Featured In This Episode

Guest | Channel Seedsman, Central Illinois

Dave Wallner

Host

Pam Fretwell

Pam Fretwell
Today, on "Channel Chat", we have seedsman, Dave Wallner, joining us. Now, Dave's a fourth-year Seedsman out of Pleasant Plains, Illinois. Recently he has helped pilot Channel's new integration with Climate FieldView platform. Today, Dave and I are going to discuss how he uses technology during his harvest and how it can help to make product selections for next year. First of all, Dave, welcome to the show. Just give me a little bit of your background as far as agricultural background and what led you to really be a Seedsman.

Dave Wallner
Yes, so I grew up around a farm operations center in Illinois. My uncle operates the family farm. It's west of Springfield, Illinois. I grew up helping him, working for him. Even after high school, I worked for him full time. I decided that I probably should go to college, so I decided to Illinois State and get my ag business degree. Working with my uncle on the family farm really helped shape the work ethic I guess that I put in with my growers. When you're hands-on on a family operation like that, it really gives you a lot of appreciation for the stress and the magnitude of the decisions that these growers make on a daily basis, so it's really helped me try to hone in on how I can help my growers, how they can be more successful, and how I can just make their lives easier.

Soon after returning from college, I worked for an ag retailer in Central Illinois for a couple years in the technology side of their company and how to deal with a lot of the digital tools and precision equipment. And, soon after that, I had the opportunity to come to Channel. And throughout the years of working with data and the digital tools in the retail space, I got to look at a lot of yield data and performance of the Channel products over three to four years over thousands of acres across Central Illinois. And it really made that decision to come to Channel that much easier because I mean I truly saw, year after year, when you analyze yield by hybrid, their products always kind of rose to the top. And any time you can partner with a company that has product performance like they do, it's a pretty easy decision.

Pam Fretwell
Can you give me some examples of some things that you learn throughout the growing season with your farmers and how you really helped to determine when they should start their harvest?

Dave Wallner
Yeah, I think harvest timing and order of the field that we harvest comes down to stock quality. At the end of the day, that's one of the top things on my mind and a grower's mind. We're not efficient and we're not making money when we're harvesting damaged corn, so over the course of the year, August, September, and even once the combine starts to harvest, I'll continue to evaluate my customer's fields. Things just as simple as a push-pull test, I'll, you know, push on that stock. Will it bend and break and fall over, or is the stock quality really good in developing a plan of what hybrids are we going to have stock quality issues in and what hybrids can we leave till the very end?

Pam Fretwell
Tell me a little bit about the technology that you're using as far as your go-to tools and technologies that you use with your farmers.

Dave Wallner
Most of my growers, I like to utilize the Climate FieldView tool. I've worked with the FieldView tool since its inception back in I think it was 2011 when we first started using it. And, I've always been a data guy. The decisions that these growers have to make on a daily basis are pretty big. There's a lot at stake. So, the better informed we can be when we make those decisions, the better off we're going to be.

So, I like using FieldView with my growers and the combines. We can use the FieldView Drive which plugs into the CAN-bus port on a combine to collect yield data. There are a lot of guys who've been collecting yield data over the years, but with the FieldView tool, the amount of layers that we can overlay to dive deeper into what is working and what is not working on a grower's operation. From the fall, we can track our anhydrous ammonia applications with the FieldView Drive, and different rates, and different times, and all that. And then we put it in a planters tractor, and matching hybrids, and planning the population. And then we can move it into a sidedress bar if the grower sidedresses, and track different sidedress timings. We can move the same drives over to the sprayer, and track our fungicide and insecticide applications, and then put it in the combine.

So, here's one tool that can literally analyze and collect almost every pass that we make throughout the growing season and that many more layers that we can analyze in the fall, real-time. So, as soon as a grower gets done with the field or even before he's done with the field, he can hit one button and be able to see the report by hybrid, by yield, and know what hybrids we're going to be looking at using next year, what soil types did these hybrids work best on. And then from the fungicide standpoint, we can have a field region report setup. And as soon as we get through that area of the field, we instantly know that fungicide application that cost me $30 an acre just made me $70 an acre, and that's the tool that growers need to be using and spend more money on these crops every year making educated decisions based on the results that we've seen.

