PONTIAC – Most of the tours at the Precision Planting research farm in Pontiac have concluded for the year but visitors already want to come back.
That’s encouraging news for commercial agronomist Jason Webster who oversees the Precision Technology Institute (PTI) Farm along Interstate 55. Growers are often given a survey at the end of their experience and many want to return and were impressed with what they saw, according to Webster.
The farm incorporates research from the past with products and treatments in addition to agronomy testing.
“As guys tour the farm, they see the agronomic trials we are working on, but then we literally give them the keys to equipment,” Webster explained. “We’ve got planters set up that not only do high-speed planting, but planter nutrition on the fly.”
Here’s a new concept: customers actually head to the field, plant corn and test drive tractors. It’s happening at the farm through an area known as the “sand box.” Webster likes to let the customers talk and get a feel for what they are interested in.
“I’m a farmer myself and when we go to buy equipment, sometimes we’ve never run that equipment before and some of this is pretty pricey,” Webster admits.
Virtually every Precision Planting product is tested at the Pontiac farm. Webster considers the company’s SmartFirmer a “tremendous” technology moving forward, allowing growers to sense soil conditions while planting. This leads to the creation of management zones in the field in real time – shown on a color map. Drip irrigation is another concept on display.
“I look at it as almost instant gratification of adding that water and nutrients to corn.”
Webster is amazed with the number of visitors to the PTI Farm in 2018, coming from all over the United States and the world. People have visited from England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
“We try to keep it at about 60 people a day with smaller groups so we give time for everybody to go through the sand box and get in that tractor cab to experience what’s going on in the field,” Webster added.
The farm is highly visible from Interstate 55, especially on the days when dust is flying from the demonstration area. For more information, visit www.precisionplanting.com and click on the “PTI” tab. The company’s PTI trailer often travels around the country during the winter months to teach growers about products and solutions to problems in the field.