Crops Face N Deficiency Stress

Cindy Zimmerman

Successful Farming Radio With potential yield losses at stake, corn growers are being urged to check nitrogen levels in their fields this summer.

Darrell Anderson, Successful Farming Radio Magazine, discussed that issue with Tom McGraw, owner of Midwest Independent Soil Samplers in Buffalo Lake, MN.

“The decisions are more important than ever,” says McGraw. “We can’t just throw on lots of nitrogen for insurance purposes because of cost and environmental issues.”

McGraw suggests using satellite imaging or aerial photography to detect signs of crop stress, such as the John Deere Agri Services OptiGro system.

Listen here to Darrell’s report: Listen to MP3 Successful Farming Radio Report (1:30 min mp3)

Audio, Farm Broadcast Reports, General, Satellite

Attend a Reach For The Stars meeting today!

Melissa Sandfort

ASA logo A series of grower meetings will be held this summer as a continuation of the “Reach for the Stars” program between the American Soybean Association (ASA) and John Deere. Sessions will begin with a short welcome and introduction from John Deere and the ASA on the value of the “Reach for the Stars” program and its benefits to growers. Growers will then receive information on integration of guidance tools into their own operation (ease of installation, learning to use, troubleshooting problems, use, etc.,) from local “Reach for the Stars” program winners. Educational sessions will be followed by a field demonstration and guest speaker.

Plan to attend a meeting today!
CITY: Morton, Minnesota 56270
ADDRESS: Jackpot Junction, 39375 County Highway 2, 2nd Floor Convention Center
DATE: Tuesday, July 17, 2007
TIME: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

CITY: Plain City, Ohio 43064
ADDRESS: Der Dutchman, 445 S. Jefferson Ave., Banquet Rooms A&B
DATE: Wednesday, July 18, 2007
TIME:9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

CITY: Bettendorf, Iowa 52722
ADDRESS: Scott Community College, 500 Belmont Road, Belmont Campus, Student Life Center (Go in Doors 5 or 6)
DATE: Friday, July 20, 2007
TIME:9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Visit the ASA Web site for more information and to register today!


Sunbelt Ag Expo Preview Field Day

Melissa Sandfort


Research, innovation and education — you’ll hear these three words repeated time and again when describing what a visitor will find at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day.

Scheduled for Tuesday, July 10 at Spence Field in Moultrie, Ga., — site of the Sunbelt Expo — Field Day is an annual preview for the big show held in October and it’s an opportunity for farmers to see future trends in agriculture.

Field Day focuses on seed varieties, chemical applications, irrigation technology and precision ag technology.

This year 25 companies, as well as university researchers, will participate with 120 to 130 plots focusing on traditional row crop varieties. These will include 35 varieties each of corn and soybeans, 50 for cotton and 21 for peanuts and 1 plot highlighting Pearl Millet as an alternative crop.

Research is what the Sunbelt Ag Expo was built on and there is no shortage of it in the fields this year. logo.jpg

Trams depart starting at 8:30 and a complimentary lunch is served at 12:15.

Content courtesy of Farm Press.


Precision Citrus Counting

Cindy Zimmerman

Citrus IFAS Researchers at the University of Florida are developing an electronic system to “see” and count citrus fruit, a concept called machine vision. It could be commercially available by the end of the decade.

According to news from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the system includes a Global Positioning System receiver and notes the position of each tree with the goal of helping growers manage specific areas for better productivity.

Daniel Lee, an associate professor with IFAS who leads the project, presented two papers on the system at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ annual meeting. In one, the system was used to count green oranges in the field and had an 85 percent success rate.

The system includes a digital camera with special optical filters, a portable computer, GPS receiver and software designed by Lee and his graduate students. The camera and computer are mounted on a truck and driven through groves.

General, Research, Satellite, Software

UK Field Day Features Precision Ag

Cindy Zimmerman

UK AgPrecision agriculture will be in the spotlight this month in Kentucky.

Every two years, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture showcases the latest research and extension work conducted on its farm in western Kentucky as well as throughout the college. This year’s event is July 26 at the Research and Education Center in Princeton.

