Aligned Farming Enhances Precision

Laura McNamara

Measuring progress is key to determining which farming techniques are more profitable than others for growers. Clay Mitchell, a farmer in NE Iowa says aligned-farming is a precision farming technique that allows growers to measure their progress, particularly compared to angled-farming.

“What’s special about aligned farming systems is that it allows us to measure them,” Clay said. “We can finally observe how we are doing. It’s very difficult to do that in angled farming systems.”

Clay says aligned farming systems help farmers actually achieve their target rates. Plus, he adds, in his research, aligned farming systems compacted the ground less, touching the earth 17 percent of the time as compared to the conventional 85 to 100 percent ground contact.

“It’s a really powerful solution to compaction,” Clay said.

I interviewed Clay about his work with aligned farming and how it can work with raised-bed farming and even strip-till farming. He also commented on how precision played an important role in mitigating crop loss from this year’s flooding. You can listen to my interview with Clay here:

Clay Mitchell, a farmer in NE Iowa

Audio, Research

Auto-Steer Compliments Skip-Row Farming

Laura McNamara

Specialized farming practices paired with specialized farming technology can mean “special” results for farmers if you ask Robert Klein. Robert is an Extension Cropping Systems Specialist with the University of Nebraska in North Platte. He says when it comes to seeding and planting plots for crop performance evaluation, using GPS-RTK Auto Steering technology with skip-row planting methods can boost yields.

Robert explains that moisture benefits from skip-row planting in corn, for example, optimizes crop performance and results in crops that are less stressed and won’t be delayed. But, he adds skip-row planting can create time-consuming challenges for growers. That is with the old method. Farmers could spend up to two hours in the field flagging routes with a system no more modern than using a measuring tape. But, Robert says, using RTK Auto-Steer technology cuts the skip-row planting process down to minutes.

“We’ve seen in one case as I showed the results, yields that went from 40 bushels per acre to over 80 bushel per acre by using the skip row system,” Robert said.

Plus, he adds, farmers will have perfect rows that make harvesting easier.

“Another example is where a farmer had had 60 bushel on dry land corn using the regular 30-inch row planting,” Robter said. “With plant two, skip two he moved that to 100 bushels per acre. And he said that’s really a nice way to do it. In fact, that farmer says, ‘I think I finally figured out how to plant dry land corn in western Nebraska.'”

I interviewed Robert about his research shows that precision techniques work seamlessly with skip-row farming. You can listen to my interview here:
Robert Klein, the Extension Cropping Systems Specialist with the University of Nebraska in North Platte, Nebraska

Audio, Conservation, Equipment, GPS, Research, Resources, Software, University

Precision FIT with Pioneer

Laura McNamara

Pioneer is offering a new, free service that it says can give farmers more: more information and more uses for that information. Pioneer Hi-Bred’s FIT mapping combines GPS data with a free mapping service offering farmers detailed information about their crops, where they’re growing their crops and whether they’re growing them in way that maximizes their resources. Did I mention it’s free?

I caught up with Lisa Baumhover at the 2008 Farm Progress Show and we talked about just what FIT mapping does offer farmers and how easy it is to use. You can listen to my interview with Lisa here:

Lisa Baumhover, Spatial Data Analyst for Pioneer

Audio, Events, GPS

The “Stars” Have it with Precision

Laura McNamara

Farmers wanting to ease into precision technology have new equipment options from John Deere. The ag machinery company has unveiled three new products within its GreenStar line. John Deere says the GreenStar Lightbar, GreenStar 2 Display 1800 and the StarFire 300 Reciever are meant to help operators get started with precision farming. The new gadgets can also help enhance older systems. John Deere has launched its SeedStar 2 monitoring system.

The GreenStar Lightbar offers 27 tracking LEDs to guide the farmers operating precision steering systems in the field. John Deere says operators should steer their tractors based on what lights illuminated. Green means you’re on track. Red means you’re not. Each red light means operators are off by four inches.

Farmers looking for a little more pizazz, but still want a tool that’s easy to understand should consider the GreenStar 2 Display 1800. The new, 7-inch display features state-of-the-art, full-color screens meant to help farmers manage GreenStar applications. The display can be used for AutoTrac and on-screen mapping.

If growers are looking for a new receiver for their GreenStar systems, John Deere’s new StarFire 300 should offer them an economical option. The satellite WAAS receiver boasts 13-inch accuracy and mounts easily with a magnet.

The SeedStar 2 monitoring system combines what used to be on two monitors down into one full-color display. The system can be used on planters and air seeders to help growers improve accuracy and cover more acres in less time.

I spoke with Kim Fletcher, Marketing Representative with John Deere Ag Management Solutions. You can listen to the interview here:
Kim Fletcher, Marketing Representative for John Deere AMS talks about new GreenStar products and SeedStar 2

Audio, Dealers, Equipment, GPS

RowCommand and RowSense Offer Guidance for Planters and Combines

Laura McNamara

AutoTrac guidance is no longer just for tractors. Farmers can now use assisted steering technology on combines. John Deere‘s AutoTrac RowSense gives growers the ability to use precision guidance on the combines for harvesting corn. Mechanical feeler data from new row sensors located on the corn heads are integrated with GPS data from John Deere’s StarFire Receiver to give growers tighter steering control. RowSense can manuever around curves, through waterways or through weedy areas.

This spring farmers can harness “technology for efficient planter row control” with John Deere’s new RowCommand. The new technology lets farmers efficiently plant on the go with automated control. John Deere says the RowCommand will help growers reduce their seed input costs while also eliminating yield drag associated with double-planting. RowCommand can help growers reduce overplanting in point rows, John Deere says, while also helping them maximize placement .

