Kansas Students Get Their Hands on Precision Ag Sprayers

Laura McNamara

Deere Trail Implement Inc. The ease of precision agriculture has given a couple agriculture instructors the opportunity to offer their students some hands-on education. Well, an article in the Emporia Gazette said both precision ag and access to the Deer Trail Implement complex located just west of Emporia made the hands-on lesson a reality.

Thirty-five K-State students trekked form Manhattan, KS to Emporia, KS to try out John Deere’s 4830 and 4930 self-propelled sprayers first-hand. Both sprayers are equipped with precision agriculture hardware and software. The 4830 Sprayer uses a GreenStar 2 monitor with precision guidance mapping and variable-rate software in it’s cab, while ag enthusiasts can find a SpreadStar Controller in the cab of the 4930 Sprayer. A SpreadStar™ Controller offers operators precision dual-product rate control from the cab. The technology can apply single or dual product or fertilizer at 20 mph with a spread pattern up to 105 feet. The Emporia Gazette article reports that the Deer Trail Implement complex was meant to foster a learning atmosphere:

When Deer Trail Implement was building its $2.3 million complex west of Emporia on U.S. Highway 50, one feature Deer Trail Manager Richard Garber was excited about was having a smart classroom.

Garber envisioned the room being used by the community and students as a place to learn about agriculture.

Last week, the classroom fulfilled that vision when 35 K-State students traveled from Manhattan to Emporia. The students were juniors and seniors enrolled in a chemical applications systems course taught by John Slocombe and precision ag technologies class taught by Dr. Randy Price.

The students spent more than an hour in the classroom learning about the latest in agriculture spray technology. They then spent time outside driving John Deere’s 4830 and 4930 agriculture sprayers.

Displays, Education, Equipment, Precision Ag in the News, Precision in Practice, Software

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

Precision farming equipment has changed the way that Mike and Annie Dee Rivers (brother and sister) farm in Aliceville, AL according to a story in the Opelika-Auburn News.

For example they can farm at night now.

The guidance technology “sees” for the farmer when they can’t see for themselves, like at night or when the wind creates a dust bowl. Annie’s still in control, but John Fulton, an assistant professor of biosystems engineering and precision agriculture at Auburn University, said she doesn’t have to concentrate as hard to operate the 375-horsepower machine anymore.

Instead, all she has to do is keep it on the straight line provided for her on the GPS monitor in the cab, turn when it says to and unload when it says to.

The equipment they’re using is showing significant gains in productivity already and in some ways you may not at first think.

The GPS system in Mike’s John Deere sprayer remembers where the center of the plant bed was from last season so the tires cause compaction only on the same spot year after year. The delicate root zone remains untouched so plants can develop season after season, he said.

“We are asked to do more with every acre, every year,” Mike said. “With precision agriculture, we are trying to get the most out of every acre.”

With a better market and the advancements at the Dee River Ranch, Mike said they are seeing more profit this year. Their production goals are higher than ever.

Precision Ag in the News

Precision for Specialty Crops

Cindy Zimmerman

Precision HorticultureUSDA’s Cooperative Extension Service has a good summary of a workshop held earlier this year on “Engineering Solutions for Specialty Crop Challenges.”

The workshop provided a forum for special crop industries to engage the science and technology community. Industry representatives voiced their concerns with regard to productivity, production efficiency, post-harvest processing, and environmental quality. In response, the research community offered some engineering science and technology capabilities that could form key components of eventual solutions.

The forum included representatives from citrus, horticulture, tree fruit, almonds and grape producers. There is some pretty interesting information here for specialty crop producers on how new technology might be able help them be more efficient.

The workshop noted that labor costs and availability, product quality, and environmental concerns are some of the primary issues facing these industries. The labor situation was a common issue expressed by nearly all attendees, primarily as it relates to the shortage of labor and the prospects for automation using robotics.

General, Research

Iowa Farmer Gets Precision Ag Experience

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereBefore becoming a Reach for the Stars winner this year, Curtis Claeys of Delmar, Iowa had pretty limited experience with precision farming.

“I’m not real technologically advanced,” Curtis says. “Thankfully, my son is in college so when I get stuck I can give him a call and he can walk me through it. Otherwise, our local tech guy was very supportive and very good as far as taking care of us and getting us set up.”

Curtis was very pleased with the way precision farming helped him save money with nitrogen and fertilizer application by avoiding overlap. “And I think as they get this advanced, it will really save us a lot of money.”

