At Ag Leader, we understand our employees are the heart of our company, and the personalities our customers and dealers interact with every day. Take some time to meet our team. These are the people who make our company great, and help bring cutting-edge precision technology to the marketplace.
Tell us the basics
Hi, my name is Thijs Rensink, and I work in the Customer Support team here at Ag Leader EMEA. I’ve been here a little under 5 years and I call Herveld, the Netherlands home.
Tell us about your work
My primary responsibility is supervising the Customer Support team in their roles. I oversee our technial support, repairs and training efforts. I also work on special projects as they arise.
The favorite part about my job is empowering my team to achieve their goals.
One of my favorite part about working at Ag Leader is the international diversity. Because of all our touchpoints, I get to know a lot of people and cultures - both customers and employees. I also appreciate the approachability and open attitudes of my co-workers.
Tell us about yourself
Outside of work I enjoy going to music concerts and festivals. I enjoy a diverse range of music from older 60s-70s rock to today’s electronic music. I also have begun to try my hand in oil painting, though it is still very new to me. My favorite food is everything.
The best place I’ve traveled was the western US including National Parks, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. I did this trip just a few years ago and it was very memorable. The scenery was amazing as there are not too many mountains in the Netherlands!
Thijs and wife, Melanie on their trip to the western US
My favorite books are by John Man. John is a British author who writes about history, historical events and culture. He is a great storyteller and has a unique way of presenting the facts and information.
Stay tuned for more Meet the Team employee features! Be sure to check out our other blog content here.
As an Agronomist for Ag Leader, I have spent the summer traveling across the country evaluating Tech Trial performance and helping growers and dealers better understand planters and planter performance.
One Indiana grower I visited with explained that SureForce® alerted him of frequent spikes in downforce while the gauge wheel load readings would remain consistent. The grower, Dave, expected that similar applied force readings should generate similar gauge wheel load readings. Why were there some rows that didn't follow this behavior?
We examined his maps on his iPad using AgFiniti®, and noticed rows two and ten of the 12-row planter were the worst offenders. Gauge wheel sensors on these rows had been replaced, but the problem persisted.
We spent some time investigating the planter, paying close attention to row two.
Still, we were unable to find anything that would cause this row to require different amounts of downforce than neighboring rows. We found the adjustments were all correct, and it was clear that this grower prioritized equipment maintenance. Dave took us to the field where the problem was most evident.
According to the map on AgFiniti combined with our live GPS location, we stood at the point where downforce had been applied much higher and it was immediately obvious to us all that there was a simple explanation for the increased force.
The rows of corn were planted into a standing rye cover crop. However, at this spot the rows of rye matched perfectly with the rows of corn and were planted directly on top of the rye row. Due to slight differences in row spacing, this overlap would not happen in every row simultaneously. This led the grower to think the system was applying too much force randomly.
At the beginning of the day, Dave mentioned that he had a hard time seeing the value in his investment in the system. After identifying where corn rows intersected the rye strips, and digging up plants to check seeding depth, we found that everything was consistent at 2", whether it was directly on top of the rye, or perfectly in between the rye strips. SureForce performed flawlessly. Without this system, the corn planted over top of the rye would have been extremely shallow, and likely would not have grown, let alone yielded a harvestable ear. Dave now believes in the value of Ag Leader’s SureForce.
Learn more about products like SureForce and AgFiniti by talking with an Ag Leader dealer near you.
A row feeler guidance solution that works with Ag Leader displays.. no, you're not dreaming. It's true and made possible by ISOBUS Universal Terminal and Reichhardt’s PSR. You may be surprised to hear the system isn't new. It has been on the market since 2006.
Reichhardt has developed a line of row guidance sensors and controllers for combines and sprayers that interface with ISOBUS Universal Terminal displays, including Ag Leader.
For this blog we talked with Ag Leader and Reichhardt dealer, Jeffrey Bjorge (JB), Cutting Edge Ag, North Dakota and Chad Braaten (CB), Reichhardt representative to learn more about this perfect pairing.
What benefits have your customers seen using the row feeler solution? What are common reasons for customers adding/wanting row guidance?
JB: The Reichhardt PSR Tac system has been working very well. Our area is on 22” rows, predominantly. I use them on our own farm, as well as add them to customer’s units. Even with perfect rows in the flat Red River Valley of North Dakota, we see enough planter draft on RTK that our rows move. PSR Tac row guidance allows us to follow the rows accurately. I like sensor guidance, and we have quite a few systems set up with it. The systems we have are a very robust solution and are allowing customers to use their technology investment to the fullest. I love RTK, but there are a lot of times +- 1" is not close enough. This is where these systems shine"
Common reasons for wanting row guidance can be as simple as to avoid nudging on a corn head/combine, it makes for a stress-free harvest. We also have been adding the system to high-clearance sprayers for following corn in late-season applications. In narrow rows, high speeds, and tall corn, there is no margin for error. This takes the guess work out of following rows through the field.
