It’s not unusual to find the latest technology powering equipment on Kansas farmland… but it is unique to find a 101-year-old behind the controls.
Loyd Ratts is a life-long farmer who has lived through many changes on his family’s Stafford County farm. He reminisces about the early days – when horses pulled the plows and steam powered the threshers.
“I did my first farm job at four and really got into farming when I was about ten-years-old,” Ratts said. “I farmed with horses until I graduated from high school. Moving from horse-powered farming to tractors was a huge change.”
An irrigator since 1973, Ratts has welcomed the evolving technologies that have made his systems more efficient.
“At first, we had to move the flood irrigation pipes by hand – that was hard work. Then we moved them with tractors,” he said. “When pivots came out… that was a big improvement.”
When he lost his pivot to a storm about two years ago, Ratts asked Jason Wood and the team at 96 Agri Sales to replace it with the best technology on the market. They installed a new Zimmatic pivot and equipped it with FieldNET® by Lindsay. With FieldNET technology and a smartphone or laptop, Ratts is able to remotely monitor and control his entire system – which he says saves water, labor and fuel.
“I can control the irrigation system from anywhere in the world,” he said. “I just bring up the app, put in a couple of commands, and I can see exactly what my pivot is doing. I can turn the pivot off if it’s raining. If there’s wind in the forecast, I can add water to the lines to give it more weight. I can do that from my chair, from my home or from hundreds of miles away.”
Ratts also relies on FieldNET to send him up-to-the-minute alerts if the pivot gets stuck, stops moving or experiences other performance issues.
“There were many times that the system would get stuck and I had no way of knowing it, so I would lose 24 – 48 hours of irrigation when the crops desperately needed it,” Ratts said. “With FieldNET, if something happens, it sends a notice to me, and I can correct it right away. I don’t lose any hours of irrigation.”
While Ratts plans to retire this year, he plans to remain actively engaged in his operation that grows wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum and sunflowers.
“I like the independence – being able to be my own boss and doing a job that needs to be done,” he said. “The best thing about FieldNET is the assurance that the system is doing the job that needs to be done and being able to do it from my chair in the house instead of out in the mud. I would absolutely recommend FieldNET to others.”