Universal Rate Control Makes Life Easier

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This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of CropLife magazine.

By Robin Siktberg, Custom Content Editor, Meister Media Worldwide

There are multiple reasons why precise rate control — whether of herbicides, nutrients and even seeds — is so important today. Just to name a few: overfertilization leads to wasted input cost, nitrogen run-off, and sometimes reduced yield; imprecise herbicide application can cause weed resistance or lack of weed control; over- or under-planting seed can be wasteful, reduce yield, or both.

There are many tools to help growers to be on target with all their applications. Keeping track of all of them can be a headache in itself. The Raven Rate Control Module (RCM) has made life a lot easier for Michael Schild, a farmer and Precision Ag Consultant at Titan Machinery in Cassleton, ND.

“The Raven RCM allows eight completely different machine set ups,” Schild says. “I can put the Raven RCM on an anhydrous rig and then move it to a dry spreader, then to a planter. It’s all ISO compatible, and there isn’t any extra wiring or programming you need to do.”

A Universal Remote

Think of the RCM as having one universal remote control that manages all the electronic devices in your house versus having multiple controls — one for each appliance. ISO compatibility means the RCM will connect easily to most ISOBUS displays in the cab, regardless of brand. The module is mobile and attaches to the machine with a magnetic mount. Each piece of equipment can have its own harness, and the RCM module just gets moved from place to place.

“For instance, a customer could have an air cart that he’s using with a drill, or an NH3 toolbar, or a pull-behind air sprayer; each of these would already have the ISOBUS product cable, and the RCM is unhooked from one machine and moved to the next. The profile for that particular application can be pre-loaded. All you need to do is connect, select the proper profile, and you’re ready to go,” says Colby Phillips, Account Manager for Raven.

“By using the RCM, which added sectional control to our 60-foot air drill, we were able to avoid overlapping our anhydrous application this year. You’re using less product and avoiding overfertilizing, which reduces quality, so in one year it more than paid for the RCM system,” Schild says.

Many Modes, Many Machines

The RCM offers flexibility in other ways, too. Schild says he has been able to apply up to five products at once. This includes anhydrous ammonia, two additional dry/liquid products, plus a Sidekick Pro ICD injection pump with nitrogen stabilizer, all with variable rate control managed by the RCM. It all ties to the same screen, so there is no need to change screens, which most applicators really appreciate, Schild says.

“The Raven Sidekick Pro™ ICD for instance, directly communicates with the RCM when applying nitrogen stabilizer alongside the Raven AccuFlow™ Vortex, which is applying the anhydrous,” Phillips says. “The Sidekick Pro has its own particular settings, but with the RCM, these settings are controlled in the background. The only setting the operator must enter for the Sidekick Pro is the rate per acre. The RCM controls the rate of both the NH3 and the nitrogen stabilizer so the rates aren’t under- or over-applied. Not only can the RCM control multiple variable rate applications, it is extremely accurate. So why use another product node to do that?”

While this is an example of all-Raven equipment, Schild stresses that not everyone uses all the same brand of machines.

“The compatibility of the Raven RCM is one of it’s best features,” Shild says. “Not everyone is one color — a lot of our customers use multiple colors of equipment. The RCM can go from machine to machine without any stress — that’s a huge advantage. When I talk to customers at Titan Machinery, I take a broad view of their operations —what they do, what they grow — and look for areas where I can improve their operation and help them make more money. You can really create efficiencies with this.”

Efficiencies Are Key Advantage

This year, with it’s short and challenging planting season in the Midwest, those efficiencies came in handy, Phillips says.

“In our customer region, we had snow on the ground in the northern areas and flooding in the southern ones,” Phillips says. “We didn’t get a lot of time to apply nitrogen. If you’re efficient with anhydrous ammonia and reducing overlap, you won’t need to change tanks as often. It may not seem like a lot at the end of the day, but at the end of the application season, it saves a day or two, and when you’re on a short schedule, a day or two means a lot.”

Another efficiency is since the RCM is designed to be mobile, the cost can be spread between machines.

“Instead of spending a couple of thousand dollars on every single application tool, we can put the the harnessing on the machine and just move the module and load the profile,” Schild says.”As a Case IH dealership we also have access to other ISO controllers, which do a good job, but my personal preference is with the Raven RCM because of the compatibility and versatility. And the Raven tech support has been excellent, which really makes me confident in suggesting it to our customers.”