Power Equipment Australasia

BUSINESS Tech to Farm Looking back with the relief of having completed a successful harvest, third-generation New South Wales farmer, Broden Holland, is adamant the 2023 season would not have been as profitable without the efficiency delivered by precision agriculture technology. “I honestly don’t think we could live without it,” Broden, who farms alongside his partner Jess, and parents Chris and Kelly, at Koolpari Enterprises, said the day after the final row of 4,300 hectares of wheat and canola had been taken off. “The John Deere Operations Center mobile app is probably the most opened on my phone, and everything that happens in the paddock goes straight to Ops Center. “Having all of that data right there in your phone is just unreal.” The Holland family has been farming since the 1960s, however it was in 2020 that they committed to a fully connected farming system when they converted almost their entire fleet to John Deere, in search of greater Precision Agriculture capabilities. Today, that fleet includes an 8R 340 Tractor, a 9520R Tractor, two John Deere X9 1000 Combine Harvesters, John Deere 4240, 4440 and 4640 Tractors, a John Deere Windrower and John Deere N560 No-Till Air Drill, to support the Koolpari operation which also includes 6,000 Merino wethers. One of the advantages of connectivity, from Broden’s perspective, is being able to see machine movements in near real-time. “Understanding where the machines are and their fuel levels is really handy, and this year we’ve even installed John Deere M Modems on our trucks – I think we’ll also put them on our telehandlers next season,” he said. “Throughout harvest, if I wasn’t in the header, I could look at my phone and see exactly what yield we were getting. Yield and other harvest information also comes from the headers back into Operations Center every five seconds.” The Hollands farm almost the entirety of their enterprise at full variable rate, so PA tools and connectivity is also integral to mapping for efficient herbicide and fertiliser application. GPS-based guidance and machine controls such as AutoTrac help to ensure the fleet can be consistently operated by Koolpari’s two full-time employees and team of seasonal staff, while Remote Display Access (RDA) means their dealer, Hutcheon and Pearce, can help with setup, optimisation and trouble shooting. “It’s made life easy, because if one person needs to jump off a tractor onto another, everything is set up the same,” Broden said. “There’s been a couple of instances over the past couple of years where Dad or I weren’t home and we’ve had other people on the machines. Having RDA and being able to coach someone while I was 400 kilometres away really proved to be priceless. “Our entire team has the app on their phone and we use the flag system a lot, so if there is a bog hole or a noxious weed that needs treating everyone knows. ” The jewel in the crown of the Koolpari Enterprises harvest fleet was the two X9 1000 Combine Harvesters which arrived in June this year and were ordered after Broden was “blown away” at two local demonstration days. Together they powered through both the canola and wheat crops. “It was a bit of a tough year as we had just 370mm of rain, however our canola still yielded an average 2.2 tonne per hectare and our wheat 4.7 tonne per hectare,” he said. “When it came time to harvest, both crops had suffered some frost damage meaning there was a lot of material that went through the header, and we were operating right on the limit of moisture. “We put a lot of bulk through, but never had trouble with our sample and our losses were always minimal, which was awesome.” In the canola, Broden estimated the X9s achieved 30 to 40% more capacity than a John Deere S780 or similar competitor machine, taking off up to 32t/hour, despite the bulky conditions. For the wheat crop, the machines averaged 42t/ hour, and up to 55t/hour in some paddocks, and needed to handle tougher threshing due to the frost damage that had been incurred earlier in the season. “On our best day, we stripped 1,800 tonnes in 23 hours, all at 13.5% moisture, and filled up with fuel only once,” Broden said. “The highest speed we reached was 12 kilometres per hour, and we dipped down to six kilometres per hour only once when the conditions were as tough as nails. The consistency of these machines was one of the best parts of the harvest.” The added capacity delivered by the X Series proved its worth almost immediately. “We were getting to the point where we needed to either run two shifts with the two headers we previously had or go to three machines to start getting crops off more quickly, because we live in an area that seems to always attract storms at harvest. Our entire year comes down to these four weeks,” Broden said. The two X9s made the most sense as an alternative and eliminated the need for the Hollands to call in additional contract machines. “This year, we did the entire harvest ourselves with our two headers, but every other year we’ve had to bring someone in,” he said. “Plus, we now have the added benefit of having great yield maps and all our data flowed seamlessly throughout the season.” Connectivity and capacity have paid dividends for a third-generation farmer using Precision Agriculture technology this harvest season 28 | POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA | MARCH - APRIL 2024