Precision Technology Promotes Sustainable Farming

Laura McNamara

HealthNewsDigestThe population of conscious eaters is growing and more people are seeking foods produced from sustainable means. The HealthNewsDigest reports that precision agriculture is one of those sought after means of sustainable production. And, perhaps, a key tool in combating world hunger.

Sustainable agriculture — a term equated with organic farming less than a decade ago, may be the answer to the world’s future food challenge. Sustainable agriculture is neither energy-intensive industrialized farming, nor organic farming, but more a hybrid of the two that is highly productive and does not damage the environment.

Drawing on both industrial and organic farming methods, sustainable agriculture incorporates precision farming methods – super-efficient energy usage, water conservation, biological pest control, genetic modifications for qualities that improve nutritional value and drought resistance, and cultured meat – steak in a Petri dish. In the future organic products will become a subset of sustainable agriculture…

Advanced sustainable agriculture uses many of the standard applications of organic farming such as crop rotation, cover crops to reduce the need for fertilizer, and biological-control techniques in place of pesticides. But it goes further, using new super-efficient, precision agricultural tools and cutting edge technology. For example, drip irrigation systems linked to soil sensors to irrigate only when and where needed; satellite information and computer programs designed to detect evidence of pest damage; and wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies.

Click here to read more.

Precision Ag in the News

Alabama Hosts Precision Ag Field Day

Laura McNamara

Southeast Farm ProgressThe tricks, technology, tools and trades of precision farming will be discussed and demonstrated in the field this week. Isbell Farms in northwest Alabama is hosting a precision agriculture field day for farmers and growers. Southeast Farm Progress reports that the field day will be held July 10th at the farm near Cherokee in Colbert County. Activities will begin at 8:30 a.m.

The field day will feature many of the cutting-edge approaches associated with precision agriculture, a GPS-based farming technology that enables farmers to plant, spray and harvest their crops with pinpoint accuracy — an approach that has led to substantial farm savings.

Concurrent tours running through the morning will highlight several precision agricultural research projects. These will include variable-rate irrigation and seeding demonstrations as well as research dealing with the spatial variability of nematodes in cropland.

But the field day will not be limited to precision farming techniques. In addition to providing a crop update, experts will discuss weed and nitrogen management with conservation-tillage and also will present several variety plots.

Vendors will be on hand to present and discuss some of the latest advances in precision farming equipment.

Certified crop adviser points also will be offered.

Click here to read more about the event.

Events, Precision Ag in the News

Sharper Satellite Technology Means More Smart Data For Farmers

Laura McNamara

sat.pngPictures and sensors from outer space are getting clearer and that means more finite and precise technology for farmers. The Satellite Imaging Corporation says satellite technology can be used to detect field fertility, measure water usage and more.

Satellite sensors acquiring high and medium resolution image data, combined with specialized software algorithms are used for various applications in agriculture to improve crop production. Scheduling and timing for the acquisition of satellite image data is very important for agriculture management to take important decisions supporting a successful crop season.

…With the availability of high resolution satellite sensors such as IKONOS, QuickBird and soon GeoEye-1, the current remote sensing NDVI algorithms utilized have become more accurate and reliable, providing detailed crop information for agriculture management to improve production and crop health.

…Agriculture resources are among the most important renewable, dynamic natural resources. Comprehensive, reliable and timely information on agricultural resources is very much necessary for countries whose main source of the economy is agriculture.

Satellite images can show variations in organic matter and drainage patterns. Soils higher in organic matter can be differentiated from lighter sandier soil that has a lower organic matter content. “Satellite image data have the potential to provide real-time analysis for large areas of attributes of a growing crop that can assist in making timely management decisions that affect the outcome of the current crop” said Leopold J. Romeijn, President of Satellite Imaging Corporation of Houston, Texas.

Click here to view the entire release.

Equipment, GPS, Satellite

MAGIE Brings Ag Expo to the Midwest

Laura McNamara

MAGIEFarmers in the Midwest will soon have the chance to scope out the latest in agriculture. The 2008 Midwest Ag Industries Exposition is coming to Bloomington, IL August 20th through 21st.

Join us at the 2008 MAGIE show, the only outdoor summer event designed exclusively to showcase the equipment, products and technology utilized in the commercial crop production supply and service industry. Test drive the newest application equipment and network with the best agricultural equipment and technology suppliers in the country.

Admission is $12 before August 4th and $15 after August 4th.

Online registration begins July 14, 2008.

Equipment, Events

Look for Precision at Iowa Progress Show

Laura McNamara

fp.pngMark your calendars for the nation’s largest outdoor farm show. The 2008 Farm Progress Show will be held at a new location in Boone, Iowa August 26 through 28. Show coordinators have announced that construction at the site will be completed in time for this year’s event. John Deere highlighted its latest innovations in precision technology at last year’s show. Look for new cutting edge software and machinery at this year’s event.

“Everything is on pace,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national shows manager, after his weekly meeting with the site developing engineers and construction managers Thursday afternoon. “All construction scheduled for this year will be completed in time for this year’s show.”

All the major earth-moving will be finished this week. Then it’s on to the final phase of the grass seeding and perimeter fence installation which starts next week. Some of the upgraded show features that are nearly finished include permanent restrooms and hard surfaced roads – two features that really enhance the comfort factors for show visitors. Field crops and plots are planted and growing, as well. Electricity and telephone systems are 60% completed.

Long-term facilities for the show known as the “Super Bowl of Agriculture” have been established to avoid weather-related interruptions and to provide visitors and exhibitors with even better show experiences. Visitors at the 2005 and 2007 shows held at its first permanent biennial location near Decatur, Ill., have been very impressed with the show’s upgraded facilities. The show now rotates between the Boone and Decatur sites. The Boone site is developed on nearly 600 acres at the intersection of U.S. Highway 30 and Iowa Highway 17.

