Precision Ag for Fruits and Veggies

Cindy Zimmerman

ISHSThe International Society for Horticultural Science, the International Society of Citriculture, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Foundation are holding an International Symposium on “Application of Precision Agriculture for Fruits and Vegetables.” The symposium will be January 6-9, 2008 in Orlando, Florida.

The main goal of this symposium is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among researchers, academics, professionals and related industries on applying advanced technology and information-based management techniques for fruit and vegetable production. The scientific sessions, poster and technical tours will provide an opportunity to discuss and learn about cutting edge technologies in this area.

The symposium registration deadline has been extended to November 2, 2007. Registration is available on-line.

Education, Events, General

Mid-State Equipment Selling Precision Ag To Dairies

Chuck Zimmerman

Chuck EndresAt the just completed World Dairy Expo one of the exhibitors was Chuck Endres, Mid-State Equipment. He told me that dairy producers are looking at precision agriculture equipment to help them become more efficient.

When it comes to precision equipment he says the biggest benefit to dairy producers is dealing with moisture when making haylage. He says the equipment they’re selling includes moisture sensing and yield monitoring on their John Deere Choppers. This not only allows the producer to quickly and easily measure moisture content but saves the time of having to run loads to a scale.

I asked him how this will return the investment and he says it could mean the difference between having spoilage and turning cows off feed and that’s a cost no producer wants to deal with.

Listen to my interview with Chuck here: Listen To MP3 Interview with Chuck Endres (MP3)

Audio, Dealers, Events

Reaching for the Stars in Georgia

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereThe ASA/John Deere “Reach for the Stars” winner from southwest Georgia had to contend with some seriously unfavorable weather conditions this year, but Roger Godwin of Pelham says at least AutoTrac made his life easier when it came to harvesting his peanut crop.

“Lot of people don’t know how peanuts are grown,” Roger said. “We have a plow that we go in and plow those peanuts up and invert them and you really have to stay within about a 2-3 inch tolerance of where you planted to plow those peanuts up correctly and invert them. And this AutoTrac has really made a difference in that. It has been the easiest to plow this crop up that I’ve ever had. I’m really impressed with that part of it.”

Listen to my interview with Roger here.
Listen to MP3 Roger Godwin (5:00 min mp3)

Audio, Equipment, General, Reach for the Stars, Satellite

Precision Agriculture in the News

Melissa Sandfort

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, recently published an Op-Ed in the IndyStar online. Below are some excerpts from his article:

According to the Indiana Department of Agriculture, farming is a $25 billion industry, the fourth largest industry in our state’s economy. Agriculture employs nearly 600,000 people. That’s 15 percent of Indiana’s work force. However, the number of farm-related jobs in Indiana is expected to drop by 11 percent over the next 10 years. That’s not because people will eat less, but because of efficiencies created by technology…

For the next generation, the premium is on proper preparation for a career in agriculture. Whether the future job is in business or manufacturing, in life sciences or farming, there is significant value in earning a college education.

In preparation for college, some Indiana high schools offer Core 40 curriculum on agricultural subjects. The course lists include Fundamentals of Agriculture, Plant and Soil Science, Farm Management, and Agricultural Mechanization, which covers everything from traditional mechanical skills like fixing a diesel engine to cutting-edge “precision farming” that uses GPS technology.

Consider the career Web site of FFA. According to FFA, the following jobs require at least a two-year associate’s degree: farmer; grain farmer; vegetable farmer; cattle rancher; and chemical applicator. This is not your grandfather’s farm.

Stanczykiewicz can be reached at

We encourage you to share your thoughts about the future of agriculture in your state. Post a comment for Bill here.

Education, Precision Ag in the News in Forage Harvesting

Cindy Zimmerman

Jim BuchsJohn Deere is exhibiting some new technology at World Dairy Expo this week that can help dairy producers by getting added value for forage at harvest.

John Deere Hay and Forage Product Specialist Jim Buchs told us about Harvest Lab. “We put a unit on our forage harvester that can measure the moisture as its going through the machine,” Buchs said. “With that information, we can calculate the true tonnage that we are harvesting.”

John Deere Harvest MonitorThat information can be used to adjust the harvesting rate to the receiving rate at the bunker silo so you can adjust packing tractors or other required applications. “Also, how much inoculant or some other kind of crop treatment that you want to apply can be more accurately applied,” said Buchs.

Traceability may be the most important way this information could be used, especially in light of the recent pet food scare in China. “I think the requirements of all livestock segments in the world will have to have more traceability,” he said. “We’re going to be able to document where this feed came from originally in the field and what kind of history it has in terms of insecticide and herbicide usage.”

Listen to Jim’s explanation of the Harvest Lab here:
Listen to MP3 Jim Buchs (6:00 min mp3)

Audio, Displays, Equipment, Events

Precision Agriculture in the Dairy Industry

Chuck Zimmerman

Bright Lights, Big ShowThis week a couple of your editors will be attending the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. We’re hoping to learn a little bit about the application of precision agriculture in the dairy industry.

