Look for Precision at Iowa Progress Show

Laura McNamara

fp.pngMark your calendars for the nation’s largest outdoor farm show. The 2008 Farm Progress Show will be held at a new location in Boone, Iowa August 26 through 28. Show coordinators have announced that construction at the site will be completed in time for this year’s event. John Deere highlighted its latest innovations in precision technology at last year’s show. Look for new cutting edge software and machinery at this year’s event.

“Everything is on pace,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national shows manager, after his weekly meeting with the site developing engineers and construction managers Thursday afternoon. “All construction scheduled for this year will be completed in time for this year’s show.”

All the major earth-moving will be finished this week. Then it’s on to the final phase of the grass seeding and perimeter fence installation which starts next week. Some of the upgraded show features that are nearly finished include permanent restrooms and hard surfaced roads – two features that really enhance the comfort factors for show visitors. Field crops and plots are planted and growing, as well. Electricity and telephone systems are 60% completed.

Long-term facilities for the show known as the “Super Bowl of Agriculture” have been established to avoid weather-related interruptions and to provide visitors and exhibitors with even better show experiences. Visitors at the 2005 and 2007 shows held at its first permanent biennial location near Decatur, Ill., have been very impressed with the show’s upgraded facilities. The show now rotates between the Boone and Decatur sites. The Boone site is developed on nearly 600 acres at the intersection of U.S. Highway 30 and Iowa Highway 17.


Precision Mitigates High Input Costs

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgCrop input costs are continually rising, but PrecisionAg.com reports that precision farming technology is helping keep overall costs at bay. A recent article suggests farmers are receiving substantial paybacks for investing in precision agriculture technology.

“Research shows that growers are gaining back their investment in precision ag technology faster than we thought – often in just one to three years,” says K. Elliott Nowels, director of the PrecisionAg Institute. “And they are saving from $15 to $39 per acre by using inputs more efficiently with precision ag tools, depending on crop and region of the country.”

Add in the stewardship element of precision agriculture – using inputs when and where they are needed — and it’s a very compelling case for adoption. “There’s never been a better time to adopt this technology,” says Nowels.

Additional results indicate the following:

• Eighty-five percent (85%) of corn growers, 88 percent of cotton growers and 100 percent of soybean growers indicated their operation has been more profitable using precision ag technology.

• The average input savings per acre for these precision ag users (inputs including seed, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and time/labor) $19 per acre for corn, $18.50/A. for beans and up to $39/A. for cotton.

• Fertilizer cost-savings led the way, coming in at $4 to $13 per acre depending on crop.

• The top benefits growers listed from their use of precision ag technology were 1.) the ability to apply chemicals and fertilizer where needed, 2.) greater profitability due to lower input costs, and 3.) identification of poor producing areas of their fields.

PrecisionAg.com reports that the data from this research was gathered from in-depth written responses and telephone follow-up interviews with corn, soybean and cotton growers.

Click here to view the entire article.

Cotton, Precision Ag in the News

Precision Repair Shop Offers Sense of Community

Laura McNamara

taylor.pngA “bad cup of coffee and good conversation” are the two things a group of farmers look forward to nearly every morning in Granger, TX. Jason Schaefer’s article in the Taylor Daily Express reports that as technology continually changes and prices shoot up in a rapidly advancing ag industry, farmers find familiarity and advice through each other at the local Precision Ag Repair.

“You’ve got to have some fun sometime,” Mike Hajda, corn and milo farmer, said in the Precision Ag office Wednesday morning.

Expenses have skyrocketed, evident in the price per ton of fertilizer — up to as much as $460 this year from $150 two years ago, according to Melvin Marek, corn and cotton farmer….

The farmers agree the best prices, the most honest workers and the best repair advice come from Precision Ag, the only place Repa, along with the others, brings his equipment.

“The owners get a lot of business from all over the county,” he said. “They’re good and honest, and they always have decent prices.”

According to Repa, big-business farm equipment dealers charge more for equipment and repair due to increasing overhead costs.

Vrabel said he sees customers from not only all over the county, but also from over Central Texas.

“Word of mouth has been good to us,” said co-owner Tommy Filla…

The group began meeting in the Precision Ag office instead of at the Blackland Co-op Gin down the street about three years ago, Fill said.

“I don’t remember if the gin shut down for a year or something,” Filla said. “It’s still open to them, and a few guys still go over there, but for some reason, they just started coming here.”

A Precision Ag staff member opens the doors at 5:30 a.m. every morning to make the coffee that keeps the farmers going, and the owners give advice and answer repair questions as well as trade their own fair share of jokes and stories…

Click here to read the entire article.

General, Precision Ag in the News

10-Year Precision Veteran

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourAgriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour caught up with John Deere Ag Management Systems Consultant Todd Zimmerman in Auburn, Nebraska. Todd was visiting Arlin Aufenkamp, a farmer who has been using precision farming technology for 10 years. Todd says Arlin started off with mapping technology on his combine, moved to auto steer and has now added auto shut-offs on his sprayers and planters.

