Christian Wytinck always seemed to run out of seed be- fore he finished seeding one of the fields on the family’s farm operation near Cypress River, Man.
“We just bought this one field close by and when we went to farm it, Dad thought it would seed 295 acres, but when I went to actually seed it I would always run short of seed,” the 23-year-old graduate of the University of Manitoba’s agricultural diploma program said.
Why it matters: Removing the guesswork with tools such as GPS can improve a farmer’s bottom line
“When we got this new sprayer with section control it turned out the field ended up being 314 acres, so it was a good representation of the proper area measurement,” he said.
“If you’re on land that you just acquired or maybe land that you just bulldozed, section controls are a really good representation of actual acres,” Wytinck said.
GPS units are now available in almost every new tractor, and adding a unit to older models is relatively easy and affordable. A majority of operations are now using GPS, but that wasn’t the case even just 10 years ago.
For Wytinck, who has returned home to farm full time, having GPS isn’t a luxury or convenience; it’s essential.
In addition to providing more accurate measurements of field area, he sees the potential for reducing inputs due to less overlap and the family’s mixed grain and dairy operation.
While Wytinck has been happy with the accuracy and measurement features, there are other aspects about GPS and section control he’s seen benefits from.
“I’ve been using the GPS degree measurement, so on all the fields we have that are north-south I’ve been seeding them at zero degrees, which is a true north-south straight line, and on the east-west fields I’ve been going at 270 degrees,” he said.
“So then for zero-till applications I want my air seeder to follow between the rows, and I can almost guarantee that it will because I’m seeding at the same degrees every year.”
Wytinck said the degree measurement is helpful for other things such as tillage or swathing. He says depending on each field, simple things like going at an angle instead of a straight line can cut down on wasted acres and help to maximize consistency and efficiency.
Emerging technologies are among the things that excite Wytinck about coming back to the farm to work with his brother Miguel and their parents Jamie and Joelle.
Another area of interest is weather stations. Several companies are starting to offer farmers access to a system of remote and local weather stations spread throughout the Prairies.
This weather information is localized and more detailed than that from a national or provincial station, allowing a closer look at the conditions than a station that’s potentially 20 to 30 kms away.
“You can view everything right from home, and you’re not driving wasting time and gas to check a crop that you can’t work. Maybe you want to spray but your field is nine kms away, now you can just check the station to see how windy it actually is rather than having to physically go check.”