Variable-Rate Fertilizer Gains Speed and Precision

Kurt Lawton

The cost of fertilizer has more growers looking for increased efficiency. And growers I talk to who use soil sampling, fertility maps and the variable-rate technology of precision farming are very pleased with the results.

One tool that growers are excited about is the new high-speed anhydrous toolbar that John Deere introduced last summer. The 2510 Series of nutrient applicators is designed for high-speed application (10 mph) with minimal soil disturbance. And growers can achieve variable-rate control with the GreenStar 2 (GS2) Rate Controller.

“We’ve designed these tools for different applications and are introducing the following new model configurations,” says Dave Wendt, product manager, John Deere Des Moines Works. “The 2510H is for high-speed application with low soil disturbance, the 2510C is for conventional application, and the 2510S is for strip-till/conservation tillage applications.

Leading the pack, is the highly productive 2510H Nutrient Applicator which features a revolutionary new design that allows operators to cover more acres in less time, at field speeds of ten miles per hour. Equipped with precision-injection technology, it’s capable of applying anhydrous ammonia at high speeds with minimal soil disturbance.

“These field speeds enable productivity rates approaching 40 acres per hour,” explains Wendt. “This level of productivity translates to 20 to 50 percent more revenue generated per hour than a similarly sized conventional applicator.”

The 2510H delivers three-season capability–from fall-applied anhydrous, to preplant applications, to sidedress season. “Sidedress season is when the “big bar” productivity in a compact row-crop package really pays off,” says Wendt. “Due to the low-disturbance design of the applicator, it’s able to apply anhydrous soon after planting and triples the typical sidedress application window. This allows the operator more time and flexibility in the field to complete sidedress applications.”

Studies have also proven that producers can reduce their nitrogen rates when sidedressing compared to fall application. At today’s fertilizer and corn prices, this adds up to considerable savings for the producer.

Nebraska Farmer magazine took a look at the technology last fall. 


Company Announcement, Corn, Equipment, Tillage

World’s Largest Precision Planter

Kurt Lawton

The 90-ft. planter has now been eclipsed, by a whopping 30%. 120 feet of precision planting packed into the new John Deere/Bauer Built DB120. It was introduced at the recent National Farm Machinery Show, where offered an up close and personal look at it.

Corn & Soybean Digest offered a profile on the new planter, talking to Deere’s Rob Rippchen.

“As growers get bigger, they’re looking for more productivity from their equipment to plant more acres per day,” says Rob Rippchen, Deere’s division marketing manager for the new planter. “At 120 ft., the DB120 has 30% more productivity than our 36-row, DB90 planter and will match up wit h our 12-row corn heads.” Depending on field conditions, the DB120 should plant 90-100 acres/hour at the recommended 5-5½ mph, according to Rippchen.

It’s not just big, it’s high-tech. “The DB120 is a front-fold, 5-section, flex-frame planter equipped with CCS RefugePlus and Pro-Series XP row units,” Rippchen says. “The planter will be offered with 125 bu. of seed capacity, SeedStar 2 monitoring and variable-rate seed drives, pneumatic down force and RowCommand as standard equipment.” Front-mounted coulters or row cleaners are optional.

The DB120’s Frame basically is a bigger version of the company’s DB90 planter built by Vaughn Bauer, Bauer Built Manufacturing Inc., Paton, IA. The DB120’s outer wings are 30-ft. sections, rather than the 15-ft. outer wings on the DB90. The three center sections on both frames measure 20 ft. The DB120’s new design eliminates marker arms and instead relies on GPS guidance for planting accuracy.

What’s the future for planter size?  “At this point, 120 ft. is a practical limit. You need to go in 30- or 40-ft. increments and I have a hard time getting my head around a 150-ft. planter,” Rippchen and Bauer say. “The issue isn’t the weight in the field, but transporting the unit down the road. That puts the most load on the drawbar at the highest speed. We won’t introduce anything that our tractors can’t handle.”

 Seed distribution would be an issue for a larger planter, adds Bauer. “It’s no problem building the frame, but we would have to rethink how we deliver seed.”



Precision Farming Technologies Improve Profits

Kurt Lawton

NEATAThe message that technology of precision farming allows greater efficiency was heard loud and clear from presenters at the ninth annual Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association conference, recently held in Grand Island.

