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“I can’t justify that, it just won’t pay”

The title of this post is a comment that I heard from a customer of mine this week, when we were discussing an auto steer system for his new tractor.  My response was, “Let’s look at the numbers, and make sure that it is a good investment for your operation.”

So he shared some numbers from his operation, and I went to work determined to show him that it would be a good investment as I had previously indicated to him.  A quick Google search of Precision Ag ROI calculators or auto steer payback will come up with several good articles and results, and I decided to show two different sets of numbers to my customer.

The first number I came up with was in an article written by the University of Kentucky, and appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics.  You can find the article HERE.  It is a very in-depth analysis, but is summed up well in the first paragraph, stating a $3.35 per acre return by implementing auto steer.

The second number I came up with was catered to their specific operation, using an online calculator put together by Kansas State University.  It can be found HERE.  This calculator is quite comprehensive, and allows for many different variables to be included.  This calculator, using the numbers that the customer provided me, figured a $3.18 per acre return by implementing auto steer, making the system show an ROI in just slightly over 2 years for this customer’s operation.  You can see the results below.

This is definitely something to be looking into in EVERY operation out there.  In addition to the finincial payback that is listed above, there is also many other benefits of auto steer that are very hard to put a dollar figure on, like reduced operator fatigue.  2012 will start my 5th year with auto steer, and I can’t even imagine farming without it at this point.  This cartoon sums up a lot of things after you have ran one!

Here is a picture of a system running on my farm.  Notice that the field was ran every other pass, and now is being filled in. This allows for quicker turn arounds on the ends of the field.

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