Closing in on the “Driverless Dream”

Laura McNamara

Design NewsJohn Deere is one step closer to providing what Design News calls “the driverless dream.” While the operatorless tractor doesn’t exist yet., Design News describes John Deere’s latest innovation in automated steering systems.

That killer app — an automated tractor — is already capable of turning, shifting gears and seeing through darkness and dust. It can follow a crop line with sub-inch precision in moonlight, can make decisions to raise and lower heavy farming implements on its own and can save thousands of hours and countless dollars for farmers.

And it may one day be capable of doing its job without need of an operator…

Deere, which will release its iTEC Pro automated guidance product this spring, has been a leader in development of autonomous technology. But it’s not alone. Case IH and New Holland have teamed with Trimble, an expert in GPS and optics, to develop automated tractor guidance systems, as well.

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Dealers, Equipment, Precision Ag in the News, Satellite

900 Million GPS Units By 2013

Chuck Zimmerman

ABI ResearchGPS, a key component of precision agricultural systems has grown to be a huge application for many sectors of our lives these days. Just think about all the ads you saw for portable gps devices before the holidays. According to a report from ABI Research the market for GPS in all its forms is expected to continue to grow significantly.

While in-car navigation will remain the most important application of GPS technology, the use of GPS in many other consumer, business, and industrial environments such as telematics and asset tracking will continue to grow. The GPS modernization project and the arrival of additional Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou/Compass will increase the availability, reliability, and precision of satellite positioning and stimulate the location ecosystem, expanding the market to more than 900 million units by 2013.

“Personal Navigation Devices for in-car use will be increasingly complemented by converged solutions based on GPS-enabled handsets for pedestrian navigation and Location Based Services,” says ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte. “However, GNSS technologies will have to be combined with other positioning solutions such as A-GPS, Wi-Fi, and dead reckoning to address the indoor coverage issue. Dedicated GPS devices will remain the preferred option for specific applications and environments such as outdoors, marine, recreational aviation, and tracking of people and animals.”

Industrial GPS applications include precision agriculture, machine control, construction, surveying, and timing. The use of GPS in military systems will also remain important.

Equipment, GPS

More Precision Agriculture in Cotton

Chuck Zimmerman

Pat SikoraAt last week’s Beltwide Cotton Conferences I got to interview Patrick Sikora, John Deere Ag Management Solutions Group, about the new technology available for cotton growers. He works in their new development area.

Patrick says that cotton growers have been some of the earliest adopters of precision farming technology but that there may be some not familiar with products like Harvest Doc Cotton.

With the Harvest Doc Cotton system, cotton producers will be able to document and map their cotton yields with the GreenStar™ system and their John Deere 9986 and 9996 cotton pickers. The Harvest Doc Cotton system enables producers to generate detailed cotton yield maps to help them make better and more informed management decisions.

Patrick suggests that growers make sure they visit StellarSupport.com for all the information they need.

You can listen to my interview with Patrick Sikora here: Listen to MP3 Patrick Sikora Interview (3 min mp3)

You can also watch the interview if you’d like as well:

Audio, Cotton, Video

Missouri Farmers are Techno-Savvy

Laura McNamara

Missouri farmers are embracing the new age of technology in agriculture. AP reports that precision farming was no sweat for the Show-Me State as farmers attended an ag conference hosted by the University of Missouri extension.

“Farmers are much more technologically savvy than people think,” said John Travlos, a University of Missouri extension agent. “They have to be. Agriculture is big business.”

From longtime computer users to novices looking for tips, farmers from across Missouri gathered Friday at a Lake of the Ozarks resort for the university’s annual farm computer users’ conference.

Topics ranged from basic spreadsheet use for managing finances to implementing “precision agriculture” techniques to maximize crop yields through computer-driven soil testing and fertilizer applications.


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Education, Events, Precision Ag in the News, Software

ASA and John Deere Offer Precision Ag Clinics

Laura McNamara

High Plains/Midwest Ag JournalThe American Soybean Association and John Deere have been touring the Midwest, offering seminars on precision farming. The first precision ag event was held on January 8th in Wahoo, Nebraska. The High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal reports that two more events are coming up later this month on January 28th in Jonesboro, Arkansas and January 29th in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“This is the winter education series of our ‘Reach for the Stars’ precision ag program,” said ASA President John Hoffman, a soybean producer from Waterloo, Iowa. “These meetings provide a great learning opportunity for anyone who has considered integrating precision ag into their operation or wants to learn about the latest in precision farming technology…”

“Anyone who sees benefit in improving farming efficiency, regardless of farm size or equipment type, will gain valuable information from these sessions. It will also be a great opportunity for growers to see first hand some of the new technology that John Deere has introduced, including iTEC Pro,” adds John Deere AMS Product Manager Kayla Reynolds.

The presidents of the Nebraska, Arkansas and Indiana Soybean Associations, John Deere SMS personnel, precision farm management experts and an ASA executive committee member will faciliate the events.

