Trimble Acquires NTech & GreenSeeker Technology

Kurt Lawton

Trimble expands its precision agriculture solutions offering by acquiring NTech, a leading provider of crop-sensing technology GreenSeeker and WeedSeeker.

NTech products use optical sensing and variable rate application to apply only the inputs needed to maximize crop yield. The GreenSeeker nitrogen application system determines the health of a plant in real time and delivers the optimum amount of nitrogen. The WeedSeeker automatic spot-spray system senses the presence of living plants, allowing targeted and controlled herbicide application.

The systems are typically utilized with Global Positioning System (GPS) solutions and flow and application control products, both of which are supported by Trimble’s precision agricultural portfolio of products.

“Trimble’s focus is to provide complete agriculture solutions – from machine guidance and automated steering to application control. The acquisition of NTech gives Trimble customers even more ways to save on fertilizer and herbicide costs while reducing their impact on the environment,” said Erik Arvesen, vice president and general manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “By applying the right amount of inputs for optimum plant growth, farmers can manage for maximum efficiency and avoid over-applying fertilizer or herbicide.”

“GreenSeeker and WeedSeeker solutions are breakthroughs for variable rate application. Our technology offers farmers innovative solutions to help control fertilizer and crop protection products, which ultimately drive costs,” said Ted Mayfield, NTech’s chief operating officer. “We are excited to join Trimble and believe that our combined technologies will provide farmers with enhanced solutions to more efficiently manage control applications in the field.”

 

 

 

Company Announcement, Equipment, Fertilizer, Precision Ag in the News, Spraying, Trimble

Farmer Blogs About Need For Technology Adoption

Kurt Lawton

 

Borg Farm family and friends enjoy a campfire break from the rigors of 24/7 farming

Borg Farm family and friends enjoy a campfire break from the rigors of 24/7 farming

Debbie Borg blogs about issues of technology and food from her Borg Farm base near Allen, Nebraska. In a recent post of “Random Thoughts,” she spoke of the great achievements of agricultural technology and the production efficiencies it has helped achieve.

Agriculture’s efficiency just seems to keep getting better and many of the activists groups want us to go back to the ‘old ways’. Why is it, after only a few days our computer needs to be updated, but farmers aren’t suppose to update to new technology. Read here that “To produce one billion kilograms of milk in 2007, we need 20 percent less cows, 25 percent less feed, 10 percent less land. In 2007, we produced 40 percent less methane and 56 percent less nitrous oxide compared to 1944. The reason for that is improved efficiency, and these are huge gains.

The Ad Council is teaming up with HSUS to launch a three-year, $80-120 million effort to change the way Americans view shelter pets and boost adoption rates of homeless cats and dogs across the country. Maybe why this campaign is being developed is that too many people have forgotten that pets are an animal that must be cared for daily. Unlike farmers and ranchers who have chosen a field of work that requires a commitment 24/7. Not everyone is designed to be a farmer or rancher–it takes special character and commitment. 

Hats off and and kudos to Debbie (who’s Twitter handle is “iamafarmer2”) and Borg Farms for adding realism to the technology and food debate, and to Nebraska Corn Kernels blog also for highlighting their efforts. It’s awesome to see farmers take a more active role in helping promote their cause — to educate some consumers who think hobby farms and free-range livestock can feed a growing world. 

And to that end of helping educate consumers and speaking up for agriculture, check out Michele Payn-Knoper’s blog called “Cause Matters.”

Education, Farmers, sustainability

Precision Feeding Aims To Reduce Environmental Risks

Kurt Lawton

To help reduce excessive nitrates from manure, Penn State research is focused on reducing manure nitrogen by 30-50% and phosphorus by 40-60% by precision feeding dairy cattle. 

