Planting Profits Show Notes > Getting the Equipment Ready with Justin Rettmann

Getting the Equipment Ready with Justin Rettmann

Mar 06, 2019


Stefanie W: Welcome to another episode of Planting Profits with Jesse Wiant, today we have Justin Rettmann.


Jesse Wiant: Thanks Stef. As she said, we've got one of our applicators on the podcast today. When we look at today's ag landscape, a fertilizer and chemical applications need to be timely and obviously made with care. Some of the time when the word fertilizer or chemical are heard .in today's world, it can be viewed as something negative; whether it's affecting bees or water quality or something to that extent. We wanted to bring Justin i today to talk about his job duties and the training, as well as the knowledge he's got that it takes to run the machines that he does run. Another topic we wanted to cover is just the calibration component, the prep work that goes into these machines in the off season. Then we'll finish up a with a little bit about technology that Justin's using in those machines. So let's start it off, thanks again Justin for joining us. Maybe give the listeners some background information on what you do and maybe how long have you been with UFC?


Justin R: Thanks. I've been with UFC for six years and before that I interned working in the fertilizer plant and when I got hired on full time I became an applicator. So I run floater in the spring, run sprayer in the summer, and run an anhydrous rig in the fall.


Jesse Wiant: So typically a spring season starts with fertilizer application, you kind of alluded to that, that you run a floater, maybe let's start there. Give us a, for anybody that's listening that maybe is not real familiar with agriculture or not familiar with what UFC is running from equipment standpoint, maybe give us an update I guess if you will on the machine you run, the color, that kind of thing.


Justin R: Sure. I run a 2015, Terragator. It's a three wheeler. It is a soil election, which means it can variable rate (VRT). It has six bins, has four main product bins, you want to call it, and then two micronutrient bins. So what soil election does is you can split products and people can get their fields soil sampled and it gives a prescription map that you can upload to our monitors and then you can put the amount of fertilizer on the part of the field where it is needed the most.


Jesse Wiant: So you said it's a 2015, so that's fairly new machine and by today's standards especially. With the costs and the technology involved in those machines, how do you prepare or maybe calibrate this machine on the off season to make sure that when it's go-time you're getting the correct rates in the right places.


Justin R: Yup. We calibrate as soon as we get it and anytime we make major changes such as tightening the web or something like that, it affects your calibration, we calibrate it again. In the winter we go through these things with a fine tooth comb. Any bearing that looks like it's going to go out or is out, we change. We take pins out, grease them, anti-seize them, and just go through them pretty heavily and just make sure that we don't have any downtime in the busy season.


Jesse Wiant: So I mean, obviously, things happen, right? Stuff breaks. I think like you say, doing this in the off season whether or not that bearings shot right? But if it looks like at the potential is there, but replacing it now makes more sense than trying to replace it when it is go-time out in the field.


Justin R:  Correct. Just try to minimize breakdowns. Like you said, you're always going to have them, but try to prevent them before they happen.


Jesse Wiant: So what's the boom size on your machine?


Justin R: 70 feet.


Jesse Wiant:  70 feet


Justin R: You can go half sections on these and that would, that's the only, how do you want to say it? Like breaking sections? Actual, yeah. Okay. That's just half boom. Yep.


Jesse Wiant:  So when you pull into a field say there's no prescription it's just a flat rate field. Maybe just run through like what you have to do before you start.


Justin R: Sure. So my machine is capable of doing a blend, we call it all your P K N mixed together, and you get loaded underneath the truck. You take a density of the product and the pounds per acre, the rate as we call it and you punch that into your monitor and start driving. Yeah. It sounds simple and It is, but the main thing of that is getting the density of your product. So making the fertilizer come out, so you don't want to come out way long or way short.


Jesse Wiant: Sure. So with a VRT field or looking at a prescription, I guess this is going to sound very naive, obviously I know the answer to this already, but in case somebody is listening, as you go across that field and get into the different management zones, are you physically in there changing the rates or how does that all work?