With FieldView, really the possibilities are endless as far as what we can track, and that's one thing that I've really enjoyed working with my growers on is different trials throughout the growing season. And all the customers that have connected with me, I can see all that data, I can work with them, so then we can start pulling the data together. And I can take five customers that are going to try this fungicide at this time, and I have five guys that are doing side dressing with zinc and boron in different strips. And the next thing you know, instead of looking at data on a 2,500-acre grower, we are looking at the same trials on 50,000 acres of 5 different growers, and it just makes those decisions more powerful, and we're more confident when we make those decisions. So, that's something that I encourage all my growers to use this FieldView platform just because it's so much easier to accumulate all that data in one spot.

Pam Fretwell
Can you explain the integration of Seedsman360 with Climate FieldView? And why is that important to Channel farmers?

Dave Wallner
So, for those that don't know, Seedsman360 has been an iPad scouting tool that your Channel Seedsman has been using for a couple years now, and it's allowed us to track what's going on in that grower's field throughout the year so we can take down scouting notes, take pictures, make recommendations. But, the grower never really knew what was going on. They never had access to see real-time what we were doing unless we created a report and send it to them. We're now using FieldView. As we make those observations, we're dropping the pin, and those pins will sync directly to the grower's FieldView account. So, I can call my grower and say, "Hey, I just got out of the West 80. I dropped a couple pins. You can see what's kind of going on." And, those pins are going to be on his account, and he can open them up, see everything that I noticed – stand counts, disease pressure, and what have you. He's going to see that real-time, and that's also going to flow to Seedsman360.

So, at the end of the year, I can kind of bundle all my scouting observations, put them into one report, and make a recommendation. So, year after year, we'd have different problems and every grower has different problems. So we really need to have a plan in place on how we are going to fix those problems. And, the Seedsman360 app allows to put everything I saw, ... the problems, here are the possible solutions to those problems, look it over, and then we sit down this winter to finalize your seed plans and then have these conversations about how we're going to fix this because there's no sense if everybody put in the work to monitor what's going on throughout the year if we're going to make the same mistakes the following year. We really need to have a plan in place to fix the mistakes that we're making. And maybe that's a product change, maybe that's an equipment change, ... practices, whatever it is. We need to fix those for the following year, and FieldView and Seedsman360 really gives us the tool to crack everything and develop a plan.

Pam Fretwell
So, is Channel the first seed brand to integrate with Climate FieldView? And, what kind of feedback have you heard from your farmers when you have been using this Climate FieldView during your Field Check Up Series visits this year?

Dave Wallner
Yes. So, Channel has been the first company to integrate with FieldView. The Field Check Up Series visits is something that we buyers have done as Channel Seedsmen, and we're monitoring the maturity stage, and reproductive, and seedlings. And as the crop progresses through the year, we're out there trying to get boots on the ground at every different stage to analyze the performance that we're getting out of the products and the different practices that the grower uses. And FieldView, the integration with Seedsman360, has allowed me to, you know, share what I'm seeing in the field throughout the Field Check Up Series visits, share that real-time with a grower so they can see it. In years past, I would have had to create a report and send it to the grower for them to kind of know what's going on, to know what I was doing. And now I can drop pins, I can take pictures, make my notes or recommendations. And, as soon as I do that, they can see on their iPad or iPhone right from the FieldView app. So, it's been a really good transition. I think my growers really appreciate the tools that it has provided them just to know what's going on real-time and having all that information in one spot so they can easily make decisions based on what we're seeing out in the field.

Pam Fretwell
All right. Well, I want to thank Dave for joining us today. If you have any questions about anything that Dave and I have discussed today, you can continue the conversation by tweeting your questions and just use #ChannelChatPodcast. And, if you're interested in using Climate FieldView this harvest, contact your local Channel seedsman and they can help you get started.

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