Ag Will Be Twittering at Farm Progress Show

Chuck Zimmerman

AgChatSince we know that many farmers are using social networking services like Twitter and Facebook I thought you’d be interested to learn about a couple of opportunities to learn more while you’re attending the Farm Progress Show next week.

To start with there’s a weekly Twitter conversation called AgChat. AgChat is for farmers, in fact for anyone involved in providing food, fuel, feed and fiber as well as consumers. The audience is growing and it’s providing some good interaction with people who want and need to understand agriculture today.

“AgChat gives farmers a stronger voice and leverages the power of the agricultural community,” notes Michele Payn-Knoper, Certified Speaking Professional and founder of #AgChat. “We see upwards of 1,000 “tweets” during our two hour discussion every Tuesday night, cementing this tool as an important venue for sharing views and ideas on current food and farm topics, from antibiotic use to mainstream media misinformation about agriculture.”

On Tuesday, September 1, Farm Progress attendees can learn more about this social media tool at two #AgChat events:

• Tweetup: A networking and #AgChat demonstration for those in agriculture who are a part of Twitter, or want to see it in action. From 3-5 p.m., in the Country Financial tent, booth 749 on 7th Street, join Payn-Knoper and others in the #AgChat community, who will answer any questions you have. Refreshments will be served.

• #AgChat live: Join other farmers and agribusiness to participate in this fast-paced streaming “convo” on Twitter. Tweet and talk with several of the chat regulars, or just watch the community in action. Payn-Knoper will be moderating live from Farm Progress, 7-9 p.m., in the Decatur Conference Center & Hotel Illini Room. Bioenergy is the topic for the Sept. 1 chat. Other #AgChat participants will be joining in the streaming conversation from locations around the world.

If you won’t be attending the Farm Progress Show then just get online Tuesday evening at the time listed above and go to and enter the search term, #AgChat. Then you’ll be able to watch the conversation unfold one “tweet” at a time. You’ll need a Twitter account to do so but you don’t have to write if you don’t want. You can just watch. But we encourage you to participate!

Cindy and I will be attending the event and can often be found in the media tent. We’ll have stories as we find them for you here.

Events, Farm Progress Show

Yield Monitors: Extreme Value In Precision Farming

Kurt Lawton

Insights WeeklyThe yield monitor is a valuable instrument during harvest, giving you instantaneous yield numbers as you make each pass in the field. But is your system giving you added value?

Top farmers are using this precision agriculture tool to record results from specifically designed split-planter tests to make buying decisions on hybrids, varieties, traits, insecticides, fungicides, fertility levels, tillage techniques and much more. Below, we’ve included numerous links to stories that discuss these topics.

Along with aiding quicker and more astute future buying decisions, top growers continue to seek greater automation delivered by monitors that control all applications on their farm.

Ag Leader, a sponsor of and owner of the most widely used grain-monitoring technology in the world, believes growers can realize valuable decision-making benefits from several features offered on its InSight and Edge monitors. For example:
• Yield and Moisture Mapping: View a real-time map of your yields and moisture on-the-go as you witness the current field environment to help you draw initial conclusions based on the cropping year. And moisture level data aids drying/storage decisions.
• AutoSwath for Harvest: This features removes the worry of inaccurate acreage and yield data on point rows or partial swaths, since Ag Leader units record data based on the number of rows being harvested.
• Hybrid/Variety Yield Mapping: Looking to make harvest-time buying decisions on what to plant next year? You can overlay your planting maps with real-time harvest maps to get instant yield/moisture comparisons by hybrid and variety.

Check out these additional resources on yield monitors:
Ag Leader yield monitors

Step-by-Step Yield Monitor Data Analysis – Top Farmer Crop Workshop, Purdue

Using Yield Monitor Data for On-farm Experiments – Top Farmer Crop Workshop, Purdue (and check out links at end of this story on how to filter your raw yield data)

Making Cents out of Multiple Years of Yield Monitor Data – South Dakota State

Setting up Side by Side Comparisons with a Yield Monitor – Pioneer

Why and How to Calibrate Your Yield Monitor – Iowa Soybean Association

Yield Monitor Calibration Tips – Ohio State

Yield Monitors and Maps: Making Decisions – Ohio State

Ag Leader, Displays, Equipment, Insights Weekly

Plant Tissue Sampling Aids Precision Fertility

Kurt Lawton

Without in-season plant tissue testing to see if crops are nutrient deficient, you may be leaving yield in the field. Unseen nutrient deficiencies can stunt growth, harm plant health and limit yield.

