Date: May 13, 2022
Magazine:
May/June 2022

From more than 75 locations nationally, RDO Equipment Co. is a leading supporter of agriculture’s move to a more technology-oriented future. It sells and supports agriculture, environmental, construction, surveying and irrigation equipment from leading manufacturers, including John Deere.

“There are 11 equipment stores in California plus three RDO Water locations along with eight stores in Arizona supporting the agriculture and construction needs of the West,” said Richard Arias, Vice President, Southwest Ag, for the company. “Our focus right now is on increasing the adoption of digital farming tools and techniques across the Southwest. We believe strongly that the way to ensure a productive, profitable, and sustainable agricultural industry is through the smart use of digital tools.”

As the company integrates technological solutions, Arias said it fully understands “that farming is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ undertaking and not every technology is suited for every farm.”

He added: “We also recognize that not every farm has the same level of technology experience and requires varying levels of support. At RDO, we are here to help our customers successfully adopt technology. We have a team of experts in precision agriculture to provide the technical, data analysis and agronomic support needed to fully leverage any investment our customers make in technology.”

Arias did point to several new advancements that truly meet the needs of specialty crop producers. He said Monosem planters are customized for each grower based on their crop needs and the real value they offer is that they maximize growers’ productivity through enhanced seed starts. Through the vacuum metering system, these planters deliver singular seeds and can do so with a variety of seed shapes and coating status. Mazzotti sprayers, he noted, are a perfect complement to the increased accuracy offered by the customized planters. These sprayers have proven to be particularly valuable to specialty crop growers who need smaller, lighter and more agile machines.

Arias added that the John Deere Operations Center is an online farm management system that collects and stores grower data so they can better understand not only their machines but also their farming practices. He said the center can help with choosing the right equipment based on engine load data including things like horsepower, slippage and fuel use.

He said the data gathered in the center offers the kind of insight that has been the missing piece for a long time. “We’re excited to bring this information to our customers, who can use it to make highly consequential decisions for their operations,” Arias said.

Speaking to RDO’s investment in the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, Arias said stakeholders in the industry “need to be working together so that the solutions we create are actually going to meet the needs of our farmers, and we want to be a key part of those conversations. When we are present, we learn more about what our customers need and how to best support them.”

RDO takes its responsibility to the industry seriously. “We need to be experts not only in the equipment but in the efficiencies created from digital farming,” Arias said, adding that it is the company’s job to be well-versed enough in the technology so that they can help growers use it to better farm.

“We are making significant investments to make sure we can help our customers with those technology transitions,” Arias said. “We currently have eight precision ag specialists in the Southwest alone and will be adding five more in the next year. Those specialists are helping our customers with every step of their process in setting up a digital farming operation.”

Arias continued: “When it comes to data collection and analysis, we will see more integration and insight coming out of those investments. Beyond technical insight, we will be able to mine data for agronomic and financial insight more regularly and easily. For example, we will be incorporating irrigation data into the picture. That means that valve controls, pump controls, filter controls and even well monitoring will all funnel into the online farm management platform.”

Taking a look at ag technology from the 40,000-foot level, Arias articulated RDO’s view. “We are seeing the continued evolution of farming in response to changing conditions,” he said. “First, we are in the midst of this transformation to digital farming, which will bring the advantages of mobile technology and data analytics to growers. Right behind that, we will likely see the availability and adoption of autonomous tractors because there’s no grower I know who isn’t dealing with labor issues. No one sees that situation improving so there is already a lot of excitement around these automated vehicles. All of these stages of evolution are related—we have to use the insights from digital farming to best use autonomous vehicles and, eventually, electric equipment.”

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