Swath Control Pro for Planters

Laura McNamara

Kirk SwihartFarmers are always looking for new ways to increase yield gains. John Deere’s Swath Control Pro for planters is a tool farmers looking for those extra gains might want to consider.

Chuck interviewed Kirk Swihart, John Deere’s Dealer Technical Assistant Supervisor, to see just what this ag toy can do. He also dug up info on what is and what isn’t compatible with the planter aid.

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Kirk here: Listen to MP3 Kirk Swihart Interview (4 min. MP3)

Dealers, Equipment

Getting a John Deere RTK Update

Chuck Zimmerman

John Deere AMS OfficesToday I had the opportunity and pleasure to visit the John Deere Ag Management Solutions offices in Urbandale, IA. This is the first post in a series that I’ll be doing over the next couple weeks about what’s going on in John Deere precision ag products.

I hope you’ll find that these interviews will provide a current inside look at some of the new products, some of which are just now hitting the market, and help you understand them, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to incorporate them into your farming operation.

Marketing ManagerTo get things started I’ve got an interview today with Mark Theuerkauf, Marketing Manager. Mark and I talked about RTK. Our conversation helped me better understand how the tower or base station network functions to provide a growing coverage area where you can take advantage of the extreme accuracy that RTK offers. As Mark says, John Deere offers three levels of accuracy with RTK being at the top of the list.

You can learn more about RTK on the John Deere StellarSupport website. Mark says that there are considerations when using the network since it is contingent on line of sight with the local towers. He suggests working with your local dealer to find out how you can incorporate RTK in your system.

You can listen to my interview with Mark here: Listen to MP3 Mark Theuerkauf Interview (4 min. MP3)

Audio, Equipment

Iowa Soybean On-Farm Network Info

Cindy Zimmerman

On Farm Network The Iowa Soybean Association’s On-Farm Network now counts more than 300 Iowa farmers who conduct on-farm studies to evaluate nitrogen management and other corn and soybean production practices and inputs on their own farms.

One of the things they do is a monthly On-Farm Update, which is being inserted in issues of Wallaces Farmer. Here’s a link to a pdf of the April issue.

On-Farm Network held its annual meeting at the end of February. Some audio interviews done by WHO at the conference are posted there for your listening pleasure.


Working on Precision Ag Standards

Chuck Zimmerman

ASABESetting standards for precision ag equipment and software seems to be getting some momentum from the ASABE according to Paul Schrimpf, PrecisionAg Institute in his latest post.

Well, a release just came across my inbox from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, a standards developing organization for food, agricultural, and biological systems. One of the many new standardization projects now in play, according to the release, is the development of “a standard for geospatial mapping of crop yield, moisture content, and quality data, including defined data formats and uniform map presentation methods.”

Here’s an excerpt from that release:

The purpose of this standard is to improve the processing and utilization of data files containing geospatial yield, moisture content (MC), and quality data with respect to information content, units, and interoperability between different software products and measurement systems. The standard will cover data acquisition, data processing, and data representation in map form and will provide a defined format for data collected with sensors that measure yield, MC, quality, and geographic position on various crop harvesting machines.

The ASABE Annual International Meeting will take place in late June.


Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

With the recent upturn in commodity prices, now sure seems to be a good time to look at equipment upgrading. That’s evidenced by the kind of story recently published in the Bismarck Tribune. In it one John Deere dealer is quoted.

In Elgin – the other edge of western wheat country – Dakota Farm Equipment manager Russ Rebel said sales are “really good” after several tough years.

He leafs through the neatly stacked paperwork on his desk and figures he’s got more than two dozen tractors on order for delivery from now through July. The phone rings and rings.

“In 30 years with John Deere, I’ve never seen this pace of sales,” he said, using that finger-up gesture to indicate “wait a sec while I take this call.”

He said he’s had situations where he’s selling the fourth trade-in generated from the first sale.

With many new tractors and combines coming with precision equipment standard it looks like we’ll see a real growth in the number of farmers using it and in the amount of precision applications being used.

