Use Yield Monitor to Map ACRE Program Yields?

Kurt Lawton

Insights WeeklyIf you signed up for the ACRE program, you know that payments will be issued when two conditions are met for a commodity. Condition one: when actual state revenue falls below the state ACRE guarantee. Condition two: when the actual farm revenue falls below the farm ACRE guarantee.

Yield and moisture map

Yield and moisture map

So, can you use your yield monitor to provide annual acreage and production reports? Currently, no you cannot legally use your yield monitor and GPS-based yield/moisture map as proof of actual farm yield, because USDA-FSA have not recognized this technology as verifiable. Current rules are outlined in this 23-page USDA-FSA Notice DCP-215 document “Production Evidence for the ACRE Program.”

State FSA offices continue to work with Washington on changes to these rules. However, as more farmers provide yield maps—backed up with verifiable scale tickets to match that field—perhaps the FSA will begin to understand the validity of this technology.

To be eligible for ACRE payments, owners, operators, landlords, tenants, or sharecroppers must:
• have base acres on the farm;
• share in the risk of producing a crop on base acres on a farm enrolled in ACRE;
• annually report the use of the farm’s cropland acreage and submit production reports;
• comply with conservation and wetland protection requirements on all of their land;
• comply with planting flexibility requirements;
• use the base acres for agricultural or related activities; and
• protect all base acres from erosion, including providing sufficient cover as determined necessary by the county FSA committee, and control weeds.

Links to more information:

Official USDA-FSA Production Evidence document for ACRE Program (June 2009)
Check out AgWeb discussion board comments on ACRE program.
Texas A&M ACRE Info Page
ACRE Backgrounder
ACRE Will Likely Pay More Than the Traditional Alternative for Receiving Farm Commodity Payments, University of Illinois
Understanding ACRE: Its Revenue Guarantee, Ohio State University
Iowa State University ACRE Resources

Ag Leader, Farmers, Insights Weekly, Standards

Is COOL For Fuel Cool?

Chuck Zimmerman

General Wesley ClarkMany of you corn growers using precision technology are very aware of the challenges we’ve had in the ethanol business, especially battling groups with an agenda to distort facts and misinform the public. Growth Energy is a group that was formed to battle that problem on Capitol Hill.

Here at the Farm Progress Show, Gen. Wesley Clark, Growth Energy, announced a new initiative. The organization is calling for country of origin labeling for fuel. I would call that the “COOL for fuel” initiative! Hey, we do it with food, why not fuel?

General Wesley Clark, Co-Chairman of Growth Energy, today called on the United States Congress and the White House to take action to dramatically enhance the market transparency of the nation’s fuel supply by requiring a national standard of country of origin labeling (COOL) for fuel.

The Label My Fuel initiative would create a COOL standard similar to requirements already in place for common consumer items, including apples, beef, cars and coffee. The goal is to help create consumer awareness of the costs and national security implications of the nation’s addiction to foreign oil.

Clark also unveiled Growth Energy’s, which showcases the costs of American dependence on foreign oil, and serves to rally grassroots support for Congressional action on COOL for fuel legislation.

So what do you think about this initiative? Good idea?

You can listen to the press conference here: [audio:]

Farm Progress Show Photo Album coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Ag Group, Ag Leader, Audio, Corn, Ethanol, Events, Farm Progress Show

Argentina Farmers Adopting Precision Farming

Chuck Zimmerman

Ag Leader Technology BlimpIt’s easy to find Ag Leader Technology at the Farm Progress Show. Just look up and when you see the Ag Leader Blimp, you’re there. I have a number of photos from their exhibit in my online photo album.

While I visited the exhibit I got to speak to a couple of our international visitors from Argentina, Matias Abadie and Axel Von Martini. They are standing in the photo. Axel does research and brought a group of 72 farmers to the U.S. and their tour ends here at the show. Matias works as an Ag Leader dealer in Argentina.

International Visitors to Farm Progress ShowBoth of them echo what we’re seeing here at home and that is growing adoption of precision technology and for many of the same reasons as their American counterparts (reduce input costs for example). In fact, they make a point that we’re living in a global market so farmers around the world are sharing similar challenges.

They also make it clear that information is much more accessible than it used to be and the internet has really helped with that. I’ll bet they visit!