The Chesapeake Bay Commission has determined that, by far, the most cost-effective way to minimize the environmental impact of the large volumes of manure generated within the estuary’s watershed is by adjusting feed formulation for poultry and livestock, says Virginia Ishler, nutrient-management extension specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Until recently, the focus has been on dealing with manure and its nutrients post-excretion,” she said. “However, now we are focusing on research and on nutrition programs to better balance nitrogen and phosphorus being fed to dairy cows. The feeding management — or how the ration is implemented and presented to the cows — can greatly affect nutrient levels and utilization. But that is just one component.”

The other component of the new enlightened management approach, Ishler explained, is utilizing as much home-grown feed as possible, especially forages, to minimize nutrients being imported onto a farm.

With funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ishler and research assistant Erica Cowan also are collaborating with the University of Maryland on a project in the Monocacy Creek watershed. In the Pennsylvania portion of the watershed, in Adams County, a Penn State team is monitoring dairy farms to determine the correlation between precision feeding and financial health.

“Every three months, ration information is collected, and total mixed ration and feed/forage samples are analyzed,” said Ishler. “We are also testing milk and monitoring urea nitrogen. Reports are sent back to the producer and their nutritionist after every sampling period to show where the herd is in relation to nitrogen and phosphorus goals.”

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Ishler and Indiana County extension educator Eugene Schurman are working with 12 dairy producers and their nutritionists, collecting nutrition and feed-management information every other month. This project is funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, a USDA competitive grants program supporting agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.

Conservation, Dairy, Fertilizer, Research, sustainability

Precision Planting Saves Thousands Of Dollars

Kurt Lawton

It’s nice to see the general media cover agriculture from a positive technology standpoint. This recent story in the Janesville (Wisc.) Gazette highlights how precision agriculture tools help farmers cut costs. 

Chuck Pope uses global positioning software in the cab of his tractor as a guide as he plants thousands of acres of corn in Walworth, Rock and Jefferson counties in Wisconsin.

The equipment isn’t new, but it’s becoming more common as farmers look for ways to cut costs.

As Pope rounds the corner in a field, a little image of a tractor lines up with a pre-programmed line on a computer monitor in the cab of his John Deere.

He hits a switch and lowers the 90-foot-wide planter. He flips a switch on the back of the steering column, and the tractor takes over, steering itself and following the GPS line up the field.

It’s not a brand new concept to use data tracking software and Global Positioning Systems to maximize crop yields. Pope’s been doing it for 10 years.

Precision planting shaves 2 to 3 percent off Pope’s seed costs. That adds up to savings of $8,000 to $15,000 per year, he said.

Education, Farmers, GPS, Precision Ag in the News

New Leica Auto-Steer Offers Free 6-8 Inch Accuracy

Kurt Lawton

The new mojoGLIDE console from Leica Geosystems is claimed to offer a revolutionary new dual-frequency GLIDE positioning technology that provides 6- to 8-inch accuracy with no subscription fees and no base station. And if you buy the console, display and auto boom section control for your sprayer before JUNE 30th, you can save $4,500.

Leica’s mojoGLIDE console retails at $7,990 and is fully upgradable to RTK accuracy with an unlock code. Once the unlock code is purchased, the console can be used with a personal base station or on a CORS network. No additional hardware or upgrades will be required to obtain RTK accuracy.

“The mojoGLIDE console is the only low-accuracy auto-steer system that comes with all the necessary components to upgrade to RTK accuracy, eliminating the need to purchase additional radios, antennas, or cell modems,” said Trevor Mecham, North American business manager for Leica’s Ag Group. “Like the mojoRTK, the mojoGLIDE console is quick and easy to install and comes with Leica Geosystem’s patented 9-axis terrain compensation for the best performance in the most difficult terrain.”

The dual-frequency L1/L2 GLIDE technology can be added to existing mojoRTK consoles allowing users to operate without the base station during field preparation, spraying or other work that does not require RTK accuracy.

“We think our customers will see a lot of value in the mojoGLIDE console since there is no subscription fee and it is completely upgradable to RTK accuracy with the purchase of a single unlock code, which can be purchased and delivered via Virtual Wrench™,” said Darin Sothers, North American sales manager for Leica’s Ag Group.