Precision Ag in the News

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

India’s national newspaper, The Hindu, has a front page article in their online edition titled “What precision farming is and is not.” It shows how other countries are working to develop the technologies we have here in the United States.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

One other great advantage of the GPS system of farming involves the ability of the farmer to achieve greater efficiency in time control of his farm operations. This is because the GPS system enables him to operate his equipment round the clock irrespective of factors restricting visibility such as fog, darkness, or even showers. The sub-inch accuracy of GPS-based operations provides the farmer maximum efficiency with equipment operations.

Precision Ag in the News

John Deere Sponsors National Ag Day

Chuck Zimmerman

National Agriculture DayIt’s National Ag Day and John Deere is a major partner of the event via the Agriculture Council of America. You’ll find a lot of good information on their website.

Today’s farmers work nearly 3 1/2 times as much land compared to their predecessors back in 1900 and consolidation is continuing to change farmer’s equipment needs. “There is an on-going consolidation in agriculture that results in fewer farmers farming more acres,” says Doug DeVries, Sr. Vice President Agricultural Marketing for North America, Australia and Asia at John Deere in Moline, Ill. “Their needs for equipment are changing. Their expectations for what the equipment will do for their farming operation are also changing.”

Besides all the major equipment launches of the past several years by John Deere, it’s in the area of precision technology that some of the most beneficial innovations are taking place to help farmers remain profitable.

John Deere also provides technology services to farmers that include wireless information transfer and satellite guidance systems for driving equipment. With JD Link™ farmers can have information about their equipment and production operations transferred directly from the equipment in the field to a Web site for easy access later. This can greatly improve their efficiency and increase the life of their equipment by ensuring more timely maintenance. Read More


Precision Agriculture Academy

Chuck Zimmerman

Oklahoma Precision AgStudents have an opportunity to learn about precision agriculture this summer.

Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee is hosting the “Summer Academy for Advanced Technologies: Precision Agriculture” from June 8 – 13 for Oklahoma students in eighth, ninth and tenth grades. Academy students will explore precision agriculture technologies including the use of GIS (Geographic Information systems), GPS (Global Positioning systems) and their applications in precision agriculture. Students will gain insight to precision agriculture technologies through hands-on exercises using state-of-the-art equipment while experiencing college life on campus and in the classroom. They will also visit graduates on the job and learn first-hand how a college degree can help them realize their career goals. Students will reside in the college dormitories and enjoy entertainment activities during the evenings.

Chad Spurlock, Director of OSU-Okmulgee’s College Readiness Center, says, “Students at the Academy will be able to simulate an agricultural business enterprise. The academy will integrate and connect the learning from multiple jobs found in agricultural career clusters.”

Some of the subject areas are crop, range and soil science; agriculture business and economics; GPS/GIS/remote sensing installation; maintenance and applications; agriculture electronics; and data processing and image analysis.

Here’s where you can get the application form (pdf). Applications are accepted between March 15 and April 1.

Education, University

Precision in the UK

Cindy Zimmerman

Farmers GuardianFarmers Guardian of the UK has a series of articles about a Precision Farming Event held last week in England.

UK Precision EventAccording to the event website, they showcase “the best practical solutions available to implement precision farming. A full day technical trade exhibition with working demonstrations and a seminar programme packed with real-time examples of how to get the maximum benefits from precision farming. Its aim is to bring together farmers and the trade under one roof to discuss the best possible solutions for the farm business.”

Precision in the UKHere’s an excerpt from Farmers Guardian reporter Mervyn Bailey’s coverage of the show:

The merits of GPS auto-steering are now well known, allowing farmers and contractors to make the most of each pass, saving time and fuel. But it has also helped encourage them to go further down the precision farming line.

A number of manufacturers were saying that, while sales of steering aids remains steady, there is now more interest in variable rate application and automating sprayer boom control.

Manufacturers are also working closer together to record the work carried out in the field and help make use of it in the office.

Outside, tractor manufacturers were showing just how precise their automatic steering systems could be.

(Photo credit – Farmers Guardian)

GPS, Precision Ag in the News