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative began working with A&L Labs this year to train co-ops on proper sampling, and some are adding this service to their precision agriculture programs, according to this story in Tennessee Cooperator magazine.

The only way to know whether a crop is adequately nourished is to have the plant tissue analyzed during the growing season, says Oscar Ruiz, agronomist with A&L Laboratories in Memphis.

“Many times a low nutrient status may not be obvious — it’s a ‘hidden hunger,’” says Oscar. “While soil tests are great for determining a base line for a fertility program, a plant tissue sample can help make crucial in-season adjustments that can improve the crop’s nutrition and increase profit.”

Although it’s been used heavily in the horticulture industry for years, plant tissue sampling is now becoming an important tool for row-crop growers who are employing more intensive management practices on their farms.

“The Co-op system relies heavily on preseason soil tests to formulate fertility programs for farmers, but that doesn’t account for in-season nutrient deficiencies that can occur because of weather, variety differences, and cropping systems,” says Alan Sparkman, TFC agronomy marketing manager. “Tissue sampling can allow growers to really fine-tune nutrient management and correct deficiencies before yields are negatively impacted. For those who are using precision agriculture practices on their farms, this becomes the next logical step.”

Weakley Farmers Cooperative, which has locations in Martin, Gleason, and Greenfield, recently established a precision agriculture program and added tissue sampling to its menu of services, which also includes grid sampling, variable-rate lime and fertilizer application, and nitrate nitrogen testing. The Co-op also hired a precision agriculture specialist, Emily Clark, a recent University of Tennessee at Martin graduate and TFC training program participant, to handle these new programs.

After receiving extensive training from A&L Labs technicians, Emily began tissue sampling corn and soybean fields this spring and summer and says the results have been “eye-opening” for her and the growers.

“These tests show something we’ve never been able to see before — what the plant’s nutrient status looks like in the middle of the growing season,” says Emily. “Even if you took soil samples this winter and everything came back fine, you still may not be getting what you need into that plant. These tests can either give producers peace of mind that their fertility program is doing what it should or find problems that we can fix so the crop will reach optimal productivity.”


New Smaller Case IH Patriot Self-Propelled Sprayer

Kurt Lawton

A new 800-gallon, lighter footprint addition to the Patriot self-propelled sprayer line-up was recently introduced by Case IH at the Midwest Ag Industries Expo (MAGIE) in Bloomington, Ill.

The Patriot 3230 offers the full complement of Case IH precision agriculture tool options–from AFS AccuGuide autoguidance and AIM Command spray system to the AFS Pro 600 display, the AFS 262 GPS receiver and the Navigation II Controller.

“Because of the Case IH cab-forward, rear-engine configuration, Patriot sprayers are designed to get you in the field sooner – in any field condition – and this new 800-gallon machine offers an even greater advantage with a lighter overall footprint,” says Ken Lehmann, Case IH application equipment marketing manager. “The balanced weight distribution and light footprint of the Patriot ensures operators can get in the field when competitive machines cannot. During critical application windows that impact yields, our sprayers can get into tough terrain without damaging crops or creating ruts.”

Although the 3230 will be the smallest of the Patriot sprayers, there’s nothing small about its capabilities. Case IH powers the Patriot 3230 sprayer with a new 6.7-liter electronically controlled diesel engine, rated at 220 horsepower. This turbocharged, aftercooled powerplant puts out 752 foot-pounds of peak torque.

All Case IH Patriot sprayers offer superior control of product application with multiple features that contribute to spray performance such as precision control of boom height, rapid changes in spray nozzle rate, GPS-guided boom-section control, and even fully automated steering for the ultimate in convenience and accuracy.