CB: The main benefit we’ve seen has been reduced fatigue/stress when operating and allowing the operator to focus more on their surroundings. For sprayers, there also has many times been a reduction in damaged crop in the field.
The customer is typically looking for better performance in scenarios where conditions create challenges for GPS-based guidance or even hand-steering. The most popular uses of our row guidance has been for harvesting corn (downed corn or just for convenience) and following rows of crop with self-propelled sprayers (primarily to reduce crop damage).
With row guidance, the system is able to follow existing crop rather than depending on GPS position of where the crop “should be”. Since our PSR TAC row guidance product can operate independent of GPS position, it focuses on keeping the equipment with the rows, regardless of planting conditions, implement drift, side-hills, GNSS correction, etc. This leads to more consistent performance.
Ag Leader Reichhardt run screen
How long have Reichhardt systems been out in the field?
CB: We’ve offered PSR TAC row guidance since 2006. There are systems running today which are over 10 years old that have helped harvest tens of thousands of acres still using the original sensor and paddle.
What do your customers like best about the system?
JB: Everyone likes the fact that, once the system is set, there isn’t a lot of “tuning” that has to be done. Whether the system is in a combine with tac sensors, or on a beet lifter tractor running a row finder or even on a steerable hitch reading crop rows with ultrasonic sensors, the system performs and requires very little input from the user. Once a user gets away from nudging, it’s hard to go back.
CB: A few reasons:
Performance – With 10+ years of experience and feedback supporting the PSR TAC sensor, we’ve found several ways to optimize the performance of our system. This includes added functions and improved algorithms for maintaining position in the row when there are gaps in the crop, following curves/pivots and integrating terrain compensation with the system. Also, the TAC sensor itself has two independent inputs providing performance advantages over other sensor solutions when there is an inconsistent stand (our system is capable of up to 4x inputs using 2x sensors). The TAC paddle itself “glides” along crop and will naturally follow the base of the plant when harvesting in downed corn situations.
Durability – Once the system has been installed and running, there usually is minimal maintenance needed. With our patented flexible “paddle” design, the TAC sensor has proven to be incredibly durable. The operator can also back up the machine without damaging the sensor.
Flexibility – The same PSR guidance system can adapt to nearly any make/model machine and support additional guidance modes (as needed). By using the ISO 11783 Virtual Terminal standard, the existing ISOBUS terminal can be used and the same user-interface is provided regardless of display. Also, the same TAC sensor configuration can be used in 20”, 22” and 30” row spacing. Unique configurations are also available for wider row spacing or specialty crop (i.e. cotton).
Simplicity – Since our row guidance product is not GPS-dependent, it does not require management of guidance lines, etc. making the operation and setup easier. There are usually minimal adjustments after the system is setup and running.
Which components do you need to install the complete system?
CB: For a complete system, we require a supported machine which is either factory steer-ready or has steering components added (i.e. valve and angle sensor). Through Reichhardt, we source the entire system. They have full wiring interfaces for most every steer-ready combine, and many tractors and sprayers. They source hydraulic valves and are compatible with the OnTrac3™ to make their systems fully adaptable to most any machine.
Typically, Reichhardt provides a PSR iBox (controller), TAC sensor/paddle and necessary electrical harnessing to connect to the machine. There is some setup/configuration to the system, which is done via a connected ISOBUS terminal’s UT/VT interface, such as on the Ag Leader® Integra or InCommand display. On sprayers, we use 2x sensors and paddles which also require unique mounting assemblies.
There you have it. A proven row guidance solution using the industry's top display, InCommand 1200. Go ahead and learn more by talking to an Ag Leader or Reichhardt dealer near you.
We love to hear customer success stories, especially when they involve our products providing improved productivity within an operation.
An Ag Leader customer recently shared this story with us:
It was 9:30 pm when I found out Dad was struggling to set up the correct controller settings in his DirectCommand® application system. He was at the farm and I was a few hours away, so helping in person was out of the question. I accessed his InCommand® through AgFiniti's Remote Support feature to change the controller settings for him. Once adjusted, the machine worked well. The process was simple and convenient.
