building things, Austin Heil discovered he could teach an old dog new tricks.
That “old dog” being pieces of farm equipment and machines, like a John Deere 750 drill and a 1972 L2 Gleaner combine, retrofitted with precision technology.
As a sixth-generation farmer from northwest Ohio, Austin takes pride in using what he’s been given. But he also knows the importance of how technology and data can bring his farm success.
So how does he mesh the two — old machines with new technology? By making the equipment he already owns work with the precision technology products that will give him the best data in the most affordable way possible.
Testing 20-inch row soybeans
With a 280-acre corn and soybean operation, understanding what works, what doesn’t, and what he could be doing better has always been important to Austin.
This planting season, Austin tested 20-inch row soybeans using a six-row planter; just one of the many ways he likes to figure out how he can farm his acreage the best that he can.
Utilizing wider rows, Austin was able to plant a lower population of soybeans. In addition to being able to cover ground quicker and plant less seed, Austin found that he had a much higher emergence rate than what was typical.
Finding the weakest link in your operation
After transitioning to wider planted rows of soybeans, weed management became a critical aspect during the growing season. Putting on an agronomy hat, Austin says timing in spray programs is key to plant health.
“As a no-tiller, and not having our own sprayer, it limits the time that we can get in and spray,” relates Austin. “It’s now looking at the agronomy aspect and figuring out what we need; what’s the next weakest link in our production cycle?”
Planning, looking at the data, and seeing what he can do better are the first steps Austin takes before making a new equipment or technology investment.
“In order to get things to fall into place the way we need them to, we need to start planning far in advance,” says Austin. “When we’re looking at $600 a ton for nitrogen, that definitely plays into what we’re going to plant and how it’s going to be fertilized.”
Austin’s philosophy toward reaching his farm goals is to utilize technology to figure out what he needs next. Austin will ask, “What do we need to buy or not buy? How can we get by with what we have? Which piece of equipment has cost us the most? Which one is going to have the least ROI by upgrading?”
Retrofitting old equipment
Staying true to teaching old dogs new tricks, Austin has been scheming a few new ideas. Like rebuilding the grain tank on his 1979 L2 Gleaner so that it can run a yield monitoring system, and even retrofitting an old $2,000 Wilmar dry spreader with variable rate technology to apply potash at the same time he bands fertilizer.
“I want to demonstrate to our industry that yes, the cool, shiny new paint is great, but when we apply that money that we’d otherwise use to upgrade and instead apply technology to older machines, that it’s possible,” says Austin.
Here’s a glance at this episode:
[02:19] Austin Heil introduces himself and the history of his farm.
[03:09] Austin talks about his 2022 growing season and the weather events that most impacted crops.
[05:35] Even with harvest yet to happen, Austin explains why he predicts August rains may result in good soybean yields.
[07:42] Austin discusses soybean planting on his farm, specifically soybean populations, and what it was like to try 20-inch row soybeans this year.
[10:12] Austin talks about using spray programs versus the benefits of owning your own sprayer.
[13:04] Austin goes over the necessity of planning ahead for 2024.
[16:38] Austin discusses his goals for the farm and how he plans to use precision technology to try to reach those goals.
[21:25] By using data, Austin reveals what questions he plans to ask himself before buying a new piece of equipment or upgrading technology.
[25:03] Austin reveals the top two things he would do to improve his operation if he had no budget.
[31:59] Austin goes over his decision-making process for purchasing a yield monitor and how he compared two different systems to find the best fit for his operation.
Austin Heil is based in northwest Ohio, and farms on his family farm of about 280 acres. Austin knew growing up that there wouldn’t be an opportunity to farm full time but knew he had a strong passion for the ag industry. Austin graduated from The Ohio State University with the hopes of becoming a product specialist while also being able to work on the farm. After college, Austin worked with CNH in North American combined field testing where he was given the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. and Canada. His work with combine machinery allowed him to move back home and help with the family farm.
Welcome to Precision Points, an Ag Tech podcast where we plant seeds of innovation to inspire informed decisions about precision technology and its impact for growers like you. We explore precision ag tools and technology, from the soil to the sky, with your host Morgan Seger.