Justin R:  That's a good question. And No, I am not. The machine, the Monitor does that by itself. It pulls like I said earlier, you put separate products in each bin. So where it, you come across the map, the prescription and wherever calls for say it calls for a lot of DAP at one area, it'll pull more DAP out of whatever bin you have DAP in. More potash, more DAP and whatever. And it just does it automatically as you drive across a field. Wherever you hit your monitor and that's how smart these machines are that it does it by itself.


Jesse Wiant: Yeah. So to me that's a big thing. When we look at where today's economics are in ag, right? I mean nothing's very good. So if we can utilize variable rate technology to make sure that we're putting our N P and k in the spots that are going to pay us back, I mean that's huge. So like say the technology in these machines are really smart. It's almost kind of scary, right?


Justin R: Yes. And then that way you're not wasting fertilizer. You're putting it where it's needed and you're better quality spots. It's more fertilizer and say a field's not very fertile in one spot. And Yeah.


Jesse Wiant: So let's jump to your sprayer. What do you run there and model, color, that kind of thing?


Justin R:  I run a Case Patriot sprayer 44-40. It's a 2017. Has a 120 foot boom. It is an anniversary edition so it has a cool paint color, red with a little gray. Has a 1200 gallon tank. Has also what we call AIM command and it actually a newer version that has AIM flex. So what that means is that it shuts off individual nozzles. So there is zero overlap. It won't hurt any crop by spraying it double Your acres come out to a T, Exactly. Also you can control the pressure with this AIM command. So if you go around the field border in a field and you have a sensitive crop around it, you can put your pressure real low so it gives you bigger droplets so it's the spray is more stable. And then if you want better coverage, you can up your pressure can do that all from the cab, from your monitor. You don't have to go out and change tips.


Jesse Wiant:  So AIM Command..


Justin R:  And this is an AIM Flex. So AIM command is that does your pressure, you can set your pressure. AIM Flex is just an upgrade. So if you go around a corner, one boom is swinging faster than the other, it will spray more on that side and less on this side and individual shutoffs.


Jesse Wiant: So with the old AIM command system that was sections?


Justin R:  Yes.


Jesse Wiant:  Where this is now each each individual...


Justin R:  Yeah each individual nozzle so there are zero overlaps.


Jesse Wiant:  Wow I didn't know that. That's awesome.


Stefanie W:  So when did that change?


Justin R:  My sprayer would be the first one, so 2017. We had the one before that 2016. It used to be Bob Boehns and now Alex Portner drives it. And that's that section still, which is still better than nothing. It's still good and it helps eliminate overlap, but this gets you to a T.


Jesse Wiant:  I know the aftermarket PWM or the same system that you can outfit any sprayer with those are, I think those are actual individual nozzles like what you're talking now for shut off. I always thought that would make so much sense.


Justin R:  It does. It is so nice using that. You can strictly stay on the planter tracks one with 120 foot, boom it at lines up with that six row, eight row, 12 row, 16 row. So it helps for compaction reasons, getting stock when it's wet, you can stay where the planner drove and then you don't have your overlaps here. Your acres always come out, you don't waste product, you don't overfill, you don't have to overfill if the acres are correct.


Jesse Wiant: I didn't realize that. I thought it was still just regular AIM command. I didn't know it had changed anything.


Justin R: Yup. And Yeah, we have two with the AIM Flex and then one with the AIM command, so three the normal AIM Command.


Jesse Wiant:  So that's awesome.


Justin R:  Yeah.


Jesse Wiant:  Do you have like the secondary boom? Like if you've got to change nozzles?


Justin R: You can put that on there. I had them on there but I removed them.


Jesse Wiant: Okay.


Justin R: There was no need for that. You can turn off the AIM command. So the pulsating that's AIM command that allows you to do your pressure. You can turn that off and spray like a normal sprayer. I don't know why you ever would if you have that technology use it. I've never turned it off. I had no reason to. I do change tips when you spray for Dicamba.


Jesse Wiant: So you've got to do it manually then?


