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Farmer Builds High-Tech Tools, Saves Big Money
Iowa farmer Jim Poyzer uses his 30+ years of computer programming experience to build low-cost technology equipment for his farm at a fraction of what it would cost new.
    For example, he built a seed meter test stand that evolved into a sophisticated planter monitor. His soil sampling is done using a phone app he designed to show him where to take samples on a 2 1/2-acre grid. And lately he’s been working on an ultra-accurate RTK guidance system that will cost only about $700 in parts compared to more than $15,000 for a new one. He’ll use it to plant over fertilizer that has been strip-tilled in the fall.
    Says Poyzer, “Poverty is the mother of invention. If you aren’t a big farmer, you’ve got to use tools that don’t require spending big bucks. I’m building apps, monitors, GPS equipment, and more. It all works with the smaller equipment that I can afford.”
    The key to Poyzer’s success is open source software and his knowledge of the internet. He builds hardware that uses sensors, actuators and other electronic equipment to monitor and operate on data such as seed population, soil types, and yields.    
    His farming odyssey began when he turned 60 and bought a 180-acre farm, a small tractor, tillage equipment, and a planter. “I was reliving the joys of my youth on an Iowa farm, but technology was 40 years ahead of me,” Poyzer says. He soon realized he could produce his own electronic equipment.
    He used a microprocessor and about $300 in parts to build a monitor for a 40-year-old Deere 7000 planter. It calculated seed drop on all 8 rows simultaneously. He refined the system into a variable-rate planting controller that gives him the ability to lower seed population in poorer soils and save on seed costs. His solar-powered soil temperature and moisture probe sends data to his phone. He thinks that device might be useful to track growing degree days on his farm. Now he’s building a liquid fertilizer flow meter with data sent via Bluetooth to his planter monitor.
     “This is only my 9th year of farming and I’m still looking at it through the eyes of a computer programmer, but it sure is fun.” His website carries a thorough description of how he built each of his projects along with a FAQ section on how they work. He’s happy to share his work at no charge.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Poyzer, 610 N.W. Abbie Drive, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 (ph 515 210-1777; www.outfarming.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5