Morgan Seger (00:23):
Welcome back to Precision Points, an AgTech podcast from precisionagreviews.com. I'm your host Morgan Seger, and in each episode, we work to bring you AgTech information and ideas.
Today on the show, I am joined by one of the Precision Ag Review ambassadors, Austin Heil. Austin was with us back in episode 48 as we kicked off this program and today, he gives us an update on how the 2022 growing season is going for him. As a Precision Ag Reviews Ambassador, Austin has been sharing posts on our social media, so Facebook and Twitter, as well as our blog, as he is working on his operation, giving us some of that real boots-on-the-ground type information.
If you've been following him, you'll know that Austin likes to work on equipment, so we spend a lot of time talking about his equipment updates and how he takes equipment and makes it work for his operation. From there, we spent some time talking about the future, about what we would do if there were no limits to improving our farms. So it was kind of fun to work through that, and then he wraps us up, sharing his experience on making a decision around what yield monitor to get, and he really walks us through that step-by-step. So we will dive right into that conversation with Austin after a word from our sponsor.
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All right, welcome back to Precision Points. Today on the show, I'm joined by Austin Heil, one of our ambassadors on the Precision Ag Reviews team. Austin, welcome back to Precision Points.
Austin Heil (01:56):
It's a pleasure being back.
Morgan Seger (01:58):
So for those of you who are avid listeners, Austin might be a familiar voice for you. He has been contributing to the posts that we've been sharing on social media and our blog throughout the summer, and he was on the podcast back in episode 48. So we're excited to have you back on, but for those who are maybe joining us for the first time, do you mind sharing your background?
Austin Heil (02:19):
Absolutely. I'm a sixth-generation farmer from northwest Ohio. Farm with my father, and it is really neat that our farm has been in our family since 1839, so I think we're at 183 years with the same family name. And when I moved back to the farm, we didn't have an ounce of technology, no grid sampling or anything like that. And so it's been a lot of fun working with dad to understand what's affordable, and what's not affordable on our 200-acre corn and soybean operation.
Morgan Seger (02:55):
Sure. If you think about all of the changes that farm has probably seen since it started, it's really incredible to think where you are today. Tell me about the 2022 growing season. How has it been going?
Austin Heil (03:09):
Well, starting out it definitely was nowhere near ideal. It was wet for us and we got that break to finally get things in the ground, and we did not see rain. I didn't look up to see how long that period of time was, but it seemed like we didn't get rain for a very, very long time. And when you go and look at the plants, corn is very short, leaves are very small, the ear size around is very small, but you can see towards the end the cob definitely lengthened, put on a few more kernels at the end, because we saw a rain report there the other day in August, our area received six and a half inches of rain in August, which for us, is unheard of.
Morgan Seger (04:02):
Do you know what the average rainfall is, just for perspective?
Austin Heil (04:05):
No, I do not know. Well, typically in the month of August we typically plan on a half inch to one inch and it being hot and dry. And sorry to our listeners that are in the Midwest and west part of the United States, that didn't get any, for us, our crops just kept getting beat on and you'd go and look at the soybeans. And even if we put a fungicide on the corn, we still, unfortunately, ended up with tar spot, because we just had all that moisture at the wrong times. And it may not have helped you out west, because you didn't get it, but for us, it gave us disease and ended up being a lot of plant health issues regardless of hybrid, regardless of fungicide. So again, Morgan, every single year farming is farming. It's always a challenge and no two years are ever the same.
Morgan Seger (05:06):
That's correct. We try our hardest to learn from our experiences, but you know Mother Nature's going to give us a new experience.
Austin Heil (05:14):
Every year, and it does not matter how many pieces of technology that we throw at our operations, it always comes down to what the good Lord gives us or what He doesn't give us, is what it really comes down to.
Morgan Seger (05:35):
I know we say that lots of times August rains make beans, but you're thinking that we'll have a yield impact. Do you think there's some good that came with it?
Austin Heil (05:44):
Oh absolutely. I mean we always have two sides to everything. There are always a pro and a con. As far as the con, is that disease that we have for the corn, however, it did get some grain fill and with us, unfortunately, we haven't had the opportunity yet to harvest. We'll get there. But we definitely can tell on those beans when you go out and you look at the tops, I mean they kept growing and they kept putting pods on. So it'll be very interesting.