You can listen to my interview with them here: [audio:]

Farm Progress Show Photo Album coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Ag Leader, Audio, Farm Progress Show

Farm Progress Show Record Crowds

Chuck Zimmerman

Farm Progress ShowIt sounds like we’ve got a record breaking Farm Progress Show and to learn more about how it’s going I spoke with Jeff Lapin, President, Farm Progress Companies.

He says that opening day was record attendance and the streets have been full. Exhibitor feedback has been great. And of course this has to be some of the nicest weather we’ve had at a show in some time. Having permanent sites which have been improved so much with paved streets and exhibitors who have invested a lot in their exhibit areas also helps make for a unique and enjoyable atmosphere for attendees.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here: [audio:]

If you would like to see photos from the show please check out our Farm Progress Show Photo Album. I visited with our sponsor, Ag Leader Technology, and have several interviews to post for you in coming days. We should also have some video of the precision field demonstrations as well. So there’s more to come! coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Ag Leader, Audio, Farm Progress Show

Hemisphere Outback Now Compatible With Ag Leader Software

Kurt Lawton

Farmers using Hemisphere GPS Outback Guidance can now easily move field data into Ag Leader’s SMS Basic and SMS Advanced mapping software solutions.

“We are very pleased to be expanding for our customers the use of the valuable data our systems collect. Ag Leader SMS Basic and SMS Advanced software will now be compatible with Hemisphere GPS Outback Guidance and aerial application products,” said John Bohlke, Hemisphere GPS Director of Product Marketing. “Farmers using our guidance and auto-steering technology can now easily move their field data to their SMS desktop software for increased efficiency and a greater return from every acre. This compatibility extends the value of our products towards agriculture data management solutions.”

“Adding compatibility with Hemisphere GPS data file formats to SMS software is a natural fit given the number of Hemisphere GPS customers across North America who are collecting site specific data,” said Al Myers, President of Ag Leader. “This also reinforces Ag Leader’s strategy on being compatible with a wide variety of equipment brands when it comes to supporting site specific data. With this new compatibility with Hemisphere GPS products, we can bring our combined value to the market place to offer a complete solution to our customers.”

Ag Leader’s SMS Basic and SMS Advanced version 9.5, expected to release in September of 2009, will add support for reading and writing to file formats used by Hemisphere GPS products; including Outback 360, Outback Sts, Outback S3 and the Air M3 system. Data such as coverage maps, as-applied rates, field boundaries, marks, and guidance lines will all be supported.

Ag Leader, Company Announcement, GPS, Software

New Smaller Deere Self-Propelled Sprayer

Kurt Lawton

John Deere adds a new economy-sized, versatile 4630 self-propelled sprayer to it’s 30-Series lineup that is wired to add valuable precision farming tools.

The new 4630 Sprayer is ideal for cotton farmers who want a low-cost, comfortable, and productive machine that’s simple to operate. It’s also ideal for corn, soybean, or small-grain producers that want a productive yet comfortable machine with advanced options. The 4630 Sprayer replaces John Deere’s discontinued 6700 Sprayer.

“When they order a 4630 Sprayer, customers can choose between a narrow 72- to 88-inch, or wide 90- to 120-inch axle configuration. In areas where corn or soybeans are planted on traditional 30-inch rows, the sprayer’s wide axle configuration allows it to straddle three or four rows providing ultimate stability for the operator. In cotton country, the narrow configuration gives the sprayer the ability to straddle two 36-, 38-, or 40-inch rows that allow cotton producers to stay on hard centers. This axle flexibility allows the 4630 to fit in most crop applications in North America and around the world. Plus, its C-channel frame and air-ride, four-link suspended axle provide an exceptionally smooth ride that lets you spray at speeds up to 17 mph,” says Nick Weinrich John Deere product manager.

“The GreenStar™ AutoTrac™-Ready CommandView™ cab surrounds operators with industry-leading visibility, exceptional productivity and convenience that leads to best-in-class operator comfort,” says Weinrich.

Operators pilot the sprayer with a single hydro lever that moves with the ComfortCommand™ seat. John Deere’s AutoTrac-Ready system provides the necessary wiring harnesses to run GreenStar guidance and field documentation applications. Customers can add a StarFire™ global positioning receiver and use it in conjunction with the standard GreenStar 2 1800 Display or optional GS2 2600 Display to run guidance applications such as AutoTrac™ and Swath Control Pro™. The GS2 2600 Display enables operators to create as-applied maps, and to utilize documentation features found in larger John Deere 4730, 4830, and 4930 Sprayers.

