There was a sense of urgency in the way Aaron Bartlow spoke as he stood in the large field of black dirt.
Normally this field would be dotted by straight green rows of baby corn stalks or soybean shoots. But planting season was running way behind because of cold, wet conditions.
In fact, Bartlow had just started planting the field when we asked him to stop and chat. Despite the long hours of work ahead, he was more than happy to tell us about the new equipment he was going to use to get this year’s crop in the ground.
Bartlow recently invested in a new planter that has variable rate technology (VRT) and is smart enough to plant seeds independently based on an area’s specific needs.
“We variable rate seed based off past yield history, fertility, elevation, and drainage,” Bartlow said. “And it does it automatically as we go throughout the field. It’s recording what we’re doing, where we’re doing it.”
The planter makes sure that seeds are delivered into the ground at the optimal depth, no matter how hard or soft a patch of dirt is, and it plants the right amount to maximize production in that specific area.
Bartlow also uses VRT for fertilizer application.
“We’re going to fertilize based on what that little, small area needs,” he said, adding that the main goal is to ensure a plant reaches its fullest potential with the least amount of inputs.
Technology like this will boost productivity, but Bartlow knows that’s only part of the equation. Having good fertile land, like the tracts he leases from Farmland Partners, is likewise important.
Our relationship with Farmland Partners is very good.
“Our relationship with Farmland Partners is very good,” he concluded. “They’re working with us to help make the farms better to raise big crops.”