By Garth Massie, Corporate Agronomist, Morris Industries Ltd.
Connecting with and learning from our farm customers are the best parts of my job. Morris was founded on the importance of listening to the farmer and that continues today. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with our farm customers about Morris Input Control Technology™ (ICT). We surveyed our customers specifically to quantify the crop input saving they were observing with ICT, but our learning outcome went well beyond this.
Morris introduced the ICT system to the fields of Western Canada five years ago. Since that time, we have continuously improved this technology in terms of ease-of-use, performance and reliability. Managed by our Topcon X35 controller, ICT works with global positioning to prevent double seeding field areas that have already been planted. This is accomplished by shutting off spiral fluted metering wheels that meter seed and fertilizer to small sections of the air drill (often 8’ widths). The disengaged metering wheels stay primed with product, ensuring a seamless re-introduction of product into the seed row upon re-entering unseeded field areas.
Of course the number one reason for incorporating ICT technology is efficiency and cost saving driven. However, our customers also report reduced crop lodging, which has a positive impact on crop maturity, harvestability, grain yields and quality.
When I spoke with ICT customers, they unanimously stated that they experienced crop input savings. This was expected, but what level of savings did they observe? It turns out that our customers have an average crop input saving of 6.5%, with a range of 2-11%. Farmers at the low end of the range typically farm large square fields with a 1-2 mile seeding pass, while customers with higher savings report farming around sloughs, oil wells and non-rectangular fields caused by water runs, creeks and rivers.
Applying these survey numbers to typical crop input costs for wheat ($100/acre) and canola ($200/acre), the ICT generates savings of:
Wheat: $2 – $11/acre, with an average of $6.50/acre
Canola: $4 – $22/acre, with an average of $13/acre
There were some unanticipated learnings from the survey. I was very pleased (and a bit overwhelmed) by our customers’ high level of satisfaction with ICT and feedback that the technology was easy to use. The biggest barrier to farmers adopting this technology is the perceived level of complexity. In my opinion, if people realized that sectional control is easy to use and reliable, we would have almost full adoption based on the returns it provides.
I learn a great deal from my discussions with our farm customers. Listening to farmers has resulted in the introduction of difference making innovations like the ICT system. After all, in the words of our founder, George Morris: “I’ve always felt it’s important to listen to the farmer; he’s the one who knows what he wants.”
For over 10 years Garth Massie has worked for Morris Industries Ltd., developing farmer-inspired, superior technology both in Canada and for the global marketplace. A farmer himself, Garth and his family run a mixed farm operation 100 kilometers west of Saskatoon.