Leica’s remote service and support tool – Virtual Wrench – can be used with the mojoGLIDE console allowing customers to get quick support in the field with a touch a button. Virtual Wrench also allows users to add advanced guidance options, RTK accuracy or other software upgrades to their console.

Company Announcement, Equipment, GPS, Leica Geosystems, Spraying

Satellites Show Ozone Cutting Soybean Yields

Kurt Lawton

Losses of up to $2 billion per year (10%) in soybean yield is due to rising surface ozone, according to satellite measurements by NASA, as outlined in a recent study

Above a threshold concentration, ozone inhibits photosynthesis and reduces yield in soybeans, one of the more sensitive crops to high surface ozone levels. On the left are plants that have been exposed to “clean air” and are healthy, while on the right are plants exposed to ozone that are showing injury.

The study, presented at the American Geophysical Union Joint Assembly meeting, May 24 in Toronto, is based on five years of soybean yields, surface ozone, and satellite measurements of tropospheric ozone levels in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. It revealed summertime ozone concentrations consistently exceeded threshold levels at which crops are negatively affected. The states, three of the biggest soybean producers in the U.S., account for a large chunk of the country’s $27 billion annual soybean crop. The study estimates damage to the soybean crop – by a yield reduction of approximately 10 percent – of at least several hundred million in some years in those states alone, and possibly more than $2 billion nationwide. 

Climate change scenarios present numerous global problems for agriculture in this century, with the probability of more severe and extended droughts. But there’s also the strong likelihood that as cars, factories and power plants both here and abroad continue to change the fundamental chemistry of the air, the altered atmosphere will negatively impact the biological processes of important crops. 

“In the 19th and early 20th century, background surface ozone concentrations were relatively low so that an increase of 25 percent, (5 to 10 parts per billion), didn’t affect living organisms,” said Jack Fishman, a research scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “But now, we’ve crossed the line where you can expect to see modest increases in surface ozone result in crop growth being stunted.” 

Since the early twentieth century, surface ozone levels in rural areas in the Midwest have doubled, Fishman said. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that surface ozone concentrations will rise another 25 percent by 2050. In the southern region of the three states studied, peak daytime concentrations often surpassed 60 parts per billion. And so the yields in the southern region definitively suffered. In the northern region of the area studied, averaged concentrations were nearly 20 percent lower, and the impact of ozone was less. 

“Background conditions are rising. Precursor emissions are rising,” said Elizabeth Ainsworth, a professor of crop biology at the University of Illinois. “This is likely to get worse in the future and impact a greater area of the Midwest.” 

Education, GPS, Industry News, Research, Satellite, Soybeans, sustainability

Trimble Offers Rebate On Precision Ag Tools

Kurt Lawton

 

Trimble EZ-Guide 500 Lightbar

Trimble EZ-Guide 500 Lightbar

If you’re in the market for precision agriculture equipment such as a good lightbar, an assisted steering system or an boom control system, Trimble is offering cash-back rebates of $150 to $300 until June 30.

EZ-Guide® 250 lightbar — US $150 rebate
EZ-Guide 500 lightbar — US $250 rebate
EZ-Steer® assisted steering system
— US $300 rebate
EZ-Boom® system
— US $150 rebate

 Customers may submit one rebate form for multiple EZ Products, but the total rebate cannot exceed US $2,500 per household. Purchases must be made through a participating and authorized Trimble dealer between 8 May and 30 June 2009. Visit www.trimble.com/agriculture to learn more about Trimble products and to find a Trimble dealer near you.

 For more information on the rebate program visit or call 1-800-865-7438.

This offer is good only in the USA and Canada, excluding Quebec. All rebates must be postmarked by 30 July 2009.

