He says he has not been disappointed.

"There was a slight learning curve, but as we go along, I think we'll find it easier to use."

Madaris says the technology is especially well suited to work on operations such as his, in which more than one person is involved with the applications.

"We have one applicator who works from 8 to 5, and I like running in the evening, so it was very easy to follow up right behind him and know where he was," he says.

He sees convenience as a big plus too.

"It takes out a lot of the fatigue when you're spraying litter because you don't have to watch the tracks so much," Madaris says. "For me personally, it's a lot more comfortable to run, and I don't have to concentrate on it as hard.

"Stop at lunch or stop one day and start the next — you know right where you are."                 


How well this approach would work with other cattle operations depends on the size and special needs, Madaris says, adding that the likely best candidates would be farms that already are considering equipment replacements.

"I think any producer considering replacing foam markers or buying a new piece of equipment could put that cost toward purchase of a GPS system," he says.

Amy Winstead, a precision agricultural Extension agent who assisted Kelley with the effort, says she's seeing a growing interest in the technology among cattle producers throughout the state.

"We're seeing the same level of interest we saw among row-crop producers roughly five years ago," she says, adding that with precision farming technologies coming down in price, more producers are able to adopt the technology, especially what she describes as "entry level guidance equipment."