In preparation I did a little looking around on Google and found out about a just-concluded (I assume) USDA Ag Research Service project titled, “Quantifying Environmental Benefits from Precision Agriculture.” This project has as its objectives:

(1) Develop new and innovative methodologies to quantify the environmental benefit derived from implementing existing best management practices or new precision agriculture best management practices for minimizing offsite impacts, such as trace gas production from crop and grazinglands, wind and water erosion, and water quality impacts. (2) Quantitatively evaluate the “greenness index” developed by DigitalGlobe as a rapid and accurate method to evaluate the forage productivity and crop yield, quality of the forage, and the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide.

I’m not sure where that’s all going but they are studying precision agriculture specifically in forage production. It doesn’t look as if the final report is out since the project just ended but they do have annual reports available online.


Precision Agriculture in the News

Melissa Sandfort

We continue to see more about precision farming in the news. Michelle Koetters, Pantagraph, writes about a recent Japanese visit to the U.S. where they saw precision farming in action:

A group of Japanese agribusiness professionals took turns in the passenger seat of a tractor as the farm machinery virtually drove itself in a straight line. The miracle was the tractor’s high-tech global positioning system at work.

Todd Taylor, a representative of John Deere in Jacksonville, set the tractor’s GPS so the machine would drive along a line within an inch of perfection Monday, Oct. 1st, at the Illinois State University research farm in Lexington.

Visitor Kuniyoshi Takahashi was impressed with the accuracy.

“I think that’s great,” Takahashi, department manager of the fertilizer and inorganic chemicals department of Mitsubishi International Corp. in New York. “Sooner or later, even in Japan, it might be popular, especially on Hokkaido Island.”

The Japanese delegation arrived in Chicago on Saturday and will be in the United States for 10 days, Beatty said. ISU’s agriculture department hosted the group for a one-day tour in the Bloomington-Normal area, which included the lesson on precision agriculture at the ISU farm, as well as stops to see a farmer harvesting and a visit to a fertilizer plant.

Eight of the agribusiness professionals weree from Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. It also has the richest farmland and the largest farms, said Donald Beatty, a consultant for Mitsubishi International Corp. in Tennessee.

Visit the official John Deere site for more information about John Deere Ag Management Solutions.

Precision Ag in the News

Reach for the Stars Follow Up

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereWe are getting back in touch with all the ASA/John Deere “Reach for the Stars” winners this year to see how the system worked for them and just how their crop year has been.

Our first follow-up is with Colin Dutenhoffer who grew wheat, corn and beans this year in Aberdeen, SD. Despite a weird weather year that included flooding and replanting, he is harvesting a satisfactory crop. “Wheat wasn’t anything really spectacular, but it was okay. Beans are looking decent, again nothing spectacular. Corn – eagerly anticipating that, looks like it might be pretty good,” he says.

Colin says he used the GreenStar AutoTrac Assisted Steering System for planting corn this year. “I don’t think I even dropped a marker on my planter this year, just used the guidance system,” he said. “And then started planting beans with it, both with the planter and the drill, and used the guidance and the auto steer on both of those.” He also used it to cut some alfalfa.

His favorite thing about the precision package was the record-keeping. “The record keeping functions during planting were really tremendous,” he said.

Listen to my interview with Colin here.
Listen to MP3 Colin Dutenhoffer (4:00 min mp3)

Audio, General, Reach for the Stars

Mapping Prairie Grass

Cindy Zimmerman

Prairie GrassHere’s another use for aerial imagery – helping ranchers decide how many cows they can support per acre, as well as how much carbon rangeland plants store.

A study by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of North Dakota lays a foundation for eventually allowing ranchers to get Web-based information on the quality and quantity of forage plants in their fields. Ranchers could use this information to determine stocking rates, as well as how much carbon is stored in their forage plants.

Scientists Rebecca Phillips and Ofer Beeri have developed a way to measure rangeland forage plant yields in pounds per acre, and their quality in percent of protein content, over many acres. They’re using commercial HyMap hyperspectral imagery taken by airplane, which lets them capture images at more than 200 wavelengths—all of the light in the visible wavelength bands and invisible near-infrared and short-wave infrared wavelength bands.

Aerial Imagery, Research

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

Australian Centre for Precision AgricultureWe’re going to publish a regular post called, “Precision Agriculture in the News” to point you to stories we find. That’s part of what will make a good aggregator of information for you.

Since we took a look last week at some precision ag progress in Japan we’ll turn to another country this week, Australia. From a story on Science Daily we found out about the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture.

The Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture was founded in 1995 to introduce, develop and promote Precision Agriculture in Australia as a method of environmentally and economically sustainable management and thereby maintain Australia’s internationally competitive rural industries and sustain their resource base.

The story says that the Centre has developed some tools to make it easier for growers to apply yield and soil map data.

Education, International, Precision Ag in the News, University