Listen to some of my interview with Curtis here.
Listen to MP3 Curtis Claeys (4:30 min mp3)

Audio, Reach for the Stars

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

We think of precision farming equipment as something to help with productivity but according to a recent story on California Farm Bureau’s Ag Alert publication it can mean a lot more. In fact, if it wasn’t for some GPS equipment on a John Deere tractor one farmer would be out his tractor.

On Sept. 17 the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department dispatch center sent Bray and his team of rural crime detectives to northwestern Fresno County near Firebaugh to a John Deere tractor that had been reported stolen from San Benito County.

“The owner of the tractor, which was equipped with a factory-installed GPS system, had tracked it to the location. When one of our patrol deputies and two of my detectives went out to investigate, they found a row of eight tractors lined up next to each other,” Bray said. “It was such an isolated area that if that farmer didn’t have the GPS system on this tractor, it would have been real hard for us to find.”

Now that is an interesting example of how precision ag can make a difference!

Precision Ag in the News

Tennessee RFS Winner Talks About His Experience

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereAlan Meadows is a corn and soybean producer from Halls, Tennessee – which is located in the western part of the state near the border with Missouri. As one of this year’s ASA/John Deere Reach for the Stars winners, Meadows was able to use the precision agriculture package in several different applications.

“First I had it on my sprayer and used the AutoTrac on it,” Alan said. “We also bought the Swath Pro and put that on there and that worked very well.” He also used it on the combine in harvesting beans.

Alan says he learned how precision farming helps in cutting down on overlaps and helped him save time and money. “Your efficiency is so much greater with no overlap or driver fatigue.”

Listen to some of my interview with Alan here.
Listen to MP3 Alan Meadows (3:00 min mp3)

Audio, General, Reach for the Stars

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

If you’d like to find out how precision farming is developing in other countries then take the UK as an example. A story on FarmingUK is titled “Cornwall “on brink of precision farming revolution.”

Advisors at the Objective One project, which has already stimulated UK-leading takeup of broadband on the county’s farms, are now reporting a surge of interest in “precision farming” technology, once the preserve of large-scale agribusinesses.

It looks like farmers are getting some help from the Objective One Project. The program has funded actnow Broadband Cornwall, which helps farmers obtain broadband internet access. I wonder if any of them have visited Precision.AgWired.com to learn more on the subject?

Precision Ag in the News

IL Reach for Stars Winner Wrapup

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereTed Vinson of Fithian, Illinois had very little experience with precision technology prior to winning the ASA/John Deere Reach for the Stars contest this season but now that he’s been able to use it he says, “It really is a tremendous technology and one you really can’t do without after you’ve had it.”

Vinson, who has a 1300 acre corn/soybean operation, used the precision farming package to map all of his fields at planting time, used the Green Star Auto-Trac assisted steering system to plant both corn and soybeans and to harvest soybeans, and used the yield monitor for both corn and soybeans.

Did it save him time or money? “Yes, definitely, it saved both time and money,” he said. “On the time side, when you plant with auto steer you get straighter rows and not having to use row markers to guide you on your next pass its faster to cross waterways. On the money side, less fuel was used when we combined the beans because you’re always taking a full header width cut.”

Listen to some of my interview with Ted here.
Listen to MP3 Ted Vinson (2:30 min mp3)

Audio, General, Reach for the Stars

Demonstrating The Value of Precision Farming

Chuck Zimmerman

To help demonstrate the value of precision farming equipment John Deere put together a short video clip that includes farmers describing what it has meant to them and their operations. GPS has been around for years and now it’s really popular in cars, mobile phones and PDA’s. But now GPS is literally steering tractors on farms all over America. Sonia Martin has the story on the newest generation of farm tools.

You can learn all about the latest products John Deere has to bring precision farming to your operations by visiting John Deere Ag Management Solutions.

Precision in Practice, Video

MN Reach for the Stars Winner Wraps Up Season

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereNot much rain in Gibbon, Minnesota this season either, according to ASA/John Deere Reach for the Stars winner Peter Kramer who farms about 1100 acres of mainly corn and soybeans.

Pete says he was able to use AutoTrac with planting and spraying this season. “This fall I plan on using that same tractor and the AutoTrac to pull my strip tiller and make my strips for banding fertilizer for next year,” he said.

According to Pete, the main benefit of the precision package for him has been allowing him to run longer hours with less fatigue. “It’s helped me, without a lot of labor, to farm a little more efficiently and in a shorter time.”

“The best thing I liked about the system was their tech support,” Pete added. “There’s a learning curve to get the thing up and running but the dealership helped me out quite a bit and the on-line tech support helps out a great deal.”

Listen to my interview with Pete here.
Listen to MP3 Pete Kramer (4:00 min mp3)

Audio, Reach for the Stars