Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

India’s national newspaper, The Hindu, has a front page article in their online edition titled “What precision farming is and is not.” It shows how other countries are working to develop the technologies we have here in the United States.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

One other great advantage of the GPS system of farming involves the ability of the farmer to achieve greater efficiency in time control of his farm operations. This is because the GPS system enables him to operate his equipment round the clock irrespective of factors restricting visibility such as fog, darkness, or even showers. The sub-inch accuracy of GPS-based operations provides the farmer maximum efficiency with equipment operations.

Precision Ag in the News

John Deere Sponsors National Ag Day

Chuck Zimmerman

National Agriculture DayIt’s National Ag Day and John Deere is a major partner of the event via the Agriculture Council of America. You’ll find a lot of good information on their website.

Today’s farmers work nearly 3 1/2 times as much land compared to their predecessors back in 1900 and consolidation is continuing to change farmer’s equipment needs. “There is an on-going consolidation in agriculture that results in fewer farmers farming more acres,” says Doug DeVries, Sr. Vice President Agricultural Marketing for North America, Australia and Asia at John Deere in Moline, Ill. “Their needs for equipment are changing. Their expectations for what the equipment will do for their farming operation are also changing.”

Besides all the major equipment launches of the past several years by John Deere, it’s in the area of precision technology that some of the most beneficial innovations are taking place to help farmers remain profitable.

John Deere also provides technology services to farmers that include wireless information transfer and satellite guidance systems for driving equipment. With JD Link™ farmers can have information about their equipment and production operations transferred directly from the equipment in the field to a Web site for easy access later. This can greatly improve their efficiency and increase the life of their equipment by ensuring more timely maintenance. Read More


Precision Agriculture Academy

Chuck Zimmerman

Oklahoma Precision AgStudents have an opportunity to learn about precision agriculture this summer.

Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee is hosting the “Summer Academy for Advanced Technologies: Precision Agriculture” from June 8 – 13 for Oklahoma students in eighth, ninth and tenth grades. Academy students will explore precision agriculture technologies including the use of GIS (Geographic Information systems), GPS (Global Positioning systems) and their applications in precision agriculture. Students will gain insight to precision agriculture technologies through hands-on exercises using state-of-the-art equipment while experiencing college life on campus and in the classroom. They will also visit graduates on the job and learn first-hand how a college degree can help them realize their career goals. Students will reside in the college dormitories and enjoy entertainment activities during the evenings.

Chad Spurlock, Director of OSU-Okmulgee’s College Readiness Center, says, “Students at the Academy will be able to simulate an agricultural business enterprise. The academy will integrate and connect the learning from multiple jobs found in agricultural career clusters.”

Some of the subject areas are crop, range and soil science; agriculture business and economics; GPS/GIS/remote sensing installation; maintenance and applications; agriculture electronics; and data processing and image analysis.

Here’s where you can get the application form (pdf). Applications are accepted between March 15 and April 1.

Education, University

Precision in the UK

Cindy Zimmerman

Farmers GuardianFarmers Guardian of the UK has a series of articles about a Precision Farming Event held last week in England.

UK Precision EventAccording to the event website, they showcase “the best practical solutions available to implement precision farming. A full day technical trade exhibition with working demonstrations and a seminar programme packed with real-time examples of how to get the maximum benefits from precision farming. Its aim is to bring together farmers and the trade under one roof to discuss the best possible solutions for the farm business.”

Precision in the UKHere’s an excerpt from Farmers Guardian reporter Mervyn Bailey’s coverage of the show:

The merits of GPS auto-steering are now well known, allowing farmers and contractors to make the most of each pass, saving time and fuel. But it has also helped encourage them to go further down the precision farming line.

A number of manufacturers were saying that, while sales of steering aids remains steady, there is now more interest in variable rate application and automating sprayer boom control.

Manufacturers are also working closer together to record the work carried out in the field and help make use of it in the office.

Outside, tractor manufacturers were showing just how precise their automatic steering systems could be.

(Photo credit – Farmers Guardian)

GPS, Precision Ag in the News

Precision Planting

Cindy Zimmerman

With seed costs getting higher every year, it pays to be precise when planting to avoid wasting any of that precious potential profit.

Rob Rippchen, division marketing manager for John Deere’s seeding group, was the planter go-to guy at the 2008 Commodity Classic and he was so busy talking to interested growers that I had trouble getting him away for an interview. When I did, he told me what was new this year and the key word he used was “precisely.”