General

Precision Mitigates High Input Costs

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgCrop input costs are continually rising, but PrecisionAg.com reports that precision farming technology is helping keep overall costs at bay. A recent article suggests farmers are receiving substantial paybacks for investing in precision agriculture technology.

“Research shows that growers are gaining back their investment in precision ag technology faster than we thought – often in just one to three years,” says K. Elliott Nowels, director of the PrecisionAg Institute. “And they are saving from $15 to $39 per acre by using inputs more efficiently with precision ag tools, depending on crop and region of the country.”

Add in the stewardship element of precision agriculture – using inputs when and where they are needed — and it’s a very compelling case for adoption. “There’s never been a better time to adopt this technology,” says Nowels.

Additional results indicate the following:

• Eighty-five percent (85%) of corn growers, 88 percent of cotton growers and 100 percent of soybean growers indicated their operation has been more profitable using precision ag technology.

• The average input savings per acre for these precision ag users (inputs including seed, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and time/labor) $19 per acre for corn, $18.50/A. for beans and up to $39/A. for cotton.

• Fertilizer cost-savings led the way, coming in at $4 to $13 per acre depending on crop.

• The top benefits growers listed from their use of precision ag technology were 1.) the ability to apply chemicals and fertilizer where needed, 2.) greater profitability due to lower input costs, and 3.) identification of poor producing areas of their fields.

PrecisionAg.com reports that the data from this research was gathered from in-depth written responses and telephone follow-up interviews with corn, soybean and cotton growers.

Click here to view the entire article.

Cotton, Precision Ag in the News

Precision Repair Shop Offers Sense of Community

Laura McNamara

taylor.pngA “bad cup of coffee and good conversation” are the two things a group of farmers look forward to nearly every morning in Granger, TX. Jason Schaefer’s article in the Taylor Daily Express reports that as technology continually changes and prices shoot up in a rapidly advancing ag industry, farmers find familiarity and advice through each other at the local Precision Ag Repair.

“You’ve got to have some fun sometime,” Mike Hajda, corn and milo farmer, said in the Precision Ag office Wednesday morning.

Expenses have skyrocketed, evident in the price per ton of fertilizer — up to as much as $460 this year from $150 two years ago, according to Melvin Marek, corn and cotton farmer….

The farmers agree the best prices, the most honest workers and the best repair advice come from Precision Ag, the only place Repa, along with the others, brings his equipment.

“The owners get a lot of business from all over the county,” he said. “They’re good and honest, and they always have decent prices.”

According to Repa, big-business farm equipment dealers charge more for equipment and repair due to increasing overhead costs.

Vrabel said he sees customers from not only all over the county, but also from over Central Texas.

“Word of mouth has been good to us,” said co-owner Tommy Filla…

The group began meeting in the Precision Ag office instead of at the Blackland Co-op Gin down the street about three years ago, Fill said.

“I don’t remember if the gin shut down for a year or something,” Filla said. “It’s still open to them, and a few guys still go over there, but for some reason, they just started coming here.”

A Precision Ag staff member opens the doors at 5:30 a.m. every morning to make the coffee that keeps the farmers going, and the owners give advice and answer repair questions as well as trade their own fair share of jokes and stories…

Click here to read the entire article.

General, Precision Ag in the News

10-Year Precision Veteran

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourAgriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour caught up with John Deere Ag Management Systems Consultant Todd Zimmerman in Auburn, Nebraska. Todd was visiting Arlin Aufenkamp, a farmer who has been using precision farming technology for 10 years. Todd says Arlin started off with mapping technology on his combine, moved to auto steer and has now added auto shut-offs on his sprayers and planters.

You can watch videos of Todd and Arlin explaining the benefits of using these technologies here:

Equipment, GPS, Resources, Video

Time for Precision

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgThe optimal time to invest in precision farming is now. PrecisionAg.com reports that the International Nutrition Plant Institute has come up with some reasons why farmers should embrace precision ag technology today.

  1. Precision agriculture technologies have not always been economical for small to medium-sized farming operations. However, as input costs rise, precision agriculture equipment is becoming less expensive and tools such as guidance systems, yield monitors, and variable-rate fertilizer applicators may now be profitable for nearly all growers.
  2. Some technologies, like RTK auto-steering, can improve efficiency without changing management practices. Using a GPS-guided steering system can eliminate sprayer overlaps and planter skips that can result in lower profits.
  3. Despite the fact that yield monitors have been around over a decade, many growers still don’t fully understand how to use them to improve farming efficiency. This lack of knowledge is being actively addressed in a series of extension programs and classroom courses developed North Carolina State University. This training involves on-farm demonstrations, hands-on classroom training using “Virtual Yield Monitor” custom software, and introduction to spreadsheet-based analysis of yield monitor data, yield-limiting factors, and potential changes in management that could increase yield.
  4. Variable-rate fertilizer applications have been shown to improve efficiency and increase profits in many grower fields. Several universities and USDA-ARS research units have developed strategies for using on-the-go sensor-based applicators to improve fertilizer use efficiency. Profits have come in the form of increased grain yields without increasing total nutrient inputs.
  5. Precision management pays now more than ever.

Click here to view the entire article.

Education, Equipment, Precision Ag in the News

Farmer Designs “Precision Track

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourFarmer inventor Ned Meyer is in his third year of applying “Precision Track” technology to his farm. Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour visited Ned Farmer to talk about his concept of the functions and potential uses for his “Precision Track” field system design. Ned says his farm uses the system for both planting and cultivating. The performance, he says, is impressive.

You can watch videos of Ned explaining his “Precision Track” field system here:

Equipment, GPS, Video