Precision Point Blog

Michael Vos

Ag Leader

Jun, 06 2012 - by Michael Vos

Crop Insurance Reporting with SMS

As crop insurance reporting deadlines near, we begin to prepare for this annual task.  Over the years I have found that using my precision ag data simplifies the process.  During planting season, I use my Ag Leader® Integra display to record accurate planting data and then I import this information into my SMS software.

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Ag Leader

May, 31 2012 - by Michael Vos

Upcoming Landowner Conference

Attention landowners …  here is an opportunity you won’t want to miss! This Land is Your Land Summer Conference will be held on June 15th in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Hosted by US Farm Lease, the conference will cover a variety of topics targeted to absentee and non-operating landowners including: today’s farm economics, soil loss impact, drainage issues, ag technology, farm records, farm leases, crop insurance, farm tax planning and much more.  A strong line-up of guest speakers will share their knowledge including; Loren Kruse, Editor in Chief of Successful Farming, Steve Johnson from Iowa State University and Neil Hamilton from Drake Ag Law Center.

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May, 10 2012 - by Michael Vos

Value of Data: Trip to Oregon - Part 2

Yesterday we shared information regarding agriculture in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Below are additional details about Luke’s trip to Oregon. Luke and our NW Territory manager Sean Ealy, a native Oregonian, discussed the value of data with farmers and ag specialists from the Willamette valley.  The meetings were informative and they discussed various items including yield monitoring,">guidance, crop sensing using OptRx and analyzing data using the SMS Software.

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Mar, 06 2012 - by Michael Vos

SMS Special Offer - Case-IH AFS and New Holland PFS desktop software users convert to Ag Leader SMS

Ag Leader Technology is offering current Case-IH AFS and New Holland PFS desktop software users the opportunity to convert to Ag Leader SMS desktop software. CNH AFS/PFS users that choose to convert will be assured continued SMS software updates and industry leading support directly from Ag Leader. Ag Leader and SMS will continue to support the CNH file formats and changes that occur with new display firmware releases.

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Ag Leader

Jan, 13 2012 - by Michael Vos

Value of Data: Guest Blog from Adam Gittins (Part 2)

Adam Gittins

Last week, we shared an introduction to the Value of Data from Adam Gittins, Precision Ag Sales Manager with HTS Precision Ag. Below is a follow-up post from Adam – "How do you make data pay?" from the HTS Precision Ag blog. How do you make data pay? Data will lead you to management decisions that make a difference to your bottom line. What hybrid should I plant?  That decision is made each year on my farm by looking over the performance of the ones I have planted on each farm.  I run a number of side by side trials with different hybrids, so I have a good idea of how each performs on different types of soils, etc. Let me show you a couple of maps of this year’s data to illustrate why this is so important. Below is a map of the different hybrids I planted on a field this year.


Below is the yield map from the same field this year.  The different hybrids show up quite well in a streaking pattern.


So, how much difference is there in different hybrids?  There were 4 different hybrids on this farm – three from one company, one from a different company.  The one hybrid from the second company yielded 20.58 bushels less than the top number in the field, and 11.8 bushels less than the third place number.  For calculating the math, I will use the average yield of the rest of the field, excluding the low hybrid that I am comparing against, which was 15.96 bushels per acre less than the rest of the field average. Not only is this great information for you to understand what numbers work on your farm, you also can lean on your seed guy with real data to show how his product performed. How did this pay?   15.96 bushels per acre X 18.22 acres that this hybrid got planted on = 290.79 bushels X $6.00 / bushel = $1744.74, or $95.75 PER ACRE on the acres that this hybrid was planted to. Maybe the low cost seed wasn’t such a bargain after all... For more from Adam, please visit the HTS Precision Ag blog at

Ag Leader

Jan, 06 2012 - by Michael Vos

Value of Data: Guest Blog from Adam Gittins

A few months ago, we posted our first guest blog about the Value of Data from John McGuire. Today, Adam Gittins shares his thoughts on the topic.

Adam Gittins

Adam is a Precision Ag Sales Manager with HTS Precision Ag

He developed a love for agriculture at an early age while helping out on the family farm in Neola.  He attended Iowa State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Business, with an area of emphasis in Farm Business Management. Working with GPS while crop scouting, Adam developed an interest in precision ag that eventually led to a position with Ag Leader Technology in Ames, IA.  During his time with Ag Leader, Adam was still heavily involved in the family farm in southwest Iowa, helping to expand the operation in 2004.  In the fall of 2005, Adam joined the then small Precision Ag team at HTS and relocated back near the family farm with his wife, Melissa. With his in-depth technical knowledge, he hit the ground running and has continued to assist in building the team at HTS. Adam has taken over the family farm from his dad, and extensively uses precision ag in his own operation to improve efficiency and add to the bottom line.

The post below was excerpted from Adam's post on the HTS blog ( - "The Value of Data": Precision ag hardware has made tremendous strides in helping to increase efficiency and reduce costs and operator fatigue, and these things are all very valuable to any sustianable farm operation. But how are you using the data that is captured by all of this hardware? The data being captured could easily be argued as the most valuable part of the whole equation, offering the ability to be informed and make decisions with a large impact, such as seed selection, decisions about tile, in field comparisons of different products – the list goes on almost endlessly. Imagine improving your yields by as little as just 1% each year, and do it year after year - If you currently average 180 bushel per acre corn, at $5.50 per bushel, that is $990 in gross income.  A 1% increase in your yields, 1.8 bushels per acre, would add $9.90 per acre to your bottom line. The next year, you could add an additional 1%, increasing average yields to 183.6 bushels per acre, with another 1.8 bushels more than the last year for you to sell.  Your gross income would be $1009.80, adding $19.80 per acre to your farm. The bottom line?  If you aren’t spending time analyzing your data, this is a place to be looking!  If you don’t have the time or ability to do it yourself, hire someone that can. Check back next week when we share another blog from Adam about making your precision ag data pay.

