Cotton Growers Embrace Precision

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgAbout half of the nation’s cotton growers are practicing precision agriculture. reports that the use of precision technology among cotton growers grew from just 18 percent in 2001 to 48 percent in 2005.

There are a number of reasons for this increase. First, changes in farming practices requires more precision and repeatability, such as the use of subsurface irrigation and strip-till. Guidance products with high levels of accuracy such as real-time kinematic (RTK) with sub-inch repeatability provide the accuracy needed for repeat passes over the same guidance line. Second, rising input costs encourage the use of products that reduce overlap. AutoTrac (automatic steering) reduces pass-to-pass overlap which on average reduces input cost by 5-10%, and GS2 Rate Controller and Swath Control (automatic boom section control capability) products reduce inputs applied to previously covered acres. On average this is an additional 3% reduction in seed and pesticide costs. Third, the growers are looking for increased efficiency of products applied based on site-specific information. Variable rate applications are being utilized to vary seeding, defoliant, growth regulator, and fertilizer rates.

The report also suggests that a growing shortage of labor has influenced growers to look to precision as an alternate means of improving productivity with less man power. says growers are most interested in John Deere‘s ITEC Pro – or Intelligent Total Equipment Control.

Cotton, Equipment, GPS

Auto Steering Cruises to the Top of the Tech List

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgAuto steering technology is being hailed as one the most useful farm technology to date. A commentary on reports that it is the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture. In the commentary, Paul Schrimpf, the group editor of the CropLife Media Group, highlights what’s being called the hands-free revolution:

Given all the benefits and the current payback potential for saving chemical, fertilizer, fuel, and seed, I had to concur. Last night, I got some affirmation from a cotton grower that’s three years into his use of a real-time kinematic steering system. I was interviewing him for a story that will run in the June issue of Cotton Grower magazine, one of our sister publications.

The first question Jared Fiveash and his family asked their local Trimble dealer was, what can the system do for their farm — today, the question is, “what can’t this system do?” he says.

Jared uses it for every field activity, from harvest to seed placement to application. There have been input savings that he doesn’t offer an estimate on, but one of the most profound and important benefits has been reduced fatigue, increased productivity, and decreased labor needs.

“You can’t find folks around here who want to run the equipment anymore, this situation is terrible,” says Jared. “Automatic steering has really helped the labor issue for us.”

As for reduced fatigue, he and his father can go an extra hour or two every day, “and the next morning we’re ready to go again.”

I’ve been guilty of focusing on the search for monetary paybacks on technology like auto-steer, and while this is important there is clearly a quality of life aspect to the hands-free revolution that’s a big part, if not the biggest part, of why it’s gotten so big, so fast.

Equipment, Software

Precision Beginners and Experts Mark Your Calenders…

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAg…for the 9th International Conference on Precision Agriculture. The Conference will be held July 20th – 23rd, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center, Denver, CO.

Five specialized conference “tracks,” which include more than 300 unique educational sessions will be offered for participants. The “A to Z” track is designed specifically for experts like crop consultants, advisers, agronomists, producers, and extension agents.


A Progression to Precision

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourThe Certified Crop Adviser that Successful Farming’s Crop Tech Tour tracked down at Lyle Mabus’s farm was also offering his expertise to farmer Jim Erdahl of Blue Earth, MN. In this video Jim Erdahl talks about how farmers’ ability to collect data has changed with technology over the years.

You can find more videos of both Bryan and Jim at Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour site where Bryan and Jim talk more about managing data and using sit specific variety maps.

Equipment, Video

CCA Helps Farmer Get Online with Precision

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourSuccessful Farming’s Crop Tech Tour tracks down a certified crop adviser in the field. Lyle Mabus wanted to learn more about how precision agriculture could be introduced on his farm. Bryan Arndorfer of Precision Management Services was there to offer Lyle the instruction he was looking for and helps Lyle maximize precision technology for farming applications like variable rate nitrogen.

You can find 3 more videos of Bryan’s work at Lyle’s farm at Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour site.

Education, Equipment, Software, Video

Reducing Input Costs Through Precision in Mississippi

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourCulger isn’t the only place you’ll find precision ag in Mississippi. Successful Farming’s Crop Tech Tour interviewed Hank Kelly about how he uses precision technology at his 8,000 acre farm in Holmes County, MS. Hank says though input costs might change with the use of precision farming techniques like remote imagery variable rate line, overall precision ag equipment and software keepinput costs under control and increase crop yields.

Education, Equipment, Software, Video

Precision Technology Mean Less Equipment

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourSuccessful Farming’s Crop Tech Tour promised to bring video straight from the field and the project has delivered. There are currently 27 videos posted online at Agriculture Online.

In a video from just outside Cruger, Mississippi, Mark Harris talks about managing a farm that has integrated precision technology. He says with precision ag software, his farm needs less heavy machinery.

Education, Equipment, Video

Tracking New Media Coverage of New Farming Technology

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourRemember the post Chuck did about Successful Farming’s project to take a look at how farmers are using new technology in the field? Well, Successful Farming’s Crop Tech Tour has already made a number of stops at farms around the country and precision ag is a popular subject.

Agriculture Online Editor John Walter explains what the Crop Tech Tour is all about and how precision farming will fit in to the project:

“This made it possible to get out and provide farmers with more current and interactive information on crop production technology. You know we’ve always had farm shows, and field days and conferences. But, now we can really goet out on the land and report in real time what’s happening with how innovative technologies are doing out in the field, in season and even in real time. So we can do that with video and audio podcasts. And show how crop production how crop technologies are doing through the growing season, during the planting season through harvest. That’s what we’re doing with crop tech tour we’re going to be combining traditional reporting with internet-based multi-media communications to show farmers and others what’s happening with new production practices and precision agriculture in particular.”

You can follow the tour through the project’s interactive map. The map also shows where you can find local certified crop advisers.

Crop Tech Tour Interactive Map



Laura McNamara

text.pngFarmers who use precision agriculture seem to possess a command over cutting edge technology. What other modern technology do farmers and growers take advantage of? Precision Ag conducted a poll to find out if farmers are hip with texting and wireless internet…

Q. Do you text message for personal or professional communication?

A. A lot of you do, which to some degree surprised me. More than half of you said that you use text messages to communicate. Maybe some of you would be willing to send comments to this blog to let me know why and how you use texting. It seems like a pretty inefficient and clunky way to keep in touch, but perhaps some of you can straighten me out.

Q. Do you use primarily wireless or hard-wired Internet?

A. I was much less surprised to see that just a bit more than half of respondents are using wireless Internet. The technology is so much better and simpler to use than it was just a year or two ago.


More Control with Swath Control Pro

Laura McNamara

AMS OfficeSwath Control Pro is getting more popular with growers every season. Kirk Swihart says that’s because the technology reduces overlap and helps farmers improve their input costs. Kirk is the Technical Assistant Supervisor with John Deere. He reminds growers that all 4000 series sprayers are compatible with the Swath Control Pro. He says growers do need John Deere’s StarFire application or another third party receiver to use the technology. He adds that Swath Control Pro offers farmers an improved coverage map, and, coupled with John Deere’s AutoTrac, growers can use it to cover more acres in one day than ever before.

Here is the second part of an interview that Chuck did recently with Kirk: Listen to MP3 Kirk Swihart Interview (4 min. MP3)

Audio, Equipment, Resources, Software