“What’s new this year is we have a central insecticide system for our Pro-Series row units that allows us to precisely place insecticide treatment for rootworm in corn,” Rob told me. “The other improvement that we made was to our vacuum meters to allow growers to more precisely place seed corn in the ground.”

He says growers are looking for even emergence and even spacing for corn. “It’s not only having the accurate spacing between the plants but having the proper depth control that’s done with the row unit,” he says.

Through John Deere Ag Management Services, they also can add the auto shut-off capabilities to the planter. “Another way to save some seed costs as well as eliminate the yield drag that happens when you double plant corn.”

Check out what’s new in seeding and planting equipment on-line here

You can listen to my interview with Rob from Commodity Classic here: Listen to MP3 file Rob Rippchen Interview (2:30 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Equipment

Classic Precision Demonstration

Cindy Zimmerman

John Deere PrecisionAt the 2008 Commodity Classic in Nashville, hundreds of farmers were interested in finding out more how precision technology can help them save time and money.

Laura Robson was the expert on hand, demonstrating the John Deere GS2 Display which provides excellent visibility of spraying functions while operating in the field. The GS2 Display is used for rate control, guidance, on-screen mapping, field documentation, map-based prescriptions, and Swath Control Pro.

Take a look at Laura in action:

Commodity Classic, Video

Precision Soil Sampling

Cindy Zimmerman

AgRoboticsOne of the Top 10 agricultural innovations showcased at the recent World Ag Expo’s New Product Center was the AutoProbe by AgRobotics.

AutoprobeAccording to World Ag Expo, the AutoProbe is “the first high speed, on-the-go soil sampler for precision soil sampling. Samples are collected at a precise depth and interval over a section of land. On a 2.5 acre grid, twenty cores are pulled to constitute a sample. This is done at a constant speed of 8mph. The machine is guided and steered with GPS.”

The AgRobotics site features a seven minute video of the AgRobotics AutoProbe™ in action.

AgRobotics is an Arkansas-based company that was founded in 2006 by a third generation farmer and agricultural entrepreneur. According to the website, company founder Jim Burton has over 35 years of day-to-day farming experience and an education in Agricultural Engineering, and has experienced first-hand the advancement of digital technology on an operating farm.

GPS, Precision Ag in the News

Precision is Standard on New Tractors

Cindy Zimmerman

Jerry GriffithIf you are in the market for a new tractor and are maybe still using an older model – be prepared to learn some new tricks with your new ride.

Jerry Griffith, marketing manager for the John Deere 9030 series ag tractors, was at the 2008 Commodity Classic last week in Nashville talking with growers from all over the country interested in purchasing new machinery this year or next. He says some precision features are now standard on new tractors.

“Couple of years ago we started offered all of our AutoTrac integrated components as a free promotion,” he says. “Beyond that, all you really need is the receiver, the display and the software to do the AutoTrac system.”

Griffith says their dealers provide excellent support for growers to meet their precision needs. “A lot of them anymore have specialists who work with our AMS components to provide the solutions that our customers need in the farming world in the precision ag applications,” Jerry said.

One of the benefits of guidance systems and other precision features is helping farmers work longer hours with less fatigue and Jerry says one of the features on the new 9030 series lets them do that more comfortably with an air cushion suspension system that provides “the best ride in the industry.”

You can listen to my interview with Jerry here: Listen to MP3 file Jerry Griffith Interview (3:40 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Displays, Equipment

Precision Ag Works

Cindy Zimmerman

One of the best places on the web to find good information about precision agriculture is, an on-line publication of Meister Media Worldwide.

At the 2008 Commodity Classic, I had the opportunity to visit with group publisher Al Strohmaier about Precision Ag – the website, as well as the PrecisionAg Buyer’s Guide, and PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Precision Ag Al StrohmaierAl told me how the PrecisionAg Institute was founded in 2006 as a way to foster technology transfer, wider adoption and increasingly effective use of precision agriculture technology worldwide. “The first year we had 13 what we call founding partners,” Al said. “We used that to fund grower research on wheat, corn, soybean and cotton on precision ag acceptance.”

They also did research on how precision ag benefits growers and now they have started a new initiative called “PrecisionAg Works,” which they were highlighting at the Classic.

“We’ve got quantitative information now about profitability, how much return per acre extra, and we’re taking this message to the streets,” Al told me. “Precision is going to pay off more and more and more and that’s what the institute is all about and that’s what PrecisionAg Works is all about.”

You can listen to my interview with Al from Commodity Classic here: Listen to MP3 file Al Strohmaier Interview (5:20 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic