Hand-Harvested is now Precision Harvested with John Deere

Laura McNamara

rjohnson01a.jpgTracking labor performance and product quality now comes at the touch of a button… or the flash of a scan rather. The all-in-one Labor Performance and Product Quality Management Systems, one of the newest products from John Deere Agri Services, boasts unmatched data collection for hand-harvested crops. The hand-held device measures crew output and productivity, harvest performance, and crop quality, quantity, location, attributes and more through the use of barcodes on worker IDs, RFID tags and GPS field location. All information and data is then instantly uploaded to a specialized website accessed through unique user and password information. John Deere says the bottom line is, the device allows farmers to, well, increase their bottom lines by giving them more control and manageability over production and workers alike.

I spoke with Richard Johnson (pictured left), the National Account Manager of Production and John Deere Agri Services about the Labor Performance and Product Quality Management Systems. You can listen to my interview with Richard here:
Listen to MP3 file Richard Johnson Interview Interview (7 min. mp3)

Global Discussion on Precision in Denver

Laura McNamara

preag.JPGExperts from around the world are gathering in Denver, CO this week. The 9th annual Precision Ag Conference officially kicked off today with it’s welcoming reception. The conference will continue through Wednesday, July 23rd. Experts from around the globe will be presenting the latest techniques in precision farming technology. During the reception this evening, I spoke with precision experts from South Africa, India and Egypt. So far, the general idea seems to be that the U.S. is the leader in developing precision technology while the rest of the world puts it to use. We’ll see if that’s really the case.

I’ll be covering the conference in Denver this week. Updates will be posted on precision.agwired.com, and most of the content will be used for continued posting on the precision ag Website.

I must say, the reception on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency boasted spectacular views of the Rockies. A few of us couldn’t tear ourselves away from the stunning sunset over the mountains and foothills.

Precision comes to Denver

Laura McNamara

preag.JPGDenver, Colorado is the place to be to learn more about Precision Ag this weekend. I’ll be attending the conference to learn the latest in precision technology. The 9th International Conference on Precision Agriculture (ICPA) is being held at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center in Denver, Colorado July 20–23, 2008.

The ICPA has embarked on a new journey. After about 16 years in Minnesota, the Conference is moving to a new location. The mile-high city of Denver is excited to host the next ICPA Conference in its technological hub “The Denver Tech Center.”

The 9th International Conference on Precision Agriculture is envisaged to be the largest ever; with more than 500 attendees from all over the United States and 35 countries. The summer month of July is a gorgeous time of the year to be in beautiful Colorado. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountain National Park on the West to the Great Plains on the East, Denver is nestled in the heart of the USA.

Check back here throughout the weekend for updates. I will also be gathering information to use for later posts.

California College Breaks Ground On Center for the Future of Ag

Laura McNamara

Western Farm PressCollege students in Salinas, CA will soon have a fresh, new laboratory for agricultural study. Western Farm Press reports that Hartnell College has broken ground on its new Center for Applied Technology. The 40,000-square-foot, $23 million facility will house the college’s Agricultural and Business Technology Institute along with other career and technical education programs.

“We need to make sure that in addition to the world’s biggest fresh garden that we are the world’s freshest laboratory,” said Dennis Donohue, Salinas mayor, at the groundbreaking. “That will take place here.”

The new facility illustrates Hartnell’s commitment to the fact that agriculture is the economic backbone of the community, said Jim Bogart, co-chair of Hartnell College’s ag steering committee.

“We are committing resources and industry expertise into the facility and its agricultural curriculum because there’s a future in agriculture,” Bogart said.

Click here to read the entire article.

Auto-Steer a Precision Favorite

Laura McNamara

inpf.pngFarmers are touting auto-steer technology among the best of precision farming applications. The Indiana Prairie Farmer reports that the farmers reporters spoke with during farm management tour stops stressed auto-steer capabilities as priceless.

In fact, statements like “I wouldn’t let you take it away from me” flowed freely during tour interviews. Besides the tangible benefits, including saving from overlap and spraying more precisely, the benefit that it’s not possible to put a dollar sign on came up quite often.

That’s how freeing yourself from doing the driving and concentrating on rows or markers leaves you much fresher late in the day. How you measure not being so tired in terms of dollars and cents is a factor even ag economists haven’t conquered yet, but farmers insist it’s real and that it’s important. And the older the farmer running it, like a parent or grandparent, the more important that factor becomes, they note…

It was auto-steering that kept coming back as the most favorite technology at the tour. Some folks still use the free WAAS signal, but those serious about using it for precise operations, like planting, are either using a satellite subscription signal or obtaining an RTK signal. Precision Partners, a technology firm located near Flat Rock, now ahs a series of stations mounted on various towers that broadcast RTK signals. For a fee they allow customers to pick up the signal and use it for guidance.

Click here
to read the entire article.

Purdue Prepares for Precision at Annual Workshop

Laura McNamara

41st Top Farmer Crop WorkshopPurdue is preparing for its 41st Top Farmer Crop Workshop this month. The workshop, which will be held July 20 – 23, is focusing on the future of farming and the ever-evolving ag industry. Speakers on a wide array of farming topics are sure to address precision technology as they delve into today’s modern farming techniques.

John Deere, specifically, will be addressing precision automation technology in the More Automation – More Work Accomplished breakout session Monday evening. Jamie Bultemeier and Andrea Grube will explain how farmers can “do more, and to do it faster and better!” A field demonstration will follow the informational session.