As reported in the Grand Island Independent, Program coordinator and University of Nebraska Extension educator Dave Varner, says Nebraska farmers are on the cutting edge.

“Our Nebraska farmers are among the leaders in the nation in adopting these new technologies, such as the GPS auto steer technology that has taken the industry by storm,” Varner said.

Along with improving operational efficiencies, Varner said farmers are now farming more acres with fewer resources and “they are looking to get more profit out of each acre.”

“This technology allows them to look at each acre individually and to fine-tune their inputs and to really monitor their yields year-in-and-year-out to see, over the long run, what farming operations and inputs are returning on their investments,” Varner said.

An example of how improved technology has increased agricultural productivity is the ever-increasing yields of corn and soybeans over the last decade despite weather challenges, such as drought, strong winds, heavy rains and flooding.

Varner also sees big technology strides being made in water use efficiency. “You are going to see this technology turning toward water conservation and efficiency,” he said. “You will see the introduction of technologies that will help farmers keep track of evapotranspiration by field rather than by the region,” Varner said. “You will see them doing it at home, via their cell phone. They will have farm networks that will not only monitor farm moisture and irrigation systems, but other aspects of their farming operations.”


Precision Farming Success Starts With The Seed

Kurt Lawton

You can have the best precision farming technology that exists, but without the right seed matched to the right field and to your farming practices, you won’t realize optimum yield.

Selecting seed genetics is the most important task growers face every fall and winter, because as you know it has a tremendous impact on profitability. And that decision has become much more complex because it involves weeds, disease and insect protection decisions, too.

Pioneer does a good job encouraging growers to select products with the correct agronomic and technology traits that fit each field.

“The most important thing for growers is to know the products,” says Chris Doud, Pioneer agronomist covering northwest Iowa. “Every hybrid and variety has strengths, but growers, along with their seed sales professional, need to decide if the strengths are right for their individual operations and if the weaknesses can be properly managed by matching information on the product profile sheets with their own management practices.

“Growers need to evaluate how the product has done in their area,” says Brent Wilson, Pioneer technical services manager. “Pioneer focuses on localized testing over several years to help growers select the right product for the right acre.”

When choosing products with insect protection, evaluate the pest pressures present in specific locations.

“Sometimes triple-stack products aren’t the best choice for growers,” Doud says. “If a particular insect pressure isn’t at a level that could potentially lower yield for that area, it may not be in the farmer’s best interest to select that specific trait. Growers should choose the proper traits to help protect themselves from potential yield loss. The goal should be to match genetics to the correct environment and manage risks by including key traits to provide added insurance.”

WIth these sound decisions behind you, then you can focus on preparing your planting and spraying technology to help save the most genetic potential from every seed.


Corn, Education, Industry News

Great Deal on GPS Precision Farming Starter Kit

Kurt Lawton

Calling all growers who haven’t experienced the input saving possibilities of GPS-based precision farming. All it takes is $1,400 and a trip to your John Deere GreenStar certified dealer. Within minutes of arriving home, you can plug in a user-friendly GreenStar Lightbar and StarFire 300 receiver and be farming with precision.

You can move the system easily from machine to machine to get year-around cost savings–regardless of application, equipment and cropping practice. The GreenStar Lightbar system:

  • Improves driving accuracy
  • Low price and unbeaten John Deere quality
  • Reduces overlaps and skips thereby saving input costs like fuel, labor, and fertilizer
  • Easy to install and easy to use
  • Ready to go within minutes
  • Moves among your equipment and spreads the savings across applications, throughout the year
And best of all, it’s backed by knowledgeable dealer support that will work closely with you to ensure success. Go visit your John Deere dealer today.
Equipment, GPS

Precision Spraying Pays Environmental Benefits

Cindy Zimmerman

Farm Industry News will be holding a “Precision Technology for Sprayers” seminar at the National Farm Machinery show Friday afternoon – the last in their series of seminars at the show. Several companies, including John Deere, will be giving presentations on their technology at the seminar.

Kim Fletcher with Deere’s Ag Management Solutions gave me a preview of her presentation yesterday. “When it comes to precision applications with John Deere, we primarily focus on the operator, their operation and the environment,” Kim says.