Have you ever experienced a technical problem or forgot a button press in the field and wished your dealer could magically appear in your cab to help you? Well, your wish is our command with Remote Support from AgFiniti®.
AgFiniti Remote Support streamlines communication for troubleshooting in the field by allowing a dealer, or anyone granted access, to view your display from anywhere.
Remote Support is great for:
Remote viewing of a display within your operation from any web-enabled device.
Allowing the display to be viewed by the dealer or servicing technician for quick troubleshooting or menu navigation help.
Quickly checking on progress and status of field operations from afar.
Time savings equates to major monetary value for Illinois farmer.
To say Bill Voyles is attentive to time on his Sullivan, Illinois, farm is an understatement.
Voyles has an “every minute counts” motto on his farm southeast of Decatur, Illinois, where for 25 years he’s always taken a forward-looking approach to technology in raising corn and soybeans. The thought process he goes through in applying technology to his 11,000-acre farm sets Voyles apart from others who also use tools like yield monitors and autosteer for crop production.
“There’s always something to be done that can be productive. I definitely think year-round with how I farm because I want to make the best use of the time and technology I have. I may not be in the tractor cab during the winter, but it doesn’t mean I’m not farming,” Voyles said. “Especially during the really busy times, every minute is valuable. If I’m planting a crop and can spend five minutes catching up on paperwork, paying bills or making a market move, that five minutes can have a major impact on my productivity and efficiency.”
Building his tech toolset
With this mindset, Voyles began integrating Ag Leader technology into his farm operation in 2005, starting with an autosteer system and later adding swath control for his sprayers to eliminate chemical overlap and help keep him in compliance with herbicide and water quality regulations.
As he continued to grow his farm, Voyles saw the potential to improve productivity and efficiency by tying together his full complement of Ag Leader technology with AgFiniti® connectivity platform, which enables him to connect all operations and communicate critical information like planting and chemical application progress between machines that helps prevent downtime and keep planters and sprayers running, even when issues come up that would ordinarily sideline one of their field operations. The increase in efficiency is especially noticeable at key times of the year — namely planting — with products like AgFiniti’s DisplayCast® wireless display connection, which enables him and other operators to coordinate planting among his two 24-row and two 36-row planters when they’re running at the same time.
“My iPad becomes another monitor in my cab, and I use it as my hotspot for DisplayCast. If one of my operators calls me, I can use AgFiniti to mirror the other monitor in real time,” Voyles said. “Now I can check on any machine anytime from my phone or tablet. The time savings of DisplayCast and AgFiniti in enabling me to see things in real time is astronomical.”
Voyles attributes much of the success and forward evolution of his farm to attention to the value of time. He also operates an automotive repair business in addition to his farm, and time is an important measure of productivity and efficiency in that business. He has applied a similar strategy of applying and managing time to both auto repair and crop production.
“In my automotive shop, I charge $65 to $100 per hour for labor. The farm is scattered across 45 miles, so if I drive from one end to the other, it takes at least an hour. If I can fix an issue using DisplayCast and AgFiniti in two minutes instead of taking an hour to drive there, I’m saving $100,” Voyles said. “Then, think about the other ways I can use that time. If I can spend that hour making a grain sale and capitalizing on a market rally, I can turn that $100 to $50,000. Being attentive to time like this doesn’t just save me money. It makes me money.”
Time as a key crop input
Managing his farm in the context of time as a valuable input also helps Voyles better maintain his machinery and equipment. Treating his time as more of a line-item on his farm’s balance sheet, he’s able to be more proactive with maintenance by conducting more preventative maintenance. Doing so helps him prevent costly, time-consuming breakdowns and helps maintain peak year-round efficiency on his farm. In other words, he approaches maintenance with a “spend a few minutes now to save a few hours later” mindset, the kind of proactive way he integrates technology into this operation.
“If you take the average 2,000-acre farmer who says he doesn’t need to be proactive with maintenance and technology, he’s wrong. If he can spend 15 minutes looking over his planter before entering the field, he may find the one loose bolt that could have cost him tons of downtime if it came loose while running in the field later,” Voyles said. “A lot of times, people don’t want to deal with problems, but I think the average farmer doesn’t conduct nearly enough preventative maintenance on equipment and technology.”
Voyles’ emphasis on time on his farm also helps him overcome a challenge that’s growing in incidence and severity around rural America. The labor pool is shrinking even more rapidly after falling 73% in the latter half of the 20th century, according to USDA Economic Research service data. With so few qualified farm workers on whom Voyles can rely to help carry out and manage many of his field operations, he’s focusing on efficiency and turning to technology to get those same jobs done.