You can watch videos of Todd and Arlin explaining the benefits of using these technologies here:

Equipment, GPS, Resources, Video

Time for Precision

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgThe optimal time to invest in precision farming is now. PrecisionAg.com reports that the International Nutrition Plant Institute has come up with some reasons why farmers should embrace precision ag technology today.

  1. Precision agriculture technologies have not always been economical for small to medium-sized farming operations. However, as input costs rise, precision agriculture equipment is becoming less expensive and tools such as guidance systems, yield monitors, and variable-rate fertilizer applicators may now be profitable for nearly all growers.
  2. Some technologies, like RTK auto-steering, can improve efficiency without changing management practices. Using a GPS-guided steering system can eliminate sprayer overlaps and planter skips that can result in lower profits.
  3. Despite the fact that yield monitors have been around over a decade, many growers still don’t fully understand how to use them to improve farming efficiency. This lack of knowledge is being actively addressed in a series of extension programs and classroom courses developed North Carolina State University. This training involves on-farm demonstrations, hands-on classroom training using “Virtual Yield Monitor” custom software, and introduction to spreadsheet-based analysis of yield monitor data, yield-limiting factors, and potential changes in management that could increase yield.
  4. Variable-rate fertilizer applications have been shown to improve efficiency and increase profits in many grower fields. Several universities and USDA-ARS research units have developed strategies for using on-the-go sensor-based applicators to improve fertilizer use efficiency. Profits have come in the form of increased grain yields without increasing total nutrient inputs.
  5. Precision management pays now more than ever.

Click here to view the entire article.

Education, Equipment, Precision Ag in the News

Farmer Designs “Precision Track

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourFarmer inventor Ned Meyer is in his third year of applying “Precision Track” technology to his farm. Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour visited Ned Farmer to talk about his concept of the functions and potential uses for his “Precision Track” field system design. Ned says his farm uses the system for both planting and cultivating. The performance, he says, is impressive.

You can watch videos of Ned explaining his “Precision Track” field system here:

Equipment, GPS, Video

John Deere Guides Tractors in Nebraska

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourJohn McDonald of Phillips, Nebraska says GPS guidance systems take the stress of planters, reducing planters fatigue while running the tractgor in 14 hour shifts. Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour stopped by John’s farm to get a look at how GPS technology is being used in Nebraska. John says there’s a generational learning curve with GPS guidance systems technology. His kids, he explains, pick up the new applications with the snap of a finger. He says for him, it’s not that easy. But, he says planters just “gotta think like a computer.”

You can watch the video of John here:

Equipment, GPS, Video

Growing Precision In Kansas

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourAgriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour recently stopped in Beloit, Kansas and spoke with certified crop advisor Roger Barrett. The Farmway Cooperative representative says the use of precision ag tools is growing in his farming region. He says there are a lot of growers in his area that are delving into new precision applications and technologies, like the ones John Deere offers.

You can watch a video of Roger talking about precision farming in his area here:

Equipment, Software, Video

Guidance and RTK a Hit with Ohio Farmers

Laura McNamara

opf.pngMore than half of all commercial farmers in Ohio are using precision technology in their operations. A survey from Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics surveyed 2,500 farmers with sales of $50,000 or more last year. Agricultural economist Marv Batte says the survey shows that 55 percent of commercial farmers have adopted at lease one piece of precision agriculture equipment as of 2007.

Guidance systems, like real-time kinetic (RTK) auto steer, continue to be one of the top precision agriculture components of choice for Ohio farmers, and the most rapidly adopted precision equipment, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economics survey.

Precision guidance systems and yield monitors were the most frequently adopted precision farming equipment, with about 32 percent of all commercial farmers adopting them to date.

Precision guidance systems have been adopted by farmers most readily over the past eight years. Since 1999, adoption rates have jumped 27 percent. Adoption rates of yield monitors increased 15 percent since 1999.

“Precision guidance systems are popular because they are easy to use, are getting more inexpensive, improve efficiency, save time and labor, and can be used for a variety of field work,” said Batte, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. “With precision guidance equipment, the potential savings are numerous and immediate.”

Other precision agriculture components being rapidly adopted by Ohio farmers include georeferenced grid soil sampling; satellite GPS receiver; boundary mapping; variable rate application of lime, phosphorus and potassium; and aerial or satellite field photography.

Batte says the least adopted precision equipment is variable rate applicaiton of pesticides and micronutrients. He adds that the technology with the most potential is variable rate seeding, the adoption rate of which has increased nearly 5 percent since 1999.
According to the survey, the least adopted precision agriculture equipment is variable rate application of pesticides and micronutrients.

Click here to find more results from the survey.

Equipment, GPS, Software

StarFire 2 Sales Strong

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAg PrecisionAg.com has released its GPS Receiver Technology update, offering insight to the success and strengths of various GPS equipment. John Deere’s StarFire 2 was highlighted as a receiver that’s maintaining strong sales:

John Deere Engineer Curtis Hay finds RTK growth — both in network expansion and individual use – is still quite strong, and “StarFire 2 sales are quite good. It points to a growing want and need for centimeter-level accuracy, which would make applications such as strip till or drip tape quite reasonable,” he says.

Click here to view the entire article at PrecisionAg.com.

Equipment, GPS