It's fun when guys are like, “Oh, I got shoulder-high beans or waist-high beans.” But you ask them, “What was your node spacing?” And they're like, “Three and a half inches.” I'm like, “Well let me know when you get ready to harvest what it's like.” And they're like, “Yep, beans are on the ground.” And ours, this year we tried 20-inch beans. I had a farmer give me a six-row corn planter and dad had the six-row corn planter. And as many have seen, if you go back and look, there should be a post on that bean planter.
And so we tried 20-inch beans this year instead of running a drill that we typically utilize. And we found out that we had a much higher emergence rate than what we did on the drill. And normally we dropped 160,000 to 180,000 with the drill, we dropped 142,000 and we found out in many fields that was still way too high. So it's going to be interesting to see how we mature with this bean planter coupled with the data. But as far as the beans go, they kept growing and they kept putting on pods. So it's going to be fun getting into them and harvesting and just seeing what the end result was.
Morgan Seger (07:42):
Yeah, soybean populations, that's just like one conversation I have a lot of fun talking about because there is a lot of unknown and it's almost like, how low can we go? Everyone's trying to drop it and drop it. But I think you're right. The first thing is really making sure you have a good stand. So moving to the planter, do you think you'll stick with the 20-inch row soybeans?
Austin Heil (08:04):
Absolutely. Because instead of being 15 feet, we're now 20 feet, so we can cover ground a little bit faster when we have that population control. So from one row to another, instead of being, because I put a 20/20 on our 750 drill and I have four sensors on it and one row could be dropping like 140,000, the other could be dropping like 220,000 and you go in and you know, you measure the flutes and you try to get everything as close as possible. We never ran the SI seed system for drills, we never ran that. And I hear a lot of people have good luck with that. I just wanted something that was more accurate.
And I don't know, for me, I enjoy tinkering. I enjoy building, like building my nutrient fertilizer band, or building this planter, I enjoy building things. So I could go and buy a 20-inch bean planter, but when you're trying to find one for, I don't know how much we had in it, we didn't have a whole lot of money in it, because most everything we already had or it was given to us. So I think we'll continue with the 20-inch. I like what we're seeing.
Really for us, disease is really down, even though what I mentioned before with the rain, but as far as the beans, they're shorter node, taller, they look a lot healthier, sturdier. So other than some of the areas that we have good ground, obviously the beans went over, but I think we also had some weed pressure in there as well that contributed to that lodging that we're going to see. But again, it doesn't matter what technology you have or don't have, there are always all kinds of things that you're going to learn.
Morgan Seger (10:10):
Yeah, I feel like that's one of the biggest learning curves when you go to wider rows with beans, is managing the weeds. Was there anything different you guys did this year, or did the beans branch out and cover?
Austin Heil (10:12):
It was depending on what the spray program was. So we work with two different companies to do our spray programs. And so working with those two different companies, it's just kind of timing. The timing was the key. And when you're basically a 100% no-tiller, you really need to be on top. And we don't have our own sprayer and so we rely on them to get in and spray. And so not having our own sprayer, it does limit the time that they can get in and spray it. And so the issues that we saw, to me, was a lot of timing issues because when they were able to get back in the field, then we got the rains and then it needed to be sprayed and then it just created all kinds of other issues as far as the plant health. And so as a no-tiller, you got to make sure you're on top of that spray program.
And that's definitely with my focus being more on that precision side and less on the agronomy since I moved back to the farm, it is now looking at that agronomy aspect and figuring out what we need. What's the next weakest link that we have in our production cycle? And so definitely that spray, and unlike Joshlin who has his own sprayer, he can get in and do it when he needs it done. For right now, we have to rely on other parties in order to make that happen. But I think that's one of the next things on the whiteboard of things to look at, things to tackle, is what does that cost?
Austin Heil (11:59)
And a lot of people share with me that one of the highest ROI pieces of equipment on the farm, is a sprayer. And so that's just something we have never sat down and actually looked at what that cost is. And so that is the next thing that's on the list to figure out is, do we invest in a sprayer? Do we do a little bit of a different spray program? I don't know, all kinds of things to look at. And I think dad was meeting with the agronomist today to go over 2023 information on potentially what is it going to cost to put out the soybeans versus corn and corn versus soybeans and just doing that pre-planning. And we're already planning for 2024, what that's looking like and what do we need to get in place in order to be ready for some of the plans, or acreage-wise, that we're going to have for 2024.