Justin R:  Yup. You got to physically go out and take the tip off and that yeah. They call for a bigger tip, bigger droplets for when you spray Dicamba. So that'd be the only time I change or if you go a higher rate the AIM command gives you a range. When you've set your pressure, it gives you a range from, say you're doing 40 PSI, it'll give you a range on your monitor, how fast you can drive. So like five to 15, if you want to go faster, you would have to turn up your pressure or going around a border in the field. Obviously you want to slow down so you can turn your pressure down.


Jesse Wiant: So like Justin alluded to, the AIM command system or a PWM pulse with modulation system can be outfitted on different sprayers now as an aftermarket add on. I guess with my experience with that whole system, from lessening your potential for drift for one is huge and then also like you say, being able to shut off each individual nozzle where you know your acres are going to be whatever the acres of the field are, right? You're not going to have nine extra acres because of overlap if it's a goofy shape field. So I think there's some real benefits to that. I think the other true benefit in my eyes is getting that active ingredient where it's intended to go. So like you say, if you're spraying near a sensitive crop with that pulsating action you don't run the risk of having a standard stream getting a gust of wind to move that active ingredient. I would say if you are out driving by a field and there's a red sprayer out there it's pretty easy to tell if it's got AIM command, just watch it and you can see, I mean, you can actually see the pulsating if the sun's just right, especially. So it's something kind of neat that the first time you see it, you kind of wonder like, does this guy know what he's doing out there in the field spraying? But it's very neat to see.


Justin R:  Yeah. And it pulsates so fast that it, there's no skips or anything. it has good coverage.


Jesse Wiant:  And that's probably been one of the biggest questions I've ever got on it. "It's pulsating well isn't it going to miss?" No, I mean it's like you say, it's pulsating so fast that you're not running the risk of having skip out there.


Stefanie W: What's the point of it pulsating?


Justin R: So you can, it allows you to change your pressure not dependent on your speed. Older sprayers the speed you drive determine your pressure. This you can change speeds, any speed, and your pressure will stay the same. So if you want to go slower around the corner, go faster on a straightaway, you're pressure stays the same, which eliminates draft. It doesn't increase your pressure. Increasing pressure creates finer droplets, which increased draft.


Jesse Wiant: So let's rotate to fall. So as a summer season finishes up, you're done spraying. I guess what's the focus in the fall? Do your on floater in the fall too?


Justin R:  I do, Yup. Anhydrous doesn't start until later, until the ground gets cold enough. So the first part of fall, I'm back in my floater mainly P and K in the early part because nitrogen doesn't go on until, like I said, until the ground gets colder and then I get put in an anhydrous rig.


Jesse Wiant: So what do you run in there?


Justin R:  I run a 40 foot chisel plow. I take my monitor out of my sprayer, Viper® 4, and I use that same monitor for anhydrous. So that's the latest technology, Viper® 4.


Jesse Wiant: So that's given you an as applied map as well, correct?


Justin R: That is correct. It's like an iPad. So it's accurate. It's up to-date. Some of our monitors don't do as applied maps and it gives you a nice clear picture.


Jesse Wiant: So I mean, just comparing it with some of the what we call the farmer bars, right? So it's the bars that UFC owns that we rent out for a farmer to pull their own bar. Basically they're just getting the rate controller and that's it. There's no monitor per se with that, except whatever they're running in their own tractors. So like you say it's a huge step up from what older anhydrous rigs used to run. So now you can see where you've applied. I hate to say it, but you know as was well as I do, you're applying a lot in the dark typically. So just the way the shorter hours in the fall go for daylight. So being able to know where you're at in that field's got to be huge too especially in the dark.


Justin R:  Absolutely. A lot of these fields, some of them you're not familiar with and new locations and you can look at your map and know where you're at. It does have the capability to VRT, variable rate. I have never done it, but I know it is capable so you can put nitrogen where it's needed.