“This new sprayer shares the same design DNA as the larger Patriot sprayers,” Lehmann explains. “That means a smoother ride for operators, more acres sprayed every season and better application accuracy in the field.”

Company Announcement, Education, Equipment

Add Precision Farming Promotion To Your Chore List

Kurt Lawton

One important item on your list of daily chores should be to help educate our customer, the consumer. To that end, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has a site called Corn Farmers Coalition. Not only does it highlight growers using precision agriculture tools that help reduce environmental impact (see “Farmer Innovations” tab), it also features excellent corn facts.

It was designed to help educate policy-makers in Washington D.C.

Check it out, and pass it on!

Conservation, Corn, Education, Resources, sustainability

Raven Using Social Media Communications Tools

Kurt Lawton

header2If you’re a Facebook or Twitter user, you can now connect with Raven Industries to learn more about their precision agriculture offerings and get the latest information.

Follow Raven on Twitter under “RavenIndustries” (, and become
a fan of our Facebook page “Raven Industries” ( to hear the latest on our products and their use in the
field. We make frequent contributions to keep content fresh and informative.

Top Tweet Topics and Facebook Finds
• New product information
• Promotions
• Links to videos and pictures depicting our products
• Information on what we’re showing at upcoming tradeshows
• Quotes from farmers and Raven employees on precision product use
• Up-to-the-minute Raven Applied Technology Division news
• Easy follow-up on Press Release content
• Access to a network of people in-tune to precision ag

Check out these links if you want to join Facebook or Twitter.

Newbie’s guide to Twitter.

Newbie’s guide to Facebook.


Time To Kick Pre-harvest Checks Into Gear

Kurt Lawton

Insights WeeklyAs we’re well into the dog days of summer, Midwest corn and soybean harvest is looming larger. If you haven’t started combine prep already, it’s time to dust off those owner’s manuals to fine-tune the machine and its data-gathering electronics.

Ag Leader Technology, a sponsor of, offers some good advice in a pre-harvest checklist for owners of their InSight and EDGE displays:

• Create a backup of your spring information.
• Select Copy All Files to save the spring data to the memory card.
• Make sure your display firmware, manual and all connected modules are up-to-date.
• Firmware and manual updates can be found on its website under Support. If you have purchased a new combine or new heads, create new configurations for any setup that is different from last fall. Remove all old configurations.

Combine Inspection
• Check to make sure all cables are properly attached and in good condition.
• Remove flow sensor and inspect for damage.
• Check the elevator deflector and impact plate for wear. Verify you have the proper clearance at the top of the clean grain elevator. Clearance should be between 3/8” and 5/8”.

Other items on the Ag Leader checklist include: sensor calibration, header stop height, distance calibration, temperature and moisture check and grain weight. Consult your manual in all cases. And if you’ve lost it, you can find them on the website.

For more information on pre-harvest preparation, Check out these links:

Yield monitor calibration: Garbage in garbage out – Purdue University.
Yield monitor calibration tips – Ohio State University.
Tips to cut combine breakdowns – Corn & Soybean Digest.

Ag Leader, Corn, Education, Equipment, Insights Weekly, Soybeans

Clemson Takes Precision Agriculture On The Road

Kurt Lawton

Precision farming hits the road in South Carolina as Clemson University Mobile Precision Ag Lab travels the state to take ag research from the field to the farmer.

Clemson’s Will Henderson works from the back of the trailer to share real-time results of Clemson studies and demonstrate the principles of precision agriculture.
“It’s a traveling road show for precision ag,” Henderson said.

Precision agriculture is the practice of using remote-sensing, soil sampling and information-management tools to optimize agriculture production.

The intent is to improve the accuracy of applying water or chemicals within a field. The finite management of precision agriculture is in contrast to whole-field or whole-farm management where decisions are uniformly applied. This approach helps protect the environment and improve both yields and the grower’s bottom line.

“It’s micro-managing individual parts of the field,” Henderson said. “Precision ag can help increase a farmer’s net return by applying these principles on a site-specific basis.”

For more information, check out the story and video.