Austin Heil (13:04)
And so when we start looking now, it gives us the ability now to be looking at those hybrids when we know these fields that we're going to be planting in 2024, which are actually many of the same. So what we have planted this year will be very similar to 2024. However, we have one field that is going to be coming out of soybeans, so it's normally in about a three-year rotation. So it's always like corn, bean, bean, maybe a third bean, then it goes back to corn, just because it's so far away for us, that it makes it a challenge when you're pulling out 175 bushels versus 50 bushels. And so it's just planning, looking at the data, and seeing what we can do better.
And sometimes planning really, when we were looking at 2024, dad's like, “Well, I've never planned out this far.” But the thing is, in order to get things to fall into place the way we need to, we need to really start planning that far. And one of my good friends from Spencerville, he tells me he starts contracting commodities two years in advance, which really amazed me. But we need to start planning farther and farther in advance. And when we're looking at $600 a ton for nitrogen, that definitely plays into what you are going to be planting, how are you going to fertilize that? Are you going to do a lime gypsum? What mix is that? And so as we're looking into ‘23, ‘24 where are we going to start putting that money to make sure that we're ready for that plan for 2024?
Austin Heil (14:55)
Trying to understand what is our philosophy, where are we headed, what's our goals, and trying to hold each other accountable, dad and I, this is the plan, this is what we decided. Because sometimes if you don't have it written down and you don't physically see the words, sometimes you'll get off the path that you had planned. And like I mentioned, planning for 2024, I’ve got four screens that I look at here at my desk, and Excel is probably up on two of the four screens at all times looking at different spreadsheets, just trying to understand where are we at, what do we need to do?
And those whiteboards, the plan is to have everything written down so that dad and I can see it as well, so that we can continue to move. We only farm 280 acres, but to me I want to farm it the best that I can, utilizing the best information that I can. That is the most affordable information that we can obtain. And so when you look at that, yeah, we're a 280-acre farm, but you never know when the neighbor may come to you and say, “Hey, we love what you're doing, we want you to be part of our family history and here's 10 acres, here's 750 acres.” You never know what tomorrow brings, but to me, you’ve got to be prepared for whatever that tomorrow is.
Morgan Seger (16:38):
Yeah, for sure. A follow-up question for you. You mentioned, knowing what your goals are, so I guess my question is, what are some of your farm goals and how do you guys use technology to try to reach those goals?
Austin Heil (16:54):
Yeah, absolutely. Goals. And so when it all started, when I moved back, and I'm pretty sure I said it on the last time that we were together when I asked dad about the neighbor's corn, why it looked better than ours. And dad said, “Well this is what I know, this is what I'm doing and I don't really know exactly what I can change.” And so when we look at some of those goals and some of that technology, the idea is I want to get to the point where we're basically zero broadcast a map. I don't want to broadcast map anymore, I want to be able to try to band it.
And so that is where I built that eight-row, dad and I built that eight-row nutrient bander, converting an old John Deere 7000 planter and putting dry boxes in. It never had dry boxes, it was just a regular eight-row planter. And so we found some dry boxes, put a hydraulic rate controller on it and a hydraulic drive and turned it into a variable rate fertilizer bander. And I think we built that for $7,000. And that includes, as it sits today, is like $7,000. And so some of those goals are to get to where we are applying our own fertilizer.
Austin Heil (18:24)
And so I've got a plan. It will probably be one of the more goofier machines if I get it built, but the plan is we pay the co-op $8 to $10 an acre to apply our potash. The thing is, when I band the fertilizer, I'm already going across the field already. So why not apply potash at the same time that you're applying and banding the map? And so I'm working on a way to try to pull an old Wilmar spreader that will be all hydraulically driven with the spinners and the web and have a hitch on behind the 40-foot bar. And then as I'm going through the field, I will spread the potash with an old spinner machine that's variable rate while I'm banding the map, and I can do it all in one pass. And so we figured we could get somewhere around 40 to 60 acres, just depending on what the rate calls, but utilizing an old $2,000 dry spreader that someone has for sale and modifying it and putting our own stuff on.
