The Real Story – How Technology adds value to our customers
CSS Farms was founded by the Carter and Spevak families in Watertown, South Dakota. They are friends, farmers, and entrepreneurs and have grown their operation across the country since its start in 1986 with their first field of Potatoes. In 2018, they planted roots in Bliss, NY and began working with LandPro Equipment’s Precision Solutions team, in addition to allowing us the opportunity to sell, service and supply parts solutions of their fleet of John Deere Agricultural Equipment.
The CSS team, Pete, Braeden and Aaron were gracious enough to sit down with us to talk more about how our Precision Solutions and John Deere Technology have been of value to them and to their operation.
CSS started using John Deere Technology in 2018 with their first sprayer. It was equipped with Exact Apply and Vision Sense. They’ve added a new John Deere Sprayer each year since – always including Exact Apply. In 2020 they added their first John Deere Tractors with John Deere Technology and started diving deeper into John Deere’s Operations Center. They are continuing to grow and implement new John Deere technologies into their farming operation.
Because CSS is a potato grower, the way they use technology is a little different than local corn and bean growers. It takes several different pieces of John Deere Technology to make their operation work. Operations Center, Autotrac, Autotrac Implement Guidance, Machine Sync, SurePoint Application Systems, John Deere Rate Control, Exact Apply and BoomTrac are a few of the technology pieces CCS has found value in.
CSS’s Equipment Manager, Pete, looks forward to when John Deere offers more integration, especially for their potato planter population, fertilization and documentation.
When speaking with us about how they’ve incorporated John Deere technologies into their farm, Pete talked about Active Implement Guidance and how blind hilling allowed for the elimination of one complete pass. This in turn saves about 4 employees 4 weeks’ worth of work. Not to mention the fuel and wear and tear on equipment. When they’re done planting/blind hilling they’re done and can focus on other things like irrigation and spraying.
Braeden, CSS’s Field Manager talked about how John Deere’s Technology is more efficient and user friendly. He noted that it basically incorporated itself into their farm business. It’s also made it easier to teach all employees about different aspects of the business through the available data.
Aaron, CSS’s Agronomist reviewed how Operations Center has really helped do a better job of managing and applying products in the right spot at the right rates. As the farm’s Agronomist he’s able to pull up things like planting data and translate that back to what they’re seeing in the field later in the year. They’ve been able to utilize this more reliable technology to reduce cost. When planning a job, he used to have to factor in extra chemicals, now because of technology like Exact Apply, he doesn’t have to, and you can really see the cost savings.
We asked all three CSS managers what their favorite, most used piece of John Deere Technology was. For Pete, it was Operations Center and Active Implement Guidance (AIG). With them, he can better manage all aspects of equipment. AIG eliminates passes and has perfect potato placement at the top of the hill. Braeden spoke highly of Autotrac and Machine sync. Autotrac reduces operator fatigue throughout the long days of planting and harvesting. Machine Sync reduces potato bruising because there is a smoother transition for the potato from the harvester to crop cart. It also eliminates operator error.
Aaron said that, for the Agronomist, it’s Operations Center. He said it’s what makes the difference between John Deere and any other manufacturer. They now have the ability to easily locate field and machine data almost instantly as the work is being done. He can literally be anywhere and have access to it and track progress real time. The remote display access is a difference maker because he can be anywhere and answer an operator’s question and walk them through things like screen set-up firsthand.
We dove deeper into Operations Center web/mobile, and JDLink connectivity and how those technologies benefit their farm operation as well.
Pete loves how they reap the benefits of real time data. He’s able to stay connected and track equipment even when he’s nowhere close to the field. Their local growing operation covers over 60 miles and about 200 fields. He can see, real time, where the equipment is and where it’s been, in addition to how much work is left. He is also able to see how much horsepower has been used and overall productivity. He can log on at the end of a day and see exactly how productive each crew, machine and employee was. From a logistics standpoint, Pete can share a pin of a field location to an operator that may not have access to Ops Center or simply doesn’t know where the field is. For Braeden he can easily find and search new fields they may have acquired that year, find all the tractors in the field and distinguish where certain variety breaks are in a field. Aaron said that overall, just having the availability to see yourself and others in a field as work is being done without physically being there is an incredible asset. The ability to give different employees only the level of access they require to get the job done is also important to them. He feels the Mobile app is great because it allows for multi-tasking and to not be tied to an office. They used to have to figure out what wasn’t working after the crop grew, now they can diagnose and figure things out as they happen. Aaron specifically called out the new Field Analyzer as a “fantastic” tool. He said it allows you to see every analytical piece of data there is. He ended saying “Sometimes you look back and wonder how you ever did the job without it.”