France Tests N Fertilization Using Remote Sensing

Kurt Lawton

RapidEye, a German-based GIS mapping technology provider, is working with a France company to test and deliver biomass maps that can help farmers improve Nitrogen efficiency in wheat and canola fields, as reported by Vector1Media.

RapidEye provided S2B’s VISIOPLAINE platform with biomass maps to support nitrogen fertilization of canola fields for five regions from early winter 2008 to early spring 2009. In June 2009, RapidEye delivered chlorophyll maps for 2 different areas in France.

The results and field measurements are being tested, analyzed, and confirmed this year before introducing this solution into the wheat market in 2010. The cooperatives and scientific institutes contributed information collected in the fields, whereas RapidEye was responsible for the analysis from the remote sensing perspective, and delivered an intermediate product in the form of biomass and chlorophyll maps.

Based on these maps, S2B was able to make recommendations for nitrogen fertilization in canola and wheat fields to the farming community through their VISIOPLAINE platform. “In early 2009, S2B and RapidEye entered into a strategic partnership agreement for all remote sensing projects that VISIOPLAINE plans over the next three years.

Through our partnership with S2B’s VISIOPLAINE platform, we will increase RapidEye’s visibility in the French Precision Farming market.” said Michael Prechtel, Head of Sales and Marketing at RapidEye. Future projects with S2B include Precision Farming services for sunflower, potatoes and sugarbeet. RapidEye’s contributions to these projects include identifying variabilities of biophysical parameters within fields such as nitrogen content and leaf area index.

Aerial Imagery, Company Announcement, Fertilizer, International, Remote sensing, Satellite

Precision Fertilizer Use Helping Shrink Hypoxia Zone

Kurt Lawton

A good story that appeared recently in Wallaces Farmer magazine highlights farmer efforts to continually improve precision fertilizer application. In fact, it reports that the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico has shrunk and that Nitrogen delivery has been reduced by 21 percent.

The “hypoxia zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is significantly smaller this year than scientists predicted it would be, and conservation efforts by farmers upstream in states like Iowa and Illinois are a key reason, say officials with the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Corn Growers and the Iowa Soybean Association.

The hypoxia zone, or ‘dead zone’ as it’s sometimes called, in the Gulf of Mexico is 65% square miles smaller than originally predicted, according to a new report from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University.

“This was surprisingly small given the forecast to be among the largest ever and the expanse of the dead zone earlier this summer,” said Dr. Nancy Rabalais, commenting on the report last week. She is one of the scientists who made the earlier prediction.

The decision about what strategy to take to solve the “dead zone” problem has ramped up as the Obama administration considers using a regulatory attack on the issue. Suzanne Schwartz, who directs a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is working on the dead zone issue, says the federal government and Louisiana researchers are checking to see whether the pollution violates water quality standards. If it does, “The state of Louisiana could set standards for what comes in, using the legal authority of the Federal Clean Water Act,” Schwartz said at a conference in late July.

The possibility of the Environmental Protection Agency regulating how much nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer farmers can apply to cropland is drawing fire from agricultural interests in Iowa and other states along the Mississippi River—including farm organizations, commodity groups and fertilizer dealers.

“What this shows us is that Mother Nature has as much to do with the size of the hypoxic zone as anything, but Iowa farmers are doing their part to use soil and water conservation measures to reduce nitrates and phosphorus run-off.  We’ve already seen a 21% decline in nitrogen delivery to the Gulf. That’s why Iowa Farm Bureau nominated the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Farm Service Agency for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf Guardian Award last year for its Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program,” says Rick Robinson, environmental policy adviser for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Robinson adds, “We still have more work to do, but the key thing is farmers are taking action to reduce runoff.  While we cannot control Mother Nature, we can target and coordinate federal and state conservation matching funds used for cost sharing – it’s a continuous effort.”

The report of the shrinking hypoxia zone comes as welcome news to Iowa farmers, who this year, have planted a record corn crop and are expecting a record corn yield. “Thanks to advances in seed genetics, better in-field conservation measures being put into place on the land by farmers, and the development of new precision farming methods and other technology, farmers can feed the world, while continuing to protect it,” says Robinson.

Conservation, Corn, Fertilizer, sustainability