Austin Heil (19:40)
So some of those goals, that's where we're going. We're having a strong conversation right now about rebuilding the grain tank on the 1979 L2 Gleaner. But at the same time, we had the opportunity to work with FARMTRX out of Canada and put a yield monitor on a 1979 L2 Gleaner. And so I'm not the first one, I'm not going to take credit for any of this, but there are guys here in the United States that are running these yield monitors on older machines. They'll also fit newer machines as well.
And there are some people I talk to that actually run this system on their John Deere or new Case combine, because of the way this system handles the data and you don't have to set up a grower farm and field in the field, you do it all in the cloud. And so as you're harvesting, instead of accidentally forgetting to change fields and now you’ve got half of Northwest Field 40, half of it is now with Northeast Field 40. Where with this system here, you put all the field boundaries in the cloud and then it'll automatically sort the data for you. And then if you have their subscription, they'll go through and clean the data and scrub the data for you and process it for, I can't remember how much it is, but they'll do that. And so where's this going? It's using technology to understand what the next weak link in our operation is.
Austin Heil (21:25)
And Precision Planting, when they came out with the SRM system, the electric V drive and the hydraulic downforce, when they came out with that, they basically shared that instead of having a 16-row planter, you now have 16 one-row planters in the field. And that kind of goes again with the technology. Now we are starting to get to the point where we may have a 20-acre field, but now that 20-acre field is now being broken down into six and a half, seven-acre, management zones, the Alpha Bravo Charlie. And so now that 20-acre field that we used to just farm one way, one hybrid, one population, one fertilizer rate. Now we're getting to the point where we may not have variable hybrid, multi-hybrid technology, but we can start driving home some of those planting populations if we know it's a determinant.
Even some of the semi-determinate, semi-flex hybrids still have some adapting when it comes to variable rate planting as well. Not as much as you're determinant, but now we can start farming these 20-acre patches as three separate fields, really without having to modify or change anything. We just write a prescription or use a smart firmware on the planter and just let the technology do what it does best.
And so that's some of those goals moving forward is to really drive home a no-till practice, understand what technology we need. What do we need to buy or not buy? How can we get by with what we have? Which piece of equipment has cost us the most? Which one is going to have the least ROI by upgrading? And so using all the data.
Austin Heil (23:35)
I look forward to being able to actually process for the first time, planting data, which we talked about before. I, unfortunately, lost all my planting data, except for 0.3 acres. So I have 0.3 acres of corn data, however, I do have some soybean data that we use the corn planter on. That gives us some higher resolution where we had a 20/20 on the bean planter. And so we'll have some of that data and it'll be fun to crunch that data.
And then one thing that we did do is, I have one field that's actually just exactly west of where I'm looking. At the south end, it had zero pounds a map, and then as you got to the north end, we had 380 pounds of map. And so we did this all in the spring and it was very interesting when I was coming in and planting next to it, you could clearly see, with being no-till and having some of those grasses growing already, you could start to see which areas you could tell the rate was, because the grass would be greener and taller than it was in the south end of the field. And so moving forward, I always got a plan, I always got something I want to do. A lot of times it is the mighty dollar that dictates what that next step is.
Morgan Seger (25:03):
Sure. So since you end with that, I'll go to this next question even though I have a few other follow-up things. One thing I wanted to ask you is, if there were no budget, so endless budget, but you can't use the money to buy more ground, what would you do to improve your operation today?
Austin Heil (25:24):
So are you talking about the whole system, or are you just asking for one piece, or are you just asking for a whole story?
Morgan Seger (25:32):
I mean, what's your gut tell you? What would be the first step you would make?
Austin Heil (25:37):
So, I guess, the two that go hand in hand is, if money wasn't an option and equipment availability was not an option, every field would be, if there's a way to do it, with us we’re very rolling and it's a challenge, and when I say rolling I don't mean we're 50 foot of elevation change. We may be eight feet of elevation change, but it is enough that it's still a challenge to go in. And the first one would be if we could have a way to tile all of our fields with a constant slope, at a constant elevation, that way that we could have a controlled drainage that we could use the topo of the field to also basically subirrigate the field for one.
