Finding Progress through Precision

Over the past few decades, farmers have been incorporating new technologies into their operations with the goal of producing more food with fewer resources. For many, the mantra with planting has previously been “simple is good.” However, as new technologies have been introduced and evolve to fit the needs of the farmer, a great deal of new information can be collected and used for management decisions.

Custom crop and service providers, Dairy Support Services Co. (DSSC) of Truxton NY, have used an array of planters over the years on farms across Central New York. From a 6 row, to double 4, to 12-row planters, they have evolved with their customers to be able to offer a full menu of services including work with planting, harvesting, and manure needs. DSSC tries to find new and innovative ways to reach the specific goals of each of their unique customers.

This year, DSSC has partnered with Dairy One, Precision Planting, Agroliquid, Kings Agriseeds, Ward & Vas Scoy, and the Cornell University Ruminant Center to update a planter with a whole shopping list of Precision Planting technologies. Some of these new technologies include Delta Force, vSet, and Furrow Force. Delta Force adjusts the downforce pressure by row based on soil conditions. vSet uses a high vacuum setting and floating singulator to achieve a 99% singulation rate regardless of differences in seed size and shape. Furrow force is a two-staged closing system that destroys the furrow created to take away compaction and ensure there is just the right weight for optimal seedbed moisture and soil density.

This season, the planter will take part in a variety of demonstration plots. The purpose of these demonstration plots will be to measure and observe different management technologies and the effect they have on yield. We will be analyzing variations of populations, fertility, downforce, and depth along with different plant hybrids. These variables will be tested at different frequencies and settings to test what is commonly used in the industry and discover what delivers the highest yields in different scenarios. After this planting season, there will be a large amount of data to collect up until, and after harvest. To learn more about these technologies and the planter check out Bringing Precision to Northeast Planting.

For DSSC, flexibility is crucial. “We find ourselves in so many different situations, whether tillage, planting corn for forage or grain, it’s very important that our planter is as flexible as we are. Having information at our fingertips in a manner that lets us glean some advantage from it allows us to be more flexible and do some corn planter gymnastics that benefit our customers directly,” says Doug Potter of DSSC. This planter is the only one known in the Northeast that incorporates all of these technologies. The individual in the tractor cab will be able to set and react to changes in the field as information comes in. “The amount of work that each one of us is going to need to do is only getting ratcheted up. We are going to lean heavily on technology in the future to augment our ability to do more, and do it faster and better.” With guidance and knowledge, this will allow the individual to adjust to the exact conditions to place every seed at exactly the correct depth and moisture level for maximum yield potential. 

“It’s very important that our planter is as flexible as we are. Having information at our fingertips in a manner that lets us glean some advantage from it allows us to be more flexible and do some corn planter gymnastics that benefit our customers directly.”

Doug Potter of Dairy Support Services Co.

As a Precision Planting dealer, Dairy One relies a lot on data that comes out of the Precision Planting research farm in the Midwest. However, Scott Potter of DSSC knows that “we are not the heartland or the breadbasket here in NY and trying to make these technologies work in our conditions is a little different. Doing the research ourselves is going to make that information more applicable if we know how it can work with the extremely varying grounds we help our customers tend to.” It is for that reason that Dairy One has partnered with DSSC to bring this cutting edge technology to the North East and “with the help of the Potters, we are going to be able to say, this is what we can do here in NY,” says Craig Todd, IFS Support Specialist at Dairy One.

Each farm that DSSC works with also has a unique CAFO or nutrient management plan. It is important to know what exactly you are fertilizing your soil with. By knowing manure composition, and using technology to treat each row’s specific needs, farmers will be able to get as much high-quality feed from their land as possible. “We need to be in a spot to justify all of our inputs. If we say we need X amount of nitrogen, we better need that amount of nitrogen. We cannot afford to overspend on inputs, and our customers cannot afford to overspend on inputs either,” says Doug. For Scott, one of the most exciting things in the nutrient management parameters is coupling manure nutrition with mineral fertilizer nutrition. Working within regulations to achieve strong yields of high-quality forage helps drive profits for the farms. Using the customer’s nutrients with their land base to the best possible advantage is the sweet spot for DSCC.

For DSSC, it is a family affair. The team is made up of five members of the Potter family including Scott, Dan, Doug, Matt, and Bruce. The team also includes several other key employees that are not blood related. “We’ve always drawn from farm raised people that can identify with our industry. More and more I think the opportunity lies with those outside that community though. People see that this is a satisfying career in a needed industry. It is really about engaging new, young people to join or stay in the industry. There are opportunities galore,” says Scott. With the new technologies in agriculture, going out and operating equipment is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. DSSC values working with dairy farmers, and are truly dairy farmers themselves at heart. For Scott and the DSSC team, “We want to move our business forward. We want to be in this game with the customers who want to be in the game. We are doing this because it is fun, because there’s a challenge, and we can do something different and better.”

“We want to move our business forward. We want to be in this game with the customers who want to be in the game. We are doing this because it is fun, because there’s a challenge, and we can do something different and better.”

Scott Potter of Dairy Support Services co.

There has been a true desire to work together. DSSC, Dairy One, and other industry professionals have made a significant investment in dollars and time to make this happen. John Gloss, Director of Integrated Farming Solutions at Dairy One, notes that all technology fails at first if the people applying it are not committed. Luckily, with the dedicated and passionate groups of DSSC and Dairy One, we will be able to learn and adjust accordingly. “What the equipment is capable of is one thing, but it is really the people, and what happens in the seat of the tractor that makes all the difference. Having commitment there from people running the equipment I think is where the success is,” says Gloss.

The technology we use and rely on both in our personal lives, and businesses is only increasing. This is true across the entire agricultural industry. If you have any questions about Precision Planting products or other precision agriculture technologies, contact us at precisionfarming@dairyone.com or 607-252-7550.

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