Growers Set the Record Straight

Melissa Sandfort

Welcome back for more information from the American Soybean Association (ASA) and John Deere “Reach for the Stars” summer grower meeting in Bettendorf, Iowa, on July 20th at Scott Community College.

During the morning presentation, three of the Reach for the Stars winners offered experiences and observations they’ve had while using John Deere precision ag systems on their own farms. They were: David Oberbroeckling, Davenport, Iowa, Chris Von Holten, Walnut, Ill., and Curtis Claeys, Delmar, Iowa.

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“We jumped in with both feet. We put the system on our 7120 Magnum sprayer tractor, then over to our MX for anhydrous, then back to the sprayer tractor, then to the New Holland for planting. We then did some side dress nitrogen strip tests and put it back into the sprayer tractor. We were moving that steering wheel a lot and it works on any color,” said Oberbroeckling. “We had good luck with it, and our AMS consultant (Vern Beninga with Elder Equipment Company) was a big help. I called him a lot, but that’s what he was there for. I think the real value in the whole program is the mapping, documentation and information because if you need to go back to it, it’s all right there. With all the rules coming down, this is going to be important.”

“We put it into the 4230 sprayer tractor, in the New Holland for some custom seeding work on alfalfa ground, then into the combine for wheat,” said Von Holten. “It’s great to see the maps as you’re going through the field and the moisture reports are really accurate. We’ll use it this fall when we strip till for increased accuracy.”

dsc00334.JPG“We used the system for some primary tillage, spraying and fertilizing pastures and applying anhydrous. That is, in my mind, where you can make the most money with the system: anhydrous and spraying,” said Claeys. “We also used it for planting and mapping. We had it in three tractors, from a 4230 to an 8110. Moving the steering wheel is only about 20 minutes and we’re looking forward to using it in the combine this fall. We too had great support from our dealer. There are a lot of things that you just don’t realize the system can do.”

Visit the John Deere Web site for more information about the GreenStar™ 2 system.

Reach for the Stars

UK Shows New Way to Spray

Cindy Zimmerman

Precision agriculture was in the spotlight last week at a University of Kentucky College of Agriculture field day.

This article from the Louisville Courier-Journal goes into some detail about how precision technology is helping farmers to save money on herbicide applications. Here’s an excerpt:

The historically inexact science of applying herbicides to crop fields is getting more precise and less expensive as recent technology allows individual nozzles on sprayers to be activated and shut off by computer.

UK AgScott Shearer, a University of Kentucky biosystems and agricultural engineering professor, demonstