Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

We’re seeing precision agriculture showing up in more than just farm publications these days. For example, the Montgomery Advertiser.com has a story posted from the (Florence) Daily Times which gives a pretty good overview of how some Alabama farmers are using precision agriculture on their farms.

In the story two of the farmers quoted are Shane Isbell and his Dad, Neal.

Isbell’s father, Neal Isbell, said it is almost impossible not to overlap spraying without using a guidance system.

“It is a big savings economically and to the environment because there is not a lot of excess chemicals out there,” he said.

Shane Isbell said damaging the land with excess chemicals is the last thing a farmer wants.

“This is our livelihood,” he said while reaching down to the soil.

“Farmers are the original environmentalists. I am going to protect that dirt with life and limb because that’s what I need to support my family.”

Isbell Farms also has taken advantage of aerial imagery that lets them look at each specific area of the field from overhead photos.

Images of fields can show which areas are growing well and which areas are not.

Feel free to visit the article and leave your comments since they have that feature enabled.

General

HHD “first look”

Melissa Sandfort

The 30th Anniversary Husker Harvest Days 400-acre field demonstration area offered a chance to compare machines side-by-side. And that’s exactly what farmers of all ages recently experienced — a first-look at the newly launched John Deere equipment at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Neb.

Husker Harvest Days it is a working show…growers get a chance to see implements work under actual field conditions. Seeing a tool perform at Husker Harvest Days is worth dozens of talks with salesmen.

hhd2.jpgThey also had a chance to see the biggest and most technologically advanced machines in the world zip through corn during the show. And what modern farm show would be complete without precision farming exhibits? At HHD, new tractors equipped with autosteer and similar equipment strutted their stuff in the familiar Ride ‘n Drive area and visitors had a chance to visit with John Deere representatives as well as take a hands-free test drive.

Visit www.johndeere.com/ag or your local John Deere dealer for more information on the complete list of new products available for the 2008 growing season.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Jackson, Farm Progress Companies.

Events, General

Study Results for Using Precision Ag in Corn

Chuck Zimmerman

Science DailyA story on Science Daily points to a study conducted by China Agricultural University, the Precision Agriculture Center of University of Minnesota and Mosaic Crop Nutrition that shows the value of precision agriculture.

The study was conducted on two commercial corn fields in eastern Illinois in 2001 and 2003 involving two corn hybrids and five different N fertilizer application rates across the landscape. Nitrogen response of corn yield and quality were fitted at different within-field locations, and the potential impacts of different N management strategies were evaluated against a uniform rate of N application that is a common farmer’s practice in the region.

The results indicated that one hybrid was found to have higher yield, quality and distribution to suppliers than the other hybrid under either a uniform or varied nitrogen application. Results also showed that varying nitrogen applied to localized within-field conditions and hybrid differences could either increase corn yield with similar or higher nitrogen rates or maintain yield with less nitrogen application, without any significant improvement of grain quality. The study was funded by Cargill Crop Nutrition (now Mosaic Company), Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

You’ll need to be a subscriber to download the results from the study which are published in the September-October 2007 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Education

John Deere hits the road

Melissa Sandfort

hhd07ban.jpgThis week, John Deere hits the road to farm shows including the Big Iron Farm Show and Husker Harvest Days. Fargo, North Dakota hosts the Big Iron show again this year on Sept. 11-13.

Husker Harvest Days also kicks off Sept. 11-13 in Grand Island, Neb. Be sure to stop by the John Deere booth to see the newly launched products and Ag Management Solutions precision farming services. And, stay tuned to Precision.AgWired.com for reports from Husker Harvest Days.

General

Check Your GPS

Cindy Zimmerman

IA SoyThe Iowa Soybean Association is working to get information out to growers about updating GPS equipment through a media release sent out September 5.

Farmers who rely on GPS for yield monitors or easy-steer on tractors should be aware of some changes that may affect them this fall.

“The Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the Wide Area Augmentation Service (WAAS) for GPS differential correction, replaced two older satellites and new ones in July,” says Pat Reeg, field operations manager with the Iowa Soybean Association.

IA Soy ReegWhile the new satellites will give GPS users increased signal strength and more accuracy, it’s possible that users may have to update the firmware in their receivers in order to receive signal correction from them.

“The change in satellites affects only WAAS GPS,” Reeg says. “And not all WAAS receiver systems will be affected. It does not impact OmniSTAR, John Deere SF2 or SF2, or the Nationwide Differential GPS, which is the old Coast Guard Beacon System.”

Reeg says if you’re not certain whether the change will affect your GPS receiver, all you need to do is turn it on and check to make sure you’re receiving a differential correction signal. If you are, you’re set to go. If not, you’ll need to replace the firmware in your receiver with an updated version.

“It’s especially important for growers participating in ISA On-Farm Network™ replicated strip trial studies, since we’re looking for accurate information on which to base future crop production decisions,” Reeg says.

The On-Farm Network, a program of the Iowa Soybean Association, assists growers in conducting on-farm studies of crop production products and practices.

Equipment, General, Satellite

Seeing Through the Trees

Melissa Sandfort

John Deere recently announced enhancement to its guidance software offerings to bring more value and accuracy when using field equipment. Two new improvements include Long Range RTK, which expands the working distance of a vehicle from the base station, and Shading Optimization, which enhances AutoTrac performance in partially shaded conditions. The previous version of StarFire RTK had sub-inch accuracy but was limited to a six-mile radius from the base station. The new Long Range RTK software now maintains the accuracy but allows a 12-mile radius from the base station.

“We’ve also developed Shading Optimization software for our AutoTrac SF1 and SF2 systems,” explains Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager, John Deere Ag Management Solutions (AMS). “Barriers such as trees, buildings or other structures are a problem for all guidance systems because they disrupt the satellite signal to the vehicle, especially during headland turns. Shading Optimization allows AutoTrac to stay enabled when moving through areas with trees and windbreaks.

“The AutoTrac guidance system usually needs a stable signal from the L1 and L2 bands. Previously, the system would shut down if one signal was missing because of shading. The new Shading Optimization continues to AutoTrac even if the StarFire iTC Receiver is receiving a signal from the L1 band only. This adds more consistency and accuracy to optimize the AutoTrac system. Signal disruption can still be a problem if both the L1 and L2 bands are lost,” says Reynolds. “But we’ve helped improve the overall system with the enhanced Shading Optimization software.”

General

Swath Control Pro For Planters Animation Video

Chuck Zimmerman

Swath Control AnimationIt’s one thing to hear about a new product enhancement but quite another to “see” it. That’s the case with John Deere’s Swath Control Pro for planters. This new precision ag product enhancement received lots of excitement at the recent new product introduction.

To see just how it works you can watch a great animation of it on the John Deere website. There’s also an option to download the video to your computer if you’d like.

Higher seed costs are a concern to all growers as they try to improve planter performance for optimal plant emergence and potential yields. New technology from John Deere now allows more efficient use of seed with the Swath Control Pro system for planters.

“We now have a system, integrated with the field-proven GreenStar™ 2 (GS2) Rate Controller, GS2 Display and StarFire iTC receiver, to turn sections of the planter on and off based on GPS coverage,” says Mike Park, marketing manager, John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “Growers will truly appreciate the ability to minimize double planting in headland areas.”

Swath Control Pro is compatible with the existing half- or third-width disconnects found on most John Deere planters. It is also compatible with aftermarket row unit controls. Such systems provide further precision by dividing the planter into smaller sections, which allows even more accuracy and less overplanting.

Equipment, Events, Video

Learning About New Rate Controller Updates

Chuck Zimmerman

John Deere Product Launch Field DayAt the recent John Deere product introduction new sprayers were on display for dealers to see in action. Also being shown was some of the new precision products that help growers more precisely apply products.

Take for example the new rate controller system.

Precision farming technology continues to grow as producers adopt innovative practices to bring more efficiency to their operations. The GreenStar™ 2 (GS2) Rate Controller was introduced last year to help growers automatically manage and control spray rates on pull-type sprayers. Now, GS2 will be expanded this winter for compatibility with certain NH3 and liquid fertilizer applications.


Three presenters showed the equipment to us including Iowa farm brothers Brent and Lee Madden and Adam Hart. You can watch a portion of their presentation here and learn more. They did fire up the equipment like the 4830 sprayer in the background.

Events, Video

New Precision Ag Products

Chuck Zimmerman

Kayla ReynoldsAt the John Deere product introduction Kayla Reynolds, John Deere Ag Management Solutions, gave a presentation to the media and a group of securities analysts. It was kind of a like a Precision 101 class since many of those attending have no background or experience with agriculture. The event provided them with some great information that will help them better cover the industry.

After her presentation I spoke to Kayla about the main points she wanted to get across to the group about the new things being offered by John Deere. She focused on 4 main topics related to precision ag. They are long range RTK, shading optimization, GS2 rate controller expansion and Swath Control Pro for planting. She explains each of them and what is new about them.

It appears that John Deere has made some significant strides in the area of precision ag. For example the new long range RTK allows a grower to operate their equipment with sub inch accuracy at up to 12 miles from the base station instead of the 6 miles previously possible.

You can listen to my interview with Kayla here: Listen to MP3 Kayla Reynolds Interview (4:00 min mp3)

Audio, Events