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New, expanded Precision Planting facility in Morton could lead to more hiring

 A rendering of Precision Planting's planned operations center expansion in Morton.
Precision Planting
A rendering of Precision Planting's planned operations center expansion in Morton.

Headquartered in Tremont since being founded by Greg and Cindy Sauder back in 1993, Precision Planting has grown into a corporate-owned, international company specializing in precision farming equipment.

What exactly is precision farming? According to the International Society of Precision Agriculture, “Precision agriculture is a management strategy that gathers, processes and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production.”

In other words, it’s about achieving greater yield through cutting-edge technology that can limit resource use and improve the environment. Precision agriculture is a big, competitive market, with $2.8 billion invested in ag-tech startups in 2019 alone. In 2020, agricultural equipment giant AGCO-- the owner of Precision Planting since 2017-- was recognized as one of the top players in the precision agriculture market by NASDAQ.com.

Much of the precision agriculture equipment made by Precision Planting and used by farmers worldwide has been tested, assembled and packaged in a factory at the corner of Morton’s Birchwood and Erie Streets since 2014. With business booming in the precision agriculture market, ground will soon be broken on a new, 500,000 square foot factory near the confluence of Interstates 74 and 155. Along with more floor space and better interstate access, the larger building will also allow for more hiring to take place at the facility.

“This facility will be state-of-the-art, not only providing an improved customer experience, but also a workplace that our employees will look forward to coming to every day,” said Chuck Boyer, senior operations manager for Precision Planting.

According to Bryce Baker, marketing manager, Precision Planting’s ascent in the world of precision agriculture serves as a shining example of the Great American Success Story.

“The company originally started with a meter tester for corn and soybean planters. It verified that only one kernel or seed went from the hopper into the ground at a time,” said Baker, who has been employed by Precision Planting for around 13 years. “By 2008 we were really getting into electronics and growing our engineering team. Today we have a product line that is focused on more than planters, so a lot of products to help farmers improve the equipment they already own-- planters, combines and yield monitors, air seeders and fertilizer applicators, and later this year we’ll be getting into sprayers.”

By retrofitting farmers’ existing machinery, Precision Planting’s products are designed to extend the life and usefulness of older equipment without the expense of purchasing new tractors, combines or field implements. “Adding our equipment improves how they’re machinery works, and ultimately their outcomes of yield and profitability,” said Baker.

The importance of precision agriculture products such as those manufactured by Precision Planting to the environment was recently defined by the World Economic Forum, which concluded that if just 15 percent to 25 percent of farms were to adopt precision agriculture techniques, global crop yield would increase by 10 percent to 15 percent by 2030.

At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions and water use would be reduced by 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Agco and Precision Planting are poised to be international industry leaders in supplying farmers around the globe with the technology and products to achieve these goals.

“The need for this new facility is our continued growth and expansion of our products, our dealers and our ability to help farmers,” Baker said. “As we have continued to grow, we’ve had to add a few other warehouses in the area, and it’s time to build a home that can be ours going forward from an operations perspective.”

Morton Mayor Jeff Kaufman said he was excited to hear about Precision Planting’s expansion plans, and welcomes the increased tax revenue and employment opportunities the new facility will provide.

“It’s been a privilege to work with Precision Planting during the planning process for the development of this new facility,” said Kaufman. “This new operations facility will help sustain the quality of life in Morton with new and retained jobs and new property taxes that are vital for our community. A lot of work has been done so that the infrastructure is in place to support both Precision Planting and future development in this area of Morton.”

According to rocketreach.com, as a subsidiary of AGCO Precision Planting employs around 250 people and reports revenue of around $158 million. It is anchored by a network of more than 400 dealerships that provide technologies to agricultural equipment manufacturers around the world.

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Tim Alexander is a correspondent for WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.