Precision Potatoes

An Interview with Andrew Mickelsen

Few things are as iconic to Idaho as the potato, and if you farm potatoes, you can count yourself among the many individuals that contribute towards Idaho’s growth in culture. Andrew Mickelsen of Mickelsen Farms does just that, and we sat down with him at his farm to hear his thoughts on how Precision Ag can help growers like him, and what could be improved further to help farmers get the highest yield possible.

We really appreciate Valley Agronomics and everything they do to keep us going and make sure we have the right products we need when we need them. They do their best to ensure we have the best products at right time. Over the last several years we’ve seen a lot of advancements with technology in relation to ag – a lot of satellite imagery, GPS, and precision. Since this has happened it’s been a little challenging to find a balance between getting things done and mixing in the new tech. With Valley Ag we have been able to bring those things together such as satellite imagery, which allows us to look at our fields to see where problems are at and watch them more closely in order to fix them.

We see a lot of potential with using Ag World, and we’ve started using it within the last year. Ag World is a software that helps combine many things that we do and brings them into one spot. We see a lot of helpful things about Ag World, such as the reporting, reentry intervals, and keeping track of chemical records. As part of that, one of the things we need to have that would make Ag World successful for us is for it to become a one-stop-place as much as possible. We need to have it set up so that as soon as applicators put fertilizer on they can enter it in the program so that it saves us the step of having to collect invoices, add the invoices in, then tally up how much has been applied. We believe if we could see something like that, we could have real progress with Ag World and it could become a huge time-saver. As of right now, it’s still a very time-consuming process. We are hoping that as we get spreaders at Valley Agronomics and maybe third-party vendors to also put in these application records, that it will save more time as everyone combines the information into one spot.

Over the last year, as we got the Platinum Precision package from Valley Wide, we also had the MavRX satellite system. We were able to go over our images and see problems in our fields. One of the things I have noticed after the fact, is that we have a lot of greening in our spuds. Using the satellite imagery, I could see parts in the field that we needed to take care of. For one field in particular, we had half of it that we could have rolled earlier, and half of it we could have waited quite a bit later because it was really green. MavRX has really helped us with that sort of thing. Another time we were able to detect a plugged nozzle with the imagery, and upon discovering that we were able to fix that as well.

One of the things where MavRX helps us more is developing a way for growers to quickly see the information. We’re looking for a way in which to quickly look through and analyze the information and imageries and pointing problems out to growers. We’re doing everything we can just to get our operations done and we don’t have the time and resources to go and spend time looking at all the imagery to find the problems in each and every place. Whether it’s through software or having a person glance through the imagery and be able to tell the grower, for example, that a nozzle is plugged and then passing the ability to solve the problem on to the grower, I think we can find ways to bring the more important information to a farmer’s attention.
Overall, Precision Ag has helped Andrew Mickelsen get the most from his potato crop. As with any technology, things can always be improved, and we pride ourselves as a cooperative in listening to our growers to continue learning how we can better serve our customer base. Our goal is to help you maximize your crop yield, while improving the long term sustainability of your land and resources.

Learn more about the Platinum Precision subscription.

*Content edited from video/audio recording of the interview

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