Then the next part to that is, to me, I think what the Gregg Sauder and team are doing with 360 RAIN, I think our biggest limiting factor definitely here in Ohio is the fact of rain. And so to be able to have a healthy plant that is not drowned out, we need to be able to get that excess water off the field. And then that second aspect would be to have that above-ground, high-efficiency, irrigation system. Because when you're talking needing 800 to 1200 gallons a minute, well to run some of these center pivots and the aquifer that we have here, definitely will not deliver 800 to 1200 gallons. So something like the 360 Rain System would be able to give us that twofold of being able to apply water when we need it, apply nutrients when we need it and where we need it. I think, those right there would be the first two areas if money was not an option that we would definitely turn to.
Morgan Seger (28:04):
Gotcha. Well, thanks for sharing that. I appreciate that really what it comes down to is, you go to the basics because especially in northwest Ohio, tile is one of those investments that it's hard because it's such a big investment but really just will give you the base that you need to take that next step, whatever that might be once you have the ground tile and the water flow in the right way.
Austin Heil (28:28):
And it's one of those things that dad and I have had that conversation and I'm trying to think how many acres did we put 30 or 40 acres in this spring. To the north of me, we have a wet spot and when I say a wet spot, I think it's about four or five acres. And I always call it “Lake Homestead”, because whenever we get a half inch of rain or three-quarters of an inch of rain, and I'm not saying half inch or three-quarter inch an hour, I'm talking when we get a half inch a day, Lake Homestead is there and it is very proud and the ducks love it. And really, we farm that same spot basically very similar to everything else. I think if I look at the chart, it's like a four or four and a half, maybe a five on the organic matter. I mean, it is some of the most fertile ground. It is some of the best ground, however, it's like four acres that we can't do anything with because it is always drowned out.
Austin Heil (29:36)
Since we put that tile in. And so I told dad, I said, “If you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, I say let's drop some tile in” because tile is one of those things, Morgan, that we all know, that at least I hope is, you're going to pay for it whether you have it or you don't. And you might as well find some way, shape or form to have a plan. Either I'm going to put in 50% of the main today and we're going to run or we're going to put in hundred percent of the main and we're just going to systematically tile the wet spots. But tile definitely here in northwest Ohio, is definitely one of those things with our tight clays, that you need it. You're going to pay for it whether you have it or you don't.
Austin Heil (30:32)
And as we look, definitely you're well aware and some of our listeners across the U.S. where I'm located, I'm really at the head of one of the Lake Erie watersheds, the Blanchard River. And there's been a team, especially like the Ohio Farm Bureau, that has really strived to share things with us and to create demonstration farms of principles and some of those things we can't afford. But what they do on some of these demonstration farms is to show us what the future of that BMP, best management practice, really is.
And when we get things like Lake Homestead, we're getting the water that's leaving and we always know that that water is not blue and clear when it leaves the farm. It's always got soil particles and it's got some of our most fertile nutrients that are leaving with it. And so if we can get things dried, and it doesn't matter if you have the latest and greatest XYZ technology if you can't keep the soil and the nutrients on your farm, it doesn't matter what that precision technology is, it's not going to do anything until you find ways to definitely make sure that the plant has the best start that it has and then a lot of plants do not like cold and wet feet.
Morgan Seger (31:59):
For sure. Well, I'm excited to hear how harvest goes for you, especially with the new monitor, you said it was called FarmTRX?
Austin Heil (32:07):
That is correct, yes.
Morgan Seger (32:09):
So when you were setting it up on, like you said an older piece of equipment, outside of putting it in the cab, how tricky was it to get everything connected and will that data feed back into your field view data?
Austin Heil (32:24):
Yes, so when I was looking at a TopCon system with their X30, 35, I think it's X35 as their monitor and they have a yield monitor that can be retrofitted to older machines. I was looking at Loup has a system that I work on older machines and then FarmTRX was another one. And so when I was looking at these systems, the first requirement was obviously it needs to be able to fit on an older machine. The second one is what is that transfer? What is the management of data? Because what good is a number if I can't georeference it and then utilize it in some of my other platforms? And so going through that, it came down to Loup and it came down to FarmTRX. However, Loup got away from the moisture sensor that would mount on the bottom of the clean out for the clean grain elevator and they went to a sensor that's mounted on the side, just the same way that you would mount the ones that we have today on the newer machines.