Participants will have the opportunity to “ride and drive” a John Deere GreenStar 2 System, which includes the AutoTrac Universal Steering kit.
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Education, Events, Precision Ag in the News, Satellite, Software

Precision Ag is Cost-Effective in Malaysia

Laura McNamara

The Star OnlineMalaysian ag company Boustead Holdings Bhd thinks precision agriculture is a big part of the puzzle when it comes to finding cost-effective solutions for increasing production of crude palm oil and palm kernel. The Star Online reports that Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the group managing director for Boustead, is placing his confidence in precision farming.

The group has implemented several plans of action to address the issue of cost control.

The implementation of the precision farming technique has enabled us to be more precise in the application of fertiliser and thus, more cost efficient.

Mechanisation of field operations, such as fertiliser application and in-field collection, has yielded positive results in improving land-labour ratio and workers’ productivity.

Our focus on using clonal oil palm material and future use of new compact hybrid palms should ensure a higher yield.

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Education, Precision Ag in the News

Cotton Picking Precision.AgWired.com For Producers

Chuck Zimmerman

John Deere is on display in Nashville, TN at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. We know that the company has a new 7760 Self Propelled Cotton Picker out which was announced at last fall’s product launch. So to learn more about it and how it fits into a precision management plan, I spoke with Jamie Flood, Product Marketing Manager, just as the trade show was kicking off.

He says that the equipment is meant to simplify a producer’s operation and that he’s heard very positive and good interest from growers who are looking at it. From a precision standpoint he says that the base unit comes Harvest Doc ready. Flood says that cotton producers have been some of the earliest adopters of precision technology.

You can listen to my interview with Jamie Flood here: Listen to MP3 Jamie Flood Interview (3 min mp3)

You can also watch the interview if you’d like as well:

Audio, Cotton, Video

Precision Tillage

Laura McNamara

Farm&Ranch GuideMinnesota isn’t going to be left behind in the dust when it comes to precision. The University of Minnesota Extension is hosting the fourth annual Conservation Tillage Conference Jan. 30-31 at the Jackpot Junction Conference Center, Morton, Minn. And sure enough, the Farm&Ranch Guide reports that the conference will most definitely tackle precision farming.

Sessions are also available on fine-tuning the agronomics of conservation tillage. These talks include a practical approach to precision agriculture; selecting hybrids and varieties for reduced tillage; twin row corn and residue management, and using spring or fall cover crops.

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Education, Events, Precision Ag in the News

Experts To Get Precise with Ag at Nebraska Trade Show

Laura McNamara

The Nebraska FarmerPrecision ag experts will be on hand for the 2008 Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association Conference and Trade Show being held Jan. 30-31 at the Midtown Holiday Inn in Grand Island. The Nebraska Farmer reports that precision technology will be a key topic at the event.

One of the featured speakers will be Terry Kastens, Kansas State University agricultural economist, who will revisit the past decade of precision ag successes and challenges and address the practicality and economics of precision agriculture from the perspective of an agricultural economist and producer.

Another speaker is Robert Blair, a farmer and precision agriculture entrepreneur from north central Idaho. He farms 1,500 acres of dryland grain and legumes and has a cowherd. Precision agriculture is an integral part of his farming practices. In 2007, his company, PineCreek Precision, began to bridge the gap between the military and civilian use of Unmanned Air Systems. This innovative technology will assist growers and consultants who require timely, inexpensive and high resolution field images. Blair will share his optimism for the future of precision agriculture.

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Education, Events, Precision Ag in the News

New Deere Equipment in UK Features Precision Packages

Laura McNamara

John Deere 6030 SeriesJohn Deere is launching its new 6030 Tractor Series in England next month. The line will debut during January’s New Horizon Tour. The Stackyard News reports the tour will make at stop at the LAMMA Show at Newark on January 16th and 17th, the Royal Welsh Showground on January 22 and 23, and The Dairy Show at the Bath & West Showground on January 30. But that’s not all. The green and yellow will also be featuring new intelligence packages and precision applications.

This special display will also feature the new 7750i self-propelled forager, 5430i self-propelled sprayer and T560 combine, which were launched in 2007, plus the latest John Deere balers and trailed sprayers. The company’s technical and sales staff and local dealer personnel will be on hand to explain the latest technology behind the new machines, which are spearheading John Deere’s equipment range for the 2008 season.

New levels of power, ‘intelligent’ technology and productivity are offered by John Deere’s 7050 Series self-propelled forage harvesters, which includes models from 380 to 690hp. Designed for high capacity harvesting in grass, maize and wholecrop, this latest range continues to use Deere’s unique infinitely variable length of cut (IVLOC) transmission to enable operators to change chop length on the move.

In addition to the basic models, six new i Series machines will be equipped as standard with an integrated ‘intelligent’ package of precision farming technology. This includes the HarvestLab dry matter sensor, GreenStar 2600 display, Harvest Monitor and Harvest Doc software and StarFire iTC receiver with SF2 signal (offering +/-10cm accuracy for yield mapping). The new AutoLOC feature also provides automatic adjustment of the length of cut depending on the dry matter content of the crop being harvested, based on settings programmed in by the operator on the in-cab GreenStar display.

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Dealers, Displays, Equipment, Events, International, Precision Ag in the News, Satellite, Software