“Labor is 100% our biggest challenge. In the last five years, it’s become almost impossible to find labor. Farm sizes have gotten so much bigger, so there are fewer farm kids with experience, and kids aren’t learning any other way,” Voyles said. “I know that technology is the best way I can become a better farm manager, and the labor situation is not going to get better. If I can get faster and more efficient using technology, it’s going to continue to help. Whether it’s autonomy or faster speeds in the field, technology is going to help offset our labor shortage.”
One example of Voyles’ full-farm, year-round approach to his technology happens during the winter – a time typically considered the off-season for row crop farmers. By planning ahead and prioritizing specific tasks at different points year-round, then he’s already a step ahead when the seasonal rush hits because of how he planned and worked throughout the year.
“Just because I’m not in the field planting a crop doesn’t mean I’m not farming. I may be getting the next piece of equipment ready,” Voyles said. “I have GPS in my Jeep, and I take that out to survey my boundary lines and make A-B lines during the winter when the ground is frozen and I can easily make it across the field.”
Moving forward, the full suite of technology he utilizes today will likely be the building blocks of an even broader collection of tools in the future. Voyles said his ultimate goal for the foreseeable future will be to increase bushel targets for his corn and soybean crops. He’ll continue to seek out new technology to help him attain those yields more efficiently, though, but yield will remain his primary focus.
“You can make your farm more productive and efficient with technology. Do you have to have everything I’m using today? No. Start with what will help you reach your yield goals and make better use of your time first,” he said. “We will stay focused on bushels per acre, but we’re going to use technology to make us better with things like planting and applying fertilizer. We’re going to always keep an eye on how much we can grow our yields with each piece of technology we integrate into this farm.”
We’re excited to share new features coming to AgFiniti® in this recent release.
USDA soil survey data is now integrated into AgFiniti, creating a more seamless way to reference soil information in prescriptions, maps and queries. Additionally, view a live map of planting, seeding, application and harvest field progress from anywhere on your iPad using the AgFiniti Mobile app.
USDA Soil Survey Maps
USDA soil survey data is now integrated into AgFiniti, creating a more seamless way to reference soil information in maps, prescriptions, reports and queries. What does soil data help you accomplish?
Review Soil Type Maps Anytime, Anywhere
Instantly view a field's soil composition by soil type according to USDA soil survey maps right from your computer, phone or tablet. Having this information readily available is helpful for scouting crop performance.
Build Prescriptions Based on Soil Type
Soils can vary greatly, even within the same field, now generate a variable rate prescription based on soil type in minutes.
See Soil Type Maps with AgFiniti App
View a field's soil composition by soil type right from your tablet with the AgFiniti App. Or access on desktop.
Analyze Yield by Soil Type
Easily compare yield by soil type or moisture by soil type in the Soil Type Comparison Report.
Live Harvest Maps - YouTube
Live Mapping from Display to iPad Expanded
No need to wonder what’s happening throughout the operation, wait until the end of the day, or drive to the field to get an update. Access a live map of planting, seeding, application and harvest progress from anywhere on your iPad. Plus, with the new area remaining feature, quickly see when the harvester, planter or applicator will finish a field.
Easily see how much area is left in your field! With the new area remaining stat, quickly see when the harvester, planter or applicator is going to be finished and ready to move fields without having to call or be in the cab.
Tech your planter with one of these great deals!
Take advantage of this competitive trade-in program, per row discount and get special low-rate financing on SureDrive® and SureForce® systems.
Do you want to overcome compaction issues on your farm? Perhaps you want improved seed placement and spacing. Maybe you want a window into your planter to identify issues before it costs you yield. You can get all that and more and save BIG with these deals!
Here are some of the program details:
Now through July 31, trade in a qualifying clutch control or downforce module and receive $200 off per row when you buy a SureForce AND SureDrive system with an InCommand® 1200 display. See dealer for qualifying trade-ins.
The Summer Special financing offer runs June 3 - July 31, 2019. The finance option is 2.99%, $0 down, no payment for 6 months. Available in US only though Canada also has a separate Summer Special program, see dealer for details.
The trade-in program gives growers a lot of flexibility while allowing them to upgrade their planter to our newest technology," says North American Director of Sales, Sean Ealy. "We only ask for the module to be traded in, and in return growers can choose to use their legacy display elsewhere on the farm or work with their dealer to find a home for some of their viable older system parts.
Don't have a trade-in? No problem, there's a separate offer for you! Until August 31, 2019 all SureDrive and SureForce purchases automatically have $100 taken off per row, or $150 off per row when you install both systems.