Farming in Nebraska is a challenge every year, especially when the weather doesn’t deal a favorable hand. However, last year rains came at the right time for soybeans, with some farmers seeing one of their best soybean crops ever.
That momentum has turned into interest in buying sprayers.
“This year it just blew up,” said Troy Lorenzen, of LandMark Implement. “We're actually very low on used sprayers, and the biggest surprise we've had is big tank sprayers. They've typically been very hard to move at times, and we're cleaned up on big sprayers.”
Lorenzen says the demand and price have finally intersected, creating new interest.
“We're seeing some first-time sprayer buyers actually buy the bigger sprayers,” he said.
Colin Schwenka, a farmer from Hartwell, Neb., made the switch 2 years ago, a move he says gives him more flexibility on the farm.
“You can put the dry box on, so we started putting our own dry fertilizer on and can do a little bit of that and save some money by doing it ourselves,” he said.
The sprayers also come with equipped with new technology, making regulatory compliance easier, a major sticking point for farmers in the area.
“Keeping all your reports and everything you need to do to keep your bookwork in line on what was applied and when,” said Schwenka.
From farmers to custom applicators, interest in larger sprayers in gaining pace.
“It used to be a 6-month application window for the most part,” said Chris Borland with Crop Protection Services in Kansas and Nebraska. “Anymore, you look at it being a 10- to 11-month period.”
Farming in Nebraska not only brings little rain most years, but Mother Nature also pushes fierce winds across the state, making it difficult to meet the strict restrictions on when applicators can spray.
“We're going to see more of that with the new 24D and Dicamba that are new this year,” said Borland. “There are certain label restrictions, especially around wind that will have to be followed.”
The strong sprayer purchases and prices are just one sector catching the eye of Machinery Pete in the new year.
“Large horsepower tractors, we've seen some really strong pricing,” said Greg Peterson, also known as Machinery Pete, host of Machinery Pete TV. “Sprayers, we've seen some surprisingly strong prices there.”
“I would say the biggest surprise for us in used equipment would be the activity we've had since the beginning of the year,” said Shane Sammons, used equipment manager for LandMark Implement. “We've had more than most of us expected in just a little bit of everything, so a good mix.”
Machinery Pete says he saw strong prices on planters to close out 2016, but that’s a trend growers should watch, as it may not last.
“The pricing we saw at the end of 2016 was very strong on the late model planters,” he said. “What we see in January is [that] prices sort of held, and normally you think it would get a little higher right before planting, but sometimes it works the opposite way.”
For area farmers, technology is driving purchasing decisions right now.
“We like the technology that works,” said Kent Stones, a farmer from Lebanon, Ks. “We appreciate the factory-installed technology that helps with our precision, guidance.”
From more precise farming decisions to better data, it's changing the game of farming.
“All the yield data, and how fast and accurate the moisture we can get on them,” said Schwenka. “Everything is right there, and now that you can use the Wi-Fi, you send it, you go home at night, and it's all right there and ready for you.”
“The biggest impact I see coming is the evolution of data,” said Justin Atwood, IFS manager with LandMark Implement. “We've been collecting data since the late 90s, and for the most part, that data has set in a note book in their office. Now, we're getting the point where we utilize that data and make better decisions and try to develop more powerful information, so they can get the most out of every acre on that farm.”
Farmers may be just starting to scratch the surface on data, but farming is still full of unknowns.
“I think 2017 will be a lot like 2016,” said Lorenzon. “I think there will be some challenges.”
“Right in this area, we had a pretty dry summer, we had a real wet spring, and then it's been pretty dry,” said Schwenka. “We had some ice and pretty good moisture about a month ago, but we'll definitely need some rain this spring.”
As the sun rises on a new day, it revives hope. Hope of more than just rain. These farmers are striving for an even better year so their legacy can live on.