John Deere Guides Tractors in Nebraska

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourJohn McDonald of Phillips, Nebraska says GPS guidance systems take the stress of planters, reducing planters fatigue while running the tractgor in 14 hour shifts. Agriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour stopped by John’s farm to get a look at how GPS technology is being used in Nebraska. John says there’s a generational learning curve with GPS guidance systems technology. His kids, he explains, pick up the new applications with the snap of a finger. He says for him, it’s not that easy. But, he says planters just “gotta think like a computer.”

You can watch the video of John here:

Equipment, GPS, Video

Growing Precision In Kansas

Laura McNamara

Crop Tech TourAgriculture Online’s Crop Tech Tour recently stopped in Beloit, Kansas and spoke with certified crop advisor Roger Barrett. The Farmway Cooperative representative says the use of precision ag tools is growing in his farming region. He says there are a lot of growers in his area that are delving into new precision applications and technologies, like the ones John Deere offers.

You can watch a video of Roger talking about precision farming in his area here:

Equipment, Software, Video

Guidance and RTK a Hit with Ohio Farmers

Laura McNamara

opf.pngMore than half of all commercial farmers in Ohio are using precision technology in their operations. A survey from Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics surveyed 2,500 farmers with sales of $50,000 or more last year. Agricultural economist Marv Batte says the survey shows that 55 percent of commercial farmers have adopted at lease one piece of precision agriculture equipment as of 2007.

Guidance systems, like real-time kinetic (RTK) auto steer, continue to be one of the top precision agriculture components of choice for Ohio farmers, and the most rapidly adopted precision equipment, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economics survey.

Precision guidance systems and yield monitors were the most frequently adopted precision farming equipment, with about 32 percent of all commercial farmers adopting them to date.

Precision guidance systems have been adopted by farmers most readily over the past eight years. Since 1999, adoption rates have jumped 27 percent. Adoption rates of yield monitors increased 15 percent since 1999.

“Precision guidance systems are popular because they are easy to use, are getting more inexpensive, improve efficiency, save time and labor, and can be used for a variety of field work,” said Batte, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. “With precision guidance equipment, the potential savings are numerous and immediate.”

Other precision agriculture components being rapidly adopted by Ohio farmers include georeferenced grid soil sampling; satellite GPS receiver; boundary mapping; variable rate application of lime, phosphorus and potassium; and aerial or satellite field photography.

Batte says the least adopted precision equipment is variable rate applicaiton of pesticides and micronutrients. He adds that the technology with the most potential is variable rate seeding, the adoption rate of which has increased nearly 5 percent since 1999.
According to the survey, the least adopted precision agriculture equipment is variable rate application of pesticides and micronutrients.

Click here to find more results from the survey.

Equipment, GPS, Software

StarFire 2 Sales Strong

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAg has released its GPS Receiver Technology update, offering insight to the success and strengths of various GPS equipment. John Deere’s StarFire 2 was highlighted as a receiver that’s maintaining strong sales:

John Deere Engineer Curtis Hay finds RTK growth — both in network expansion and individual use – is still quite strong, and “StarFire 2 sales are quite good. It points to a growing want and need for centimeter-level accuracy, which would make applications such as strip till or drip tape quite reasonable,” he says.

Click here to view the entire article at

Equipment, GPS

City Slickers Gape at Precision Technology

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAg Most city folk just don’t get it if you ask Paul Schrimpf. Paul is the author of the Clear Signals commentary on and he just recently wrote about explaining real-time kinematic GPS technology to a friend at dinner. Paul says his friend was floored to learn what it takes to invest in modern farming techniques, to learn that in reality the industry is usually a far cry from ‘consumers pay more while farmers get rich:’

I was over a friend’s house for dinner and laid out the the technology of real-time kinematic GPS systems — how they work and what they do — and he literally sat in stunned silence. I’m still not sure he believed me, but clearly he had no idea how far farming has come.

A part of our mission here at PrecisionAg is to tell that story, and other stories of technology use in ag, as much as possible. Not just because it’s cool, but because of the real benefits it brings to the farm, and to us as consumers of food. I’d encourage you all to share your success stories and let Americans know what’s really going on in rural America. Profits mean investment in new technology, which leads to efficiency and benefits for all, just like any industry.

Click here to read the entire commentary at


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