Precision Agriculture and BBI’s Task Command System

By Lee Kilpatrick

Our company just launched the Task Command System, an integrated suite of technology comprising a driver-operated display terminal that utilizes the ISOBUS electronic connection standard on all new tractors, connecting to an advanced electronic/hydraulic spreader control system that maximizes the use of variable rate technology (VRT) available on select spreader models.

Farmers have been using dry-broadcast spreaders for decades—many may ask, why does BBI Spreaders continue to release dashboard displays, software, and spreader-mounted electronics to go along with them? Is this some kind of fad?  What’s wrong with my old mechanical fertilizer spreader?

To answer these questions, let’s start with the most consistent problem we wrestle with at BBI Spreaders—it’s actually our core mission: 

What can we do for our customers to improve the current economics of their farming operations?

Just as we’ve pioneered utilizing cost-in-use calculators to determine the best spreaders for our customers, we’ve approached integrating technology after seeing a critical mass of emerging research on what elite farmers are doing to drive higher yields, lower waste, and better efficiencies.

As we have been exploring solutions that improve the economic standing of our customers, we have been informed by recent research from the USDA’s Economic Research Unit:  On the Doorstep of the Information Age—Recent Adoption of Precision Agriculture.  The agency’s David Schimmelpfennig and Robert Ebel performed valuable analysis of the current state of farming in the United States, zeroing in on corn and soybean farms. 

What Schimmelpfennig and Ebel found is quite compelling, as they tracked the adoption rates of four emerging information technologies—yield monitors, variable-rate application technologies, guidance systems, and GPS maps.  When farmers adopt these technologies in a logical sequence of applications—monitoring yields and soil data, and then using variable-rate technology—there are multiple positive outcomes:

  • ·         Lower fuel use and cost of equipment operation
  • ·         Elimination of over-fertilizing, over-seeding, and over-treatment for pests
  • ·         Lower spend on inputs (fertilizer, seed, pesticides) due to eliminated waste
  • ·         Efficient, targeted distribution of fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides—the right amounts needed for the right plants
  • ·         Less run-off of fertilizer and pesticides, preserving land and water quality nearby
  • ·         Higher yields across the field

When you step back and look at all of these benefits, you realize that higher yields, getting more outputs out of fewer inputs, and doing business in a sustainable way that preserves the land for future production years and new generations of farming are the very fundamentals of agribusiness.  So as we continue to invest in technology that enhances precision agriculture at BBI Spreaders, we have realized that the sophisticated farmers—people who direct business operations on farms in a manner akin to executives in any business—will surely be adopting precision farming information technologies at even higher rates over the next decade.

So, if you are still using a mechanical spreader and think you’re ready to take the next-level step into precision agriculture, you should talk with any of our highly trained spreader sales staff , either directly through email, phone call, or come and visit with us in person at a trade show near you.

There you have it—the Task Command System from BBI Electronics, just another example of how we listen to what’s going on in the field and bring products to our farmers that will bolster their economic performance.  It’s what business—and agribusiness—is all about.

Lee Kilpatrick is Director of Sales and Marketing at BBI Spreaders.