The 4630 Sprayer is available with a 60-/80-foot boom that enables operators to spray at either a 60-foot width with the outer booms folded in, or at 80-feet with the booms fully extended. And, there are three tire size options to choose from that include 320, 380, and 420 sizes, so customers can better match their crop and application needs.

Each 4630 Sprayer is powered by a 165-horsepower John Deere PowerTech™ 6.8L, turbocharged diesel engine that’s Tier III emissions compliant. A 70-gallon fuel tank provides up to 16 hours of operating time between refueling.

“The 4630 Sprayer comes equipped with features similar to John Deere’s larger sprayer models, including a 4-wheel hydrostatic transmission that’s matched to the John Deere SprayStar™ spray-rate control system that allows for accurate, variable-rate spraying at speeds up to 15 mph. A 50/50 weight split provides optimal balance for traction control and flotation. Customers may also consider adding traction control and auto air spring leveling suspension system to personalize the sprayer so it fits perfectly into their operation,” explains Weinrich.

For more details you can visit with your local John Deere dealer, or go online and visit the company’s Web site at

Company Announcement, Corn, Cotton, Equipment, John Deere, Soybeans, Spraying

Looking For Precision at Farm Progress Show

Chuck Zimmerman

Farm Progress Show 2009It’s that time. Time for the 2009 Farm Progress Show.

I know a lot of people and a lot of work has been going on in Decatur, IL already and I’ll be on location tomorrow afternoon, along with Cindy and Carly who will be going to their first FPS. It looks like they’ll have some great weather. That’ll be a change.

We’ll be looking for good precision farming stories and already have some interviews lined up. It the field conditions are good we’ll also be out there looking for some video to record and post for you too. coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Farm Progress Show

Topcon Offers New Electric Steering Product

Kurt Lawton

For farmers who want a simple steering console with precise auto-steering performance, check out the new AES-25 system from Topcon Precision Agriculture.

Rhett Schildroth, TPA engineering director, said, “The AES-25 is an accurate steering system that does not intrude into the operator’s working area or alter the steering wheel position. There are no external components that could interfere with normal day-to-day operation within the cab.”

The AES-25 is fully compatible with Topcon’s new System 150 or the field-proven System 200 (X20 console). The patented new system provides “supreme performance and control previously thought possible only with hydraulic systems,” Schildroth said. “The AES-25 is much more than assisted steering, it’s an advanced solution for all platforms from basic steering to those striving for high-accuracy results.”

Combined with System 150 or System 200 (X20), the AES-25 provides solutions from basic autonomous through real-time kinetic (RTK). Schildroth said, “This allows the farmer to start with the accuracy needed for particular jobs, then step up to RTK with confidence they will achieve full 2cm accuracy. With Topcon’s multiple satellite capabilities, inertial sensors, and full terrain compensation, the AES-25 offers unparalleled positioning and control.”

System 200 (X20) features GPS+ capability, using signals from both GPS and GLONASS satellites. System 150 with G3 technology receives signals from all available satellites. More satellites means higher accuracy, maximum uptime, and 24/7 round-the-clock operation.

Schildroth said, “Not only does the AES-25 give precise steering control, but provides a viable alternative to hydraulic steering systems. For the farmer who wants a simple console but precise steering performance, System 150 with the AES-25 provides row crop steering without hydraulics. With a quiet, high-torque motor, the AES-25 provides silent operation and reverse steering, an exclusive feature within electric steering systems.”

The AES-25 provides:
— Quick, simple installation;
— Easy transfer from machine to machine; and
— Automated tuning.

For existing owners of X20 consoles with any GPS make or model, the AES-25 provides high accuracy auto guidance. Using the ProSteer ECU and cabin harness, an optional wheel angle sensor can be added for greater stability in challenging conditions (another Topcon exclusive). The entire system can be truly customized for any farm operation.

Company Announcement, Equipment, GPS Podcast

Cindy Zimmerman

We are happy to introduce a new and improved Podcast, a monthly feature with news and information important for growers who want to produce more efficiently. Thanks to Ag Leader Technology for their sponsorship.

In this first edition of the podcast, we hear from champions who choose precision technology and how taking your software mapping solutions to the field is easier than ever before.

Click here to listen to the Podcast [audio:]

Subscribe to the Podcast here.

Ag Leader, Audio, Precision Pays Podcast