I spoke with Ag Management Solutions Marketing Representative Kim Fletcher about the RowSense and RowCommand. You can listen to the interview here:
Kim Fletcher, Marketing Representative for John Deere AMS talks about RowCommand and RowSense

Audio, Dealers, Equipment, GPS

John Deere Offers New “Toys” for Precision

Laura McNamara

John Deere has recently announced that it’s offering a slew of different precision agriculture products. Some are available now and others are scheduled to be released in the spring or fall of 2009. Kim Fletcher, Marketing Representative with John Deere Ag Management Solutions has been hosting several live presentations showcasing many of the new products and some old favorites at the 2008 Farm Progress Show John Deere exhibit. I managed to grab video of one of her presentations. Check out the video below. I’ll also be posting a couple interviews with her about the products in the next few days.

John Deere RowCommand: New Technology for Efficient Planter Row Control
John Deere AutoTrac RowSense
John Deere GreenStar Lightbar, GreenStar 2 Display 1800 and StarFire 300 Reciever
John Deere SeedStar 2 Monitoring System
John Deere iGuide

John Deere Precision Ag Products from Laura McNamara on Vimeo.

Dealers, Displays, Equipment, GPS, Video

Biotech and Precision Pay

Laura McNamara

Since hybrid seed technology works so seamlessly with precision technology, I figured it would be more than relevant to mention that farmers who use Monsanto Advanced Technology are eligible for lower risk insurance premiums in seven additional states. The attractive insurance premiums are offered through a revised risk management biotechnology endorsement.

Farmers in 11 states who plant a majority of their corn acres using hybrid seeds featuring YieldGard® Plus with Roundup Ready® Corn 2, YieldGard VT Triple® and YieldGard VT Triple PRO™ technology from Monsanto Company will have an opportunity to lower their crop insurance premiums in 2009. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors of the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved the expansion of a Risk Management Biotechnology Endorsement for the 2009 crop year. The program is an expansion of the 2008 pilot originally approved as the Biotech Yield Endorsement(SM) Program, or BYE(SM) Program.

In 2009 the program will be available in the following additional states: Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These expansion states join the original four pilot states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota.

The program lowers premiums for non-irrigated corn producers who plant qualifying hybrids in the approved states and also includes irrigated acres in Kansas and Nebraska. The cost of a total policy premium during the 2008 BYE(SM) pilot program was reduced on average by more than $3 per acre on policies such as Actual Production History, Revenue Assurance, and Crop Production Coverage. Savings with the 2009 pilot are expected to be similar. To be eligible for the premium discount, farmers must plant at least 75 percent of their corn acres on an insured unit basis including replanted
acres to corn hybrids containing YieldGard VT Triple, YieldGard VT Triple PRO, or YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 technologies.


Farming for the Future

Laura McNamara

Simon Blackmore is changing the future of farming with his Unibots project (see post), but he’s also farming for the future with the European project Future Farm. But, Simon says, the project is all about implementing the technologies of today:

“The purpose of Future Farm is to take a lot of the technologies and processes that we’ve been developing in precision agriculture and actually integrate them together into a farm management situation,” said Simon. “So we’re not going to be developing necessarily any new technologies or any new real ideas but learn how to bring them together.”

Robotics, biofuels, energy self-sufficiency and particularly precision agriculture are all key aspects to the European project.

“We’re also looking at the socio-economic aspects. Looking at biofuels, and we also have one part looking at robotics,” Simon said.”

Simon says simplifying the precision farming techniques of today is a big part of thoroughly integrating it in agriculture’s future:

“Well that’ s an issue of adoption and I’ve actually written some papers on adoption where we’ve been looking at why precision farming hasn’t actually gone into the mainstream,” Simon said. “And one of the main reasons is as I’ve said, this level of complexity. As scientists and engineers we can produce a map of many many different things, soil types, nutrient holding capacity and so on. But actually how many of these things are relevant to management decision and the secondly even if they are relevant the tools that make them available aren’t readily available for the farmer. So another aspect to the problem with the adoption of precision is the timeliness. So therefore we have the knowledge but we don’t necessarily have all the tools and those tools are not integrated, so these are the aspects we’re trying to build.”

I interviewed Simon about what the future of farming looks like for the EU. You can listen to my interview here:

Simon Blackmore, Project Manager of Future Farm

Audio, Education, GPS, Research, Resources Newsletter

Chuck Zimmerman NewsletterThe latest edition of the newsletter is available. You can find it online here. The newsletter is published 3 times a year.

If you didn’t receive the newsletter and would like subscribe then you may do so using this link.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

  • Hands-free AutoTrac Universal Steering Upgraded
  • StarFire RTK Networks Grow
  • Manage Harvest Data for Profit
  • Improved Yield Monitor Moisture Tracking
  • Valuable Links

Precision Progress in Iowa

Laura McNamara

The 2008 Farm Progress Show is just around the corner. Both Chuck and I will be on-site providing constant updates throughout the event, August 26th through 28th. I’m sure we’ll find plenty of information on precision agriculture, so be sure to check back here for the latest precision farming news from Boone, Iowa.

The show is boasting the following for participants and visitors:

  • Field demonstrations: harvesting and tillage
  • Ride ‘n Drive
  • New product introductions
  • GPS display and demonstrations
  • Seed and crop technology plots
  • Marketing seminars
  • Cattle handling demonstrations
  • Equine events
  • Antique tractors and equipment
  • Crafts and collectible farm toys
  • 75-acre exhibit field featuring hundreds of top agribusinesses from around the world
Dealers, Displays, Equipment, Events, International