Jesse Wiant:  I know a out of our Brownton location, the custom rig up there does a fair amount of variable rating just with the clientele in that area, it's pretty popular there. So it's nice to have the technology or the capability to be able to do that so we can make sure and help these growers not over apply nitrogen per se. What percentage of the anhydrous you put on do you think has N Serve with it?


Justin R: I would say 95%.


Jesse Wiant:  Okay. So pretty high.


Justin R: Quite a bit. It's very seldom you get some with without and that is direct inject. So we have a tank on our bars so we don't put it in the anhydrous tank. Which helps with rust and that kind of stuff. That really corrosive and rust in an anhydrous tank allows more chance to block up with your screen and we avoid that by just direct injecting it.


Jesse Wiant: The other thing I like about that is if you get to a field and whoever the salesperson is that has the ticket made, say they talk with the grower and there's adjustment on the nitrogen rate, being that the N Serve isn't in the tank you have the flexibility to adjust your rate up or down as needed or if needed, to keep that grower happy.


Justin R: That is correct. And I'm also had it where people have wanted to see the difference with N Serve and non N Serve and I have done half fields, so you do half the field with N serve and you just have the capability of shutting off and not having to go switch a tank without N serve and it just makes it more easier, liable.


Jesse Wiant: So technology plays a big part,in which whichever machine you're running through throughout the year. So like you say, the Viper® 4, very simple to use monitor, gives us a nice as applied map. What do you feel is important about those as applied maps? Or what information are you really gathering?


Justin R: I guess that it holds the applicator accountable for what they're doing out there. It tells the farmer exactly what the applicator is doing out there. It gives them the data that they want to see, what fertilizer, where it's going, your coverage map. You can see if there are, don't want to say this, but skips. If there is a yellow spot in the corn, you can look back at the as applied map and well he applied there, so we got to see what else may be caused the problem or something.


Jesse Wiant:  So to me, I kinda look at them as a, let's kind of like a harvest map you get from a combine, or yield map, right? It's kind of a report card of or summary of what happened in the field. Here's what was intended, here's what actually happened. I mean, 95% of the time, those overlap anyways, right? I mean the technology's given us the ability to take those maps and give it to the grower so that they know what we're billing them for basically is what we did. So that's where I feel like those maps really have a play. Is there any other technologies that you utilize whether it's on an iPad or something else?


Justin R: We did just come up with a new program. There are iPads for each applicator. So it helps with dispatching purposes, not necessarily for our sake, but for the dispatcher themselves. It helps with floaters crossing paths, gives more fields in one area, less drive time. So hopefully you're more efficient. Other than that, I think I've kind of talked about all of the technology. I'm sure there's more out there that I'm missing.


Jesse Wiant:   I guess one thing I would add to our EDGE program or software is that from my standpoint, right? Like for variable rate, especially, where we can put the files out there and then they're basically you're just pulling them off of your iPad in your cab instead of running out a thumb drive to the floater.


Justin R: Which is what we had to do in the old days and he had to worry about that thumb drive. And now you can, you have it all right at your hands on this iPad and you can get it right off there, put it on your monitor and your prescription map is right there and it...


Jesse Wiant: speeds up the whole whole process.


Justin R: More efficient like we talked about.


Stefanie W:  What's your favorite rig to run?


Justin R:  I would say anhydrous. It's a good question. I enjoy all of them.


Jesse Wiant:  Why Anhydrous?


Stefanie W:  Probably because you get to run a tractor. Long hours though, wears on a person, but like I said, I have fun doing all of them. If I had to choose one I would do anhydrous. Who doesn't like running a brand new tractor?


Jesse Wiant: Yeah that's what I was gonna say, that would be nice to get in something brand new every year to try out.


Justin R: Yup.


Jesse Wiant: So thanks Justin for coming in today. We buzzed through a lot of different topics. Appreciate your time. Very valuable information just to know what it takes to run a machine here at UFC and do it with accuracy. And like I say that to have the knowledge that you do to be able to get in to three different machines a year and be able to know how to run them all is pretty awesome. So thanks again.


Justin R: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
 
 


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