The field day will feature 11 production-related tours focusing on beef cattle, tobacco, forages, pest management in grain crops, corn and soybean production, fertility management in grain crops, weed management in forages and pastures, and a precision agriculture equipment demonstration.

“We are excited to showcase the agricultural research that is being conducted by the University of Kentucky,” said Don Hershman, UK plant pathologist and field day chairman. “Current trends in Kentucky agriculture will give producers added insight into new technology that is likely to go mainstream in the near future. This type of information will give those in attendance a competitive advantage.”

More information can be found here.

Education, Events, General

Getting to the Basics

Cindy Zimmerman

InfoAgA good website that really gets down to the basics of precision agriculture is Kind of like Precision Ag 101.

Starting with the very basic Introduction to the Concept of Precision Agriculture, the site features information on Geo-Positioning, Precision Guidance, Yield Monitoring, Plant Nutrients and Soil Sampling, etc. If it seems like a classroom course, that’s because it is. The website was designed for the study of Precision Agriculture at California Polytechnic State University, California State University in Fresno and the University of California-Davis, with grants from USDA and ARI.

Education, General

InfoAg Conference Filling Up

Cindy Zimmerman

InfoAgThere’s still time to register for the InfoAg 2007 conference July 10-12 at the Crowne Plaza Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois. Conference organizers report that over 450 people have registered so far and interest is very high. The conference hotel has sold out, but there are still plenty of rooms in hotels very close by for very reasonable rates.

Why should you go? Just to find out everything there is to know about precision agriculture. Concurrent sessions and over 60 speakers will address a wide variety of topics, like Callibrating Yield Monitors, Getting Practices Approved for NRCS Funding, Approaches to N Management, On-Farm Trial Tools, Resource Conservation and Precision Ag, Crop Variability, GPS in Agriculture, Precision Nutrient Management, and much, much more.

Check out the entire schedule at a glance here.

If you want to come early and/or stay late, there are more educational opportunities before and after the conference. The pre-conference tour on Monday, July 9, will include stops at Tim Seifert’s farm, Brandt Consolidated and TeeJet’s manufacturing plant.

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) invites all InfoAg attendees to participate in a workshop, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone: A Dialogue for Agriculture, which will be held immediately following InfoAg on July 12-13, 2007. You can learn more about the workshop at the CTIC web site.

Register on-line for the conference, or if you just can’t make it this year, be sure to check back here at as we will feature information from the event as it happens and over the next several weeks.

Education, Events, General

Precision Update: Midwest Adoption

Melissa Sandfort


This spring, CropLife® magazine and Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business conducted a survey of crop input dealers for the 12th consecutive year to see which precision technologies were being used by dealers, what type of precision services they were expecting to offer in the future, and how precision farming customers were impacting their businesses. As in previous years, a survey was sent to 2,500 CropLife dealership readers to “take the pulse of the industry” with respect to precision farming.

This year, results are focusing on the Midwest dealerships who responded.

How Midwest Dealers Are Using Precision
The most common precision technology this year was GPS guidance systems with manual control/lightbar, by 75% of respondents, followed by precision technologies being used to provide services to growers. Rising to third place this year were GPS guidance systems with auto control/auto steer for fertilizer/chemical applications (used by 30% of the responding dealerships). Over one-quarter of the respondents (27%) used both types of GPS guidance systems, while 22% of the dealerships didn’t use either type of guidance system.

The biggest growth in technology in the last three years has been in GPS guidance systems with auto control/autosteer. In 2004, only 4% of the dealerships in the Midwest were using autocontrol/autosteer technology. Last year, 22% were using the technology and by this year 30% of the Midwestern dealerships were using it. The use of other precision technologies has more or less leveled off from 2005 to 2007.

e9d6.jpgDealers are still expecting to add precision services in the next two years, with continued growth expected through 2009. The biggest growth expected is in fieldmapping with GIS, with 56% of the Midwestern dealerships expecting to be offering the service by 2009, up from 45% in 2007. Satellite imagery is also expected to grow substantially in the next two years, from 18% of the dealerships offering the service by fall of 2007 to 27% by 2009.

