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.

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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.

Farm Industry News E-newsletter

History Channel Profiles High-Tech Farming

Melissa Sandfort

logo_HC.gifThe History Channel’s program, Modern Marvels, has featured several episodes on high technology farming practices.

Programs on precision farming are available on the History Channel’s Web site, and provide a good overview of practices such as automatic steering, on the go sensor technology, modern tractors, and global positioning systems. To access the videos, click here.

Content courtesy of Paul Schrimpf, PrecisionAg, a Meister publication.


Texas Precision Ag Event

Melissa Sandfort

The Precision Ag Expo will be held Sept. 6, at the Ollie Liner Center in Plainview, Texas. It is sponsored by the Texas Plant Protection Association (TPPA) and co-sponsored by USDA-ARS, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Cooperative Extension, New Mexico State University, Texas Tech University, West Texas A & M University, International Plant Nutrition Institute, National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants and the Texas Farm Bureau publication, Texas Agriculture.

TPPA.JPGThe Precision Ag Expo will be a day-long event that will begin at 8 a.m. The Expo agenda will include both classroom style presentations and “hands-on” demonstrations and discussions in the field. This will be great opportunity for all involved in farming to learn about the latest precision ag practices and products from those that are leaders in working with this new technology.

Todd Staples, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, has been invited to present the “Welcome” which will be followed by the presentations and field demonstrations. There will be an overview of precision ag and the benefits it may offer West Texas farmers. Other topics will include use of guidance systems, monitors and equipment to measure soil and crop variables. Information on data collection and use will be discussed. Another presentation will be on irrigation management. A group of farmers also will discuss their experiences with precision ag and the benefits it offers their farming operation.

Continuing Education Credits (CEU’s) will be offered during the Expo for Texas Department of Agriculture Commercial Pesticide Applicator License and for Certified Crop Advisers.

Click here for more information.

Education, Events

Precision Ag Education Meeting

Melissa Sandfort

The ASA-John Deere program represents an education-based partnership that encourages producers to both figuratively and literally “Reach For The Stars” with global positioning satellite technology and support systems that will save resources and advance farm management practices to new heights.

ASA LOGO ® 120ppi x 63ppi.jpgThe ASA, in partnership with John Deere Ag Management Solutions, invites all growers, regardless of the color of their equipment, to take advantage of a special opportunity to learn more about precision ag systems. Visit the ASA Web site for meeting times and dates.

The state soybean association president will welcome growers and provide opening comments at the meeting. An ASA Executive Committee member will then give a presentation on how precision ag is helping to meet global demand for U.S. soy, followed by a University Extension speaker who will provide an overview of precision ag systems, and a John Deere AMS consultant who will present information about precision ag equipment and farm management software. Panel discussion to follow.

On-site registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon. Equipment demonstrations will follow lunch until about 2:30 p.m. There is no charge to participate, but pre-registration is encouraged so we can more accurately estimate how much food to prepare.

Education, Events, Reach for the Stars

FIN TV Touts OptiGro

Melissa Sandfort

tv_landing_head.JPGJodie Wehrspan, Farm Industry News TV, spoke with Jeff Kaiser, manager for John Deere Agri Services about the OptiGro system. While more farmers are going to corn on corn acres, input costs are increasing and profit opportunities are being stretched, OptiGro, an aerial remote sensing program that shows crop stress, helps to manage input costs for this growing season.

The crop consultant gets the aerial image back in a couple of days so the data can be used this season to write a prescription that will drive variable rate controllers. Visit your value-added reseller for more information or visit John Deere Agri Services online. It’s not too late to get the most for your money.

Content courtesy of Farm Industry News. Click this link and scroll down to view the video.