Auto-Steer a Precision Favorite

Laura McNamara

inpf.pngFarmers are touting auto-steer technology among the best of precision farming applications. The Indiana Prairie Farmer reports that the farmers reporters spoke with during farm management tour stops stressed auto-steer capabilities as priceless.

In fact, statements like “I wouldn’t let you take it away from me” flowed freely during tour interviews. Besides the tangible benefits, including saving from overlap and spraying more precisely, the benefit that it’s not possible to put a dollar sign on came up quite often.

That’s how freeing yourself from doing the driving and concentrating on rows or markers leaves you much fresher late in the day. How you measure not being so tired in terms of dollars and cents is a factor even ag economists haven’t conquered yet, but farmers insist it’s real and that it’s important. And the older the farmer running it, like a parent or grandparent, the more important that factor becomes, they note…

It was auto-steering that kept coming back as the most favorite technology at the tour. Some folks still use the free WAAS signal, but those serious about using it for precise operations, like planting, are either using a satellite subscription signal or obtaining an RTK signal. Precision Partners, a technology firm located near Flat Rock, now ahs a series of stations mounted on various towers that broadcast RTK signals. For a fee they allow customers to pick up the signal and use it for guidance.

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Equipment, Precision Ag in the News

Purdue Prepares for Precision at Annual Workshop

Laura McNamara

41st Top Farmer Crop WorkshopPurdue is preparing for its 41st Top Farmer Crop Workshop this month. The workshop, which will be held July 20 – 23, is focusing on the future of farming and the ever-evolving ag industry. Speakers on a wide array of farming topics are sure to address precision technology as they delve into today’s modern farming techniques.

John Deere, specifically, will be addressing precision automation technology in the More Automation – More Work Accomplished breakout session Monday evening. Jamie Bultemeier and Andrea Grube will explain how farmers can “do more, and to do it faster and better!” A field demonstration will follow the informational session.

Wednesday will feature a look at robotic farming. Simon Blackmore, Project Manager of FutureFarm Europe and Director, UniBots Ltd Simon will present How Feasible is Robotic Agriculture?.

Simon has a worldwide reputation in developing intelligent machines and processes for crop production, and now he is running EU’s farm of tomorrow. With guidance, advanced monitoring and precision control systems becoming commonplace on farm equipment, what next steps will automation tackle in improving production or efficiency?

Click here to find out more about the event.


John Deere Precision Equipment Exemplary for TV

Laura McNamara

WHNT NewsChannel 19A local television station out of Huntsville, Alabama has highlighted the changing face of agriculture on its daily newscast. WHNT NewsChannel 19 has recently featured farmers who are learning more about precision technology. WHNT found that farmers are calling traditional farming “a thing of the past.” Plus, they’re calling John Deere equipment “the perfect example” of cutting-edge farming technology.

“When people think of farming, they think of sweating out there,” says Ben Smith.

Smith is an Agricultural Management Specialist for Trigreen Equipment and says the idea most people have of traditional farming is a thing of the past.

The newest model of the John Deere tractor is the perfect example. It’s equipped with RTK, real time kinematic, technology.

It works by GPS satellite, so farmers can plant, spray, and harvest their crops, and the whole time just sit back while it drives itself on routes specifically programmed for the field. The accuracy is less than an inch.

“This is the most accurate you can get,” says Smith.

The tractor can pinpoint locations close enough to hit a golf ball. Smith says technology like this is becoming almost necessary.

“With the rising chemical and fuel costs that we have now and seed costs, we want to get more accurate,” says Smith. “If we can plant in the same place year after year, using the same route systems, then it will make our yields a whole lot better.”

Click here to find out what more farmers think about precision agriculture.

Equipment, Precision Ag in the News

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.


Precision Mitigates High Input Costs

Laura McNamara

PrecisionAgCrop input costs are continually rising, but 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. 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