When it comes to the environment, Kim says Deere’s Swath Control Pro is automatic section control for growers, “So they’re not putting as much chemical on the fields and they’re saving on the environment plus they’re saving in the pocketbook too because they’re not buying as much chemical.”

Listen to an interview with Kim here: [audio:]

See more photos here: NFMS 09 Photo Album

Audio, Conservation, Equipment, Industry News

RowSense Makes Sense

Cindy Zimmerman

A new sensing system on corn heads called AutoTrac™ RowSense™ allows precision guidance to be used on combines that are harvesting corn.

“The biggest benefits to the grower include less operator fatigue,” said John Deere combine product specialist Steve Sporrer at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville this week. “We’re also on the row more consistently and it’s an absolute must for down corn.”

The system accurately guides the combine down the row at optimal harvesting speeds and even helps maneuver around curves, through waterways, or in weedy areas.

Read more about it here and listen to an interview with Steve here: [audio:]

See more photos here: NFMS 09 Photo Album

Audio, Equipment

New Precision Tools at Farm Machinery Show

Cindy Zimmerman

The latest in precision technology is on display at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, for both newbies and more seasoned users.

“On one hand we have new products for operators who have yet to get into precision ag,” says Kim Fletcher with John Deere Ag Management Solutions told me. “We came out with an entry level manual guidance system for parallel tracking. We came out with the StarFire 300 receiver, which is a WAAS only GPS receiver that can provide 13 inch pass-to-pass accuracy. And to pair that, we came out with a GreenStar Lightbar.”

For more advanced system users, Kim says they have new products for them as well. “We came out with a GS2 Rate Controller Multi-Product, which can control multiple products or multiple operations at once.”

Another product is Auto-Trac Row Sense. “We fused together data from mechanical row feelers on the corn head along with Auto-Trac GPS guidance to create one of the most accurate, most responsive corn harvesting guidance systems in the industry today,” Kim said.

Kim says they are getting more and more converts to precision every year because it really does save growers time and money. Check out some of the John Deere new products on-line here.

Listen to an interview with Kim here [audio:]

See more photos here: NFMS 09 Photo Album

Equipment, GPS, National Farm Machinery Show, Precision Ag in the News, Research, Software

New John Deere Planter is Precision Driven

Cindy Zimmerman

John Deere unveiled the largest planter in the industry at the 2009 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville this week.

Rob Rippchen, division marketing manager at John Deere seed in Moline, IL says the DB120 “next generation” 120 foot planter is generating a lot of interest at the show. “There’s kind of a ‘wow’ factor,” said Rob. “It’s so wide it can’t even unfold all the way in our booth.” But he says the outer four row units fold over on each end so it is still the same transport width as the DB90 and just about six foot longer in transport length.

“Not only is the planter wide, it’s high-tech,” Rob explains. “You’ll notice that there are no markers on it, most growers are using auto-steer or auto-trac to guide their planters so that allowed us to eliminate the need for markers. But, in addition to that, Row Command – our individual row unit clutch on-off system – is standard on this planter. So, as you come to a point row or do an area of field that you’ve already planted, it shuts the row unit off so that you don’t over-populate in that area of the field.”

The planter will plant somewhere between 90 and 100 acres an hour. John Deere will have a limited number of the new planters running in the fields this spring and will start taking orders for the big boy this summer.

Listen to an interview with Rob here [audio:]

Watch Rob explain some of the DB120 features here:

See more photos here: NFMS 09 Photo Album

Equipment, National Farm Machinery Show, Precision Ag in the News, Video

Ohio Conference Features Precision Agriculture

Kurt Lawton

The popular Ohio State University Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference has a six-hour session on precision agriculture technology topics.

Last year, more than 770 growers, crop consultants and industry representatives from Ohio and surrounding states found big benefits from attending a wide variety of presentations at this conference. This year’s annual meeting is scheduled for February 25, 26 and 27 in Ada, OH at the McIntosh Center of Ohio Northern University.

Precision topics include yield maps to save fertilizer and maximize yields, auto-steering and GPS, variable-rate application for sprayers and planters, site-specific sampling benefits, RTK networks and the costs/benefits of adopting precision technology.

Other topics on the program range from cover crops, grain marketing and weather to scouting, nutrient management, soil and water issues, and much more–including a trader show. And you can check out last year’s presentations online, too.

Education, Events, University