Precision technology appears to be here to stay in over three-quarters of the retail dealerships in the Midwest. The biggest growth currently is in use of the technology within the dealership instead of in services offered to customers. GPS guidance systems with autocontrol/autosteer continue to show the most rapid growth, though sensors (both on-the-go and mounted sensors) may be starting their growth in adoption as well. With the boom in ethanol production, a key strategic question is the impact of more corn acres on precision agricultural services (and vice versa).

Where are the opportunities? Where are the challenges? This story is one to follow in the 2008 CropLife/Purdue precision agriculture survey. Content courtesy of PrecisionAg, a Meister publication.

Dealers, Research

Information is key

Melissa Sandfort

While new precision farming tools such as global positioning system (GPS) and guidance technology have recently gained much attention from growers, it’s the collection, storage and analysis of field data that may have the greatest impact on farming operations. That’s because the availability of accurate information for most businesses, including farming, can lead to better management and input decisions over the long term.

“The accurate collection and analysis of the data generated from precision farming technologies can be the most important part of the entire package,” says Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “While guidance, GPS, variable rate application and other precision tools are important in the physical production of each year’s crop, it’s the use of field data over time that can really drive farm productivity and profitability into the future,” Reynolds adds.

Field, yield and soil maps, along with crop and input information and other data, can be collected easily and accurately with many of today’s precision farming systems. In many cases, much of this data can be aggregated and overlaid to help producers understand the dynamics of their fields and farming operations.

8fe8.jpgThe documentation features of these systems make it convenient to tie in accurate data with guidance and other precision tools when conducting normal field operations from planting through harvest. It also allows the collection of information on weather and field conditions, hybrid/variety data, seeding rates, product and operator information and much more. For some producers this information-intensive management provides the missing link in what technology offers in precision farming.

The GreenStar™ system from John Deere with its Apex desktop software, for example, is a popular precision farming program. This system allows producers to collect, store and retrieve a wide variety of farm data from numerous operations into one easy-to-use program.

Some of the most common documentation features include:
• Yield mapping
• Field boundaries
• Planting information
• Field application and operational documentation
• Harvest documentation

For producers involved in growing identity-preserved crops or crops that need detailed documentation of inputs, or who are looking for that competitive edge, these precision farming technologies can be very useful tools.

“Access to highly detailed agronomic and production information for each individual field can help growers more fully utilize the capabilities of this technology,” adds Reynolds from John Deere. “It provides the intelligence behind the technology that helps growers further optimize the productivity and profitability of each field.”

Education, General, Software

Find value in variable-rate precision fertility

Melissa Sandfort

GPS-based variable-rate fertilizer application has become more mainstream in the past decade, thanks to research, technology, retailers’ promotion of the practice and growers’ success with it.

But according to site-specific leader Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer, the economic return has been modest at best due to added labor, test and equipment costs. Higher energy and fertilizer prices make variable rate more attractive, says the Purdue ag economist, but he’s unsure whether it will dramatically change the profit picture.

His best advice:

– Variable-rate lime applications are good value.

– If you have fields with geo-referenced data points of yield along with soil sample data points by management zone (random samples by soil type, not grid), then you’re better able to gain value from variable-rate N, P and K.

– Realize that cost savings and yield increases won’t always accompany site-specific fertilizer management.

– On fields you own or fields where you have longer-term lease agreements, build geo-referenced maps of yield, fertility and in-season attributes (drainage problems, weeds, insects, hybrids/varieties, etc.) and learn how to use history to make smart management decisions.

– Experiment with aerial crop sensing and other in-season research projects that could boost your bottom line.

FIN logo.gif
Most experts agree that the next wave of on-the-go sensor technology — which will detect various nutrient levels, organic matter, soil texture and more — will truly help improve the value of variable-rate farming, especially when combined with RTK auto-guidance.

Content courtesy of Kurt Lawton, Farm Industry News.

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