Company Announcement, Equipment, GPS, Trimble

Precision.AgWired.com Widget

Chuck Zimmerman

Hello Precision.AgWired.com fans. How would you like to have Precision.AgWired.com news on your website or blog?

Now you can and it’s free. It’s also very easy. We’ve created a widget that allows you to display the latest headlines from the stories and posts on Precision.AgWired.com. All you have to do is paste some code onto your web page. The widget also allows you to choose some display options. Not sure what a widget is? Learn here.

So to get the Precision.AgWired.com widget for your web site just click on “Get Widget” at the bottom of the display below.

Let me know if you have any problems or questions.

Company Announcement

Precision Guidance In Central California

Chuck Zimmerman

Precision On DisplayI’ve had the opportunity to work on a project for John Deere that involves their new utility tractors and vehicles this year called the Drive Green Utility Tractor Show. During the course of the project I’ve visited John Deere dealers and show stops where these new tractors have been displayed. This has included a number of ride and drive opportunities for attending customers and the general public.

The last location I visited with the Show was Fresno Equipment in Fresno, CA. I found out that in their ride and drive lot they had a precision guided tractor demonstration being run by local AMS Consultant, Joey Todd, pictured here. So I climbed in the cab with Joey and had him explain what was on display. To start with we were in an 8230 wheel tractor running RTK using iTEC Pro. Joey set up a field with boundaries so that the tractor would turn at the appropriate spot and raise and lower the implement. He said we were getting sub 1 inch accuracy. In California Joey says the need for precision is “a must” especially because of water restrictions.

You can listen to my interview with Joey here: [audio:http://zimmcomm.biz/precision/drive-green-fresno-precision.mp3]

Audio, John Deere

Precision Crop Technology Proves Sustainability

Kurt Lawton

While anti-agriculture naysayers continue to blast away at GM crops as the end of the world, it’s our duty to offer sound science to the discussion.

To this end, a recent study by the British-based PG Economics offers some statistics on the value of biotech crops…as discussed in a recent Nebraska Corn Kernels blog post.

Biotech crops help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of pesticides – in addition to increasing yields for many farmers while reducing production risk, according to a study released this week.

In other words, biotech crops help farmers produce more with less – and that’s good on the sustainability front.

Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics and co-author of the report, had this to say:

Since 1996, biotech crop adoption has contributed to reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, decreased pesticide spraying and significantly boosted farmers’ incomes. … The technology has also made important contributions to increasing the yields of many farmers, reducing production risks, improving productivity and raising global production of key crops.

The combination of economic and environmental benefit delivery is therefore making a valuable contribution to improving the sustainability of global agriculture, with these benefits and improvements being greatest in developing countries.

If farmers who used biotech were not able to, in 2007 it would have taken an additional 14.6 million acres of soybeans, 7.4 million acres of corn, 6.2 million acres of cotton and 0.7 million acres of canola just to produce the same sized crop. (This total area requirement is equivalent to about 6 percent of the arable land in the U.S. or 23 percent of the arable land in Brazil!)

Other Biotech crop benefits from the study:

  • Reduced tillage and fuel use in 2007 which cut carbon dioxide greenhouse gases by the equivalent of removing 6.3 million cars from the road that year.
  • Reduced pesticide spraying by 8.8% (1996-2007)
  • Increased no-till adoption in many regions, especially South America
  • Increased on-farm net economic benefits to $10.1 Billion in 2007, with a total of $$44.1 Billion (1996-2007)
  • Almost 50% of total farm income gains are due to yield increases with biotech crops, with the balance from production cost reductions
  • Farmers in developing countries got the lion’s share of farm income gains in 2007 (58%), while garnering 50% over the 12 year period.
  • Since 1996, biotech corn has added 62.4 Million tonnes and biotech soybeans added 67.8 Million tonnes to global food production.

Read the entire study to gain more insight. And kudos to the Nebraska Corn Board for promoting the value of biotechnology.

Ag Group, Conservation, Corn, Education, Research, sustainability