Smart Application

Technology - Smart Application

SIMPAS uses SmartCartridge enclosed containers to apply prescribed rates of either or both dry or liquid products in one pass. (Progressive Farmer image provided by AMVAC)

A new in-furrow crop-protection and nutrient-application system holds promise for improved planting efficiency and handling safety.

Jason Orr, Rowley, Iowa, was one of five Midwest producers selected to evaluate SIMPAS -- Smart Integrated Multi-Product Prescription Application System -- while planting corn this spring. AMVAC developed and patented the system. Trimble is the equipment and technology distribution partner.

SIMPAS uses SmartCartridges that allow a farmer to prescriptively apply up to three in-furrow granular or liquid products simultaneously per row while planting. Each container can hold 20 pounds of granular or 2.5 gallons of liquid products such as insecticide, fungicide, nematicide, micronutrients and more. The system is set for commercial release next year.

Orr used SIMPAS to apply Aztec HC for corn rootworm control, Counter to control nematodes and the micronutrient zinc while planting 1,500 acres of waxy corn. He cut refill time for crop inputs, excluding seed, from about 30 to 15 minutes compared to the SmartBox system that was previously installed on the 12-row planter. However, he was not able to complete prescriptive application over every acre. Orr could not upload prescriptions in his Case IH Pro 700 monitor on his own because technicians weren't available for in-person help because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"I really think it will revolutionize how we look at in-furrow applications," Orr says. "I expected some hiccups being new. You have to be careful how you place cartridges in to let product flow ... but they were easy to handle even at the end of the day."

SYSTEM SIMPLICITY

SIMPAS is designed to provide a safe, efficient and economical way to apply crop inputs in-furrow. All products are contained in plug-and-play containers to prevent exposure to dust and spills. The system can be attached to almost any planter. In Orr's case, it was a 12-row Case IH 1250.

Any ISO-based (International Organization for Standardization) display with robust processing capabilities and precision/prescriptive software can be used. Planting prescriptions are uploaded in the display, which controls the application rate of each product through a metering system. It's similar to the way an inkjet printer turns cartridges on and off to print.

SIMPAS will autoload product information into the system by reading an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip on each SmartCartridge. The chip also keeps track of product use while planting and after the cartridge is removed. Retailers scan the returned cartridge's chip, which tells how much product is left. Farmers only pay for what they use. That's a big deal in today's farm economy, Orr states.

"The beauty of the SIMPAS system is cartridges don't have to be empty when they go back, so it's easy to time switching cartridges with seed and liquid fertilizer fills," Orr says. "That really speeds things up and saves money. There will also be a savings treating individual areas rather than every acre."

He adds the cost for applying Aztec HC for rootworm control is about $22 per acre.

EXPANSION POTENTIAL

Besides Iowa, growers in Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska tested SIMPAS this spring over 10,000 acres. Participating retailers will fill containers with products from AMVAC and other companies such as Nutrien Ag Solutions and Helena Agri-Enterprises, among others.

"We are in discussion with multiple companies to build and broaden our portfolio of AMVAC brand and other brand products," says Jim Lappin, director of the SIMPAS portfolio. "Growers like options."

Trimble, which will sell and service SIMPAS equipment and hardware, had not released prices at press time.

Kevin Barkow, global director of strategic products for Trimble, says the system tested will be very close to the commercial version. Some "tweaks" are being made, such as user interface improvements, thanks to farmer feedback.

> Follow Matthew Wilde on Twitter @progressivwilde

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

> SIMPAS: www.simpas.com

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