Ag Leader

Oct, 13 2010 - by Michael Vos

Harvest Time - Update from SE Iowa

Harvest is progressing nicely here in southeastern Iowa. The bean crop is all but finished and corn harvesting is in full swing. It was a very rainy growing season but the yields are still respectable. Earlier in the season, when crop scouting, it appeared that yields were going to be below the normal county average, but as it turns out the yields have been surprisingly good.


The Ag Leader® Integra display in the combine is again proving to be a very valuable tool. Earlier in the harvest season there was a large moisture difference between hybrids. In order to minimize our drying costs we used the yield monitor moisture readings to find and harvest the drier hybrids. Our maps also showed us the acres of each hybrid which quickly told us the storage that was needed for the drier corn. As in many operations, managing storage bins, tractors, augers and semis is a busy task and having a display that immediately tells us the acres and moisture allows us to maximize storage, be efficient at harvesting, and minimize drying cost. The display is also showing us results that we have been anxiously waiting for all season. Different planting population blocks have shown smaller than expected yield differences while side-dressing nitrogen has shown to impressively boost yield more than expected.

One unexpected use of the Ag Leader Integra display this year was to check the weight from a new grain cart. Yeah, that is worded correctly. I said used the display to check the weight on a new grain cart. Here is how the story unfolded. We are very particular about calibrating our yield monitor, thus during the first week of harvest we accomplished this task and monitored it continuously with our old grain cart. Then the dealer called and said our new grain cart was ready. We asked him if the grain cart scale was calibrated and he said this would be done for us, but I was doubtful. Then when the first load was put into the new grain cart we checked it against the combine display, there was a 20 lbs difference on 58,000 lbs. A day later it worked out that we took corn to a certified scale and checked all the weights again, but for the first day it was nice to be confident when loading semis and filling bins. No matter how you use your yield monitor and combine display during harvest, stay safe and remember to take time for the details.  Those details are what will improve your management in the coming years.

Author's Note:  Michael Vos is in his tenth year at Ag Leader, and as the Software Sales Manager, he works with key domestic and international dealers, and sales representatives promoting the use of software to find answers from precision ag information. He was born and raised on a farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Ag Systems Technology and Agronomy minor. Away from work, he operates a 2000 acre and 5000 head hog operation in southeast Iowa.

Ag Leader

Sep, 22 2010 - by Michael Vos

SMS Basic/Advanced v10.5, SMS Mobile v4.5 coming soon!

Exciting news! We will be releasing the latest version of SMS Basic, SMS Advanced and SMS Mobile soon.  As you may have already read, the SMS Mobile release will include the added ability to install SMS Mobile on devices with a desktop operating system such as tablets, netbooks or ruggedized laptops.  (For more info, click here). One of the improvements you will notice in the next release is the ease of printing.  For the desktop products you will have an additional screen which gives you quick access to all the printing options.

Desktop Print Options

SMS Mobile (regardless of the installation option) also has the ability to print.  Using the PC version, you can send information directly to a printer, image file or a PDF.  For SMS Mobile that is used on a PDA device, you will have the ability to send information to an image format which can then be printed.  Here's an example:  Mobile soil sample printing - PC Version. Look for a more detailed explanation to come in a future post. To help ensure you can stay on the latest version of software, we have built into SMS a TrueUpdate feature. After we release the next version of SMS Basic and Advanced you can proceed to Help-Check for Updates (see below) and it will load version 10.5 to your computer. Use this method for a quick and convenient way to stay up-to-date.

New update feature in SMS Basic/SMS Advanced. Click to enlarge.

Ag Leader

Jul, 09 2010 - by Michael Vos

Getting things organized

I don’t know about your farm shop, but our shop is in dire need of some organization and cleaning. We have spent the last three months doing everything we can do to keep the planter, strip-till machine, sprayer, semis, trucks, tractors and numerous trailers operating with seed, fertilizer and chemicals. The shop area is vitally important but keeping it organized is not the top priority during these months. Your data within software is similar to the farm shop. Data is vitally important to making informed decisions, but in the last few months the top priority has been on prescriptions for planters and reading in planter and sprayer data for reporting purposes.  Thus the data within the software can quickly get unorganized and needs some attention before harvest. Watch this video for some of the most common items that you can organize.

Harvest is quickly approaching and you will receive another report card. Getting data organized so you can evaluate all the complex variables is an important step in understanding the results and improving on them next year.  On our farm we are expecting to evaluate tile installation, population trials, nitrogen rates, hybrid performance, quantify yield loss in soil that has been wet for six weeks and many more examples. The final reason to organize your data is to familiarize yourself with where the data is and what it looks like. In our shop, we typically have a drawer for all the vise-grips. After we organize the shop, most of the vise-grips are back in place and ready for the next time we need them. Hopefully the same will be true concerning your precision ag information, that you know what you have and where you can go to use those tools most effectively.

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