Wednesday will feature a look at robotic farming. Simon Blackmore, Project Manager of FutureFarm Europe and Director, UniBots Ltd Simon will present How Feasible is Robotic Agriculture?.

Simon has a worldwide reputation in developing intelligent machines and processes for crop production, and now he is running EU’s farm of tomorrow. With guidance, advanced monitoring and precision control systems becoming commonplace on farm equipment, what next steps will automation tackle in improving production or efficiency?

Click here to find out more about the event.

John Deere Precision Equipment Exemplary for TV

Laura McNamara

WHNT NewsChannel 19A local television station out of Huntsville, Alabama has highlighted the changing face of agriculture on its daily newscast. WHNT NewsChannel 19 has recently featured farmers who are learning more about precision technology. WHNT found that farmers are calling traditional farming “a thing of the past.” Plus, they’re calling John Deere equipment “the perfect example” of cutting-edge farming technology.

“When people think of farming, they think of sweating out there,” says Ben Smith.

Smith is an Agricultural Management Specialist for Trigreen Equipment and says the idea most people have of traditional farming is a thing of the past.

The newest model of the John Deere tractor is the perfect example. It’s equipped with RTK, real time kinematic, technology.

It works by GPS satellite, so farmers can plant, spray, and harvest their crops, and the whole time just sit back while it drives itself on routes specifically programmed for the field. The accuracy is less than an inch.

“This is the most accurate you can get,” says Smith.

The tractor can pinpoint locations close enough to hit a golf ball. Smith says technology like this is becoming almost necessary.

“With the rising chemical and fuel costs that we have now and seed costs, we want to get more accurate,” says Smith. “If we can plant in the same place year after year, using the same route systems, then it will make our yields a whole lot better.”

Click here to find out what more farmers think about precision agriculture.

Precision Technology Promotes Sustainable Farming

Laura McNamara

HealthNewsDigestThe population of conscious eaters is growing and more people are seeking foods produced from sustainable means. The HealthNewsDigest reports that precision agriculture is one of those sought after means of sustainable production. And, perhaps, a key tool in combating world hunger.

Sustainable agriculture — a term equated with organic farming less than a decade ago, may be the answer to the world’s future food challenge. Sustainable agriculture is neither energy-intensive industrialized farming, nor organic farming, but more a hybrid of the two that is highly productive and does not damage the environment.

Drawing on both industrial and organic farming methods, sustainable agriculture incorporates precision farming methods – super-efficient energy usage, water conservation, biological pest control, genetic modifications for qualities that improve nutritional value and drought resistance, and cultured meat – steak in a Petri dish. In the future organic products will become a subset of sustainable agriculture…

Advanced sustainable agriculture uses many of the standard applications of organic farming such as crop rotation, cover crops to reduce the need for fertilizer, and biological-control techniques in place of pesticides. But it goes further, using new super-efficient, precision agricultural tools and cutting edge technology. For example, drip irrigation systems linked to soil sensors to irrigate only when and where needed; satellite information and computer programs designed to detect evidence of pest damage; and wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies.

Click here to read more.

Alabama Hosts Precision Ag Field Day

Laura McNamara

Southeast Farm ProgressThe tricks, technology, tools and trades of precision farming will be discussed and demonstrated in the field this week. Isbell Farms in northwest Alabama is hosting a precision agriculture field day for farmers and growers. Southeast Farm Progress reports that the field day will be held July 10th at the farm near Cherokee in Colbert County. Activities will begin at 8:30 a.m.

The field day will feature many of the cutting-edge approaches associated with precision agriculture, a GPS-based farming technology that enables farmers to plant, spray and harvest their crops with pinpoint accuracy — an approach that has led to substantial farm savings.

Concurrent tours running through the morning will highlight several precision agricultural research projects. These will include variable-rate irrigation and seeding demonstrations as well as research dealing with the spatial variability of nematodes in cropland.

But the field day will not be limited to precision farming techniques. In addition to providing a crop update, experts will discuss weed and nitrogen management with conservation-tillage and also will present several variety plots.

Vendors will be on hand to present and discuss some of the latest advances in precision farming equipment.

Certified crop adviser points also will be offered.

Click here to read more about the event.

Sharper Satellite Technology Means More Smart Data For Farmers

Laura McNamara

sat.pngPictures and sensors from outer space are getting clearer and that means more finite and precise technology for farmers. The Satellite Imaging Corporation says satellite technology can be used to detect field fertility, measure water usage and more.

Satellite sensors acquiring high and medium resolution image data, combined with specialized software algorithms are used for various applications in agriculture to improve crop production. Scheduling and timing for the acquisition of satellite image data is very important for agriculture management to take important decisions supporting a successful crop season.

…With the availability of high resolution satellite sensors such as IKONOS, QuickBird and soon GeoEye-1, the current remote sensing NDVI algorithms utilized have become more accurate and reliable, providing detailed crop information for agriculture management to improve production and crop health.

…Agriculture resources are among the most important renewable, dynamic natural resources. Comprehensive, reliable and timely information on agricultural resources is very much necessary for countries whose main source of the economy is agriculture.

Satellite images can show variations in organic matter and drainage patterns. Soils higher in organic matter can be differentiated from lighter sandier soil that has a lower organic matter content. “Satellite image data have the potential to provide real-time analysis for large areas of attributes of a growing crop that can assist in making timely management decisions that affect the outcome of the current crop” said Leopold J. Romeijn, President of Satellite Imaging Corporation of Houston, Texas.

Click here to view the entire release.