And with my elevator being so narrow, it was going to take a lot of modifications to get that system on. And so as I started reading more and talking with the product support at FarmTRX, their sensor mounts on the clean grain out door, it has a direct harness that I can put a climate field view puck, field view drive in the cab, so it can record the data whether I have the iPad in there or not. And so I got two data streams that are going at the same time. So Field View is getting a stream and then FarmTRX is also getting a stream. So it's nice knowing I’ve got data in two areas.
Austin Heil (34:33)
On top of that, the module itself, I think they said has either 32 or 64 GB of storage. And so when you look at something like that, for instance, my 20-20 is an earlier gen two and I think it has like seven or eight gigs of storage on it. So if you think about how much planting data we have, I was able to go for several years and that was the downfall of why I lost my corn planting data, but it has several years of storage. And so when I put everything in the spreadsheet, and look at the cost, the FarmTRX came in at right at $3,000 with some of the additional features. It'll run on an Amazon tablet. I got a $110 Samsung tablet from Amazon and that is going to be the main screen that runs the monitor. And so I will have the iPad with Field View that I use for planting, will be right up next there. And if you go here, probably it'll come out before this podcast comes out, but there should be some pictures that I posted on how I mounted those monitors in the cab.
And so yeah, we want the monitor to be accurate like 161 to 162, but at the end of the day, that's not probable. But we want to be able to understand those high, medium and lows in the field. And if anyone's ridden in an old 1979 L2, they will know that there is not a buddy seat, there is an armrest where one cheek sits on. And so it's going to be a lot of fun riding with dad, getting this thing figured out as we get started, hopefully here in the next couple of days.
Morgan Seger (36:34):
Sure. Yeah, so I just, I'm smiling because I can visualize that, because we also have those armrest seats, they're not super comfortable.
Austin Heil (36:44):
Dad did make a little wooden chair and he put a cushion on it that will supplement, but however, if dad's chair goes down, this one does not go down. It's rigid. I just want to try to work and try to be a platform for our listeners and our industry to show and demonstrate that yes, the cool shiny paint is great, but when we apply that money that we would upgrade, that we'd use to upgrade for the shiny paint, and we apply technology to older machines, that it's possible. And to me, I think we can have a higher ROI and profitability on our farms because there are so many great companies out now that are making technology that is usable and can be retrofitted to some of our older machines. And so going forward, it's really going to be fun this fall, this winter as I start running some of the numbers and really comparing some of the data that we have, that we're able to collect by having a yield monitor now.
Morgan Seger (38:02):
For sure. Well, we look forward to it too, and we hope you have a really great harvest. Thank you so much for coming back on the show today.
Austin Heil (38:11):
Well thanks for hosting it. Thanks for having us back on and when I've got to talk with Joshlin every now and then. “What are you doing for this month, and what's your idea?” And then we'll get to talking, “How's the farm going?” And it's been a lot of fun connecting with him and whether it's Facebook or Instagram or any of those, we’re always open. If you got questions of what we're doing, comment on our posts and I would love to respond to you and just have that conversation of what works on my farm, not necessarily “what will work on your farm, but this is what I'm trying” and “maybe what works on your farm or isn't working on your farm, but if you share it with me, maybe it'll work on my farm.”
And so I think today we’ve got to open up some of those communication points and have those conversations with our neighbor, with someone in the next county and some people in other states so that we can continue to progress and just be proactive and make sure that as the American farmer, that we're always delivering the United States and the world with the highest quality product at the most affordable price. And so I look forward to seeing how things go for everyone else and how it goes for us as well.
Morgan Seger (39:34):
Yeah, well we will for sure link out to your contact information and some of the posts that you mentioned here, so people can catch up with you and really appreciate you being a part of this network that we're trying to grow together.
Austin Heil (39:45):
I appreciate it, as well. So keep up the great work.
Morgan Seger (39:49):
Thanks for tuning in to my conversation with Austin Heil, one of the Precision Ag Review ambassadors. It's always fun catching up with him. He has a lot of great hands-on, real-world experience and it's just such a pleasure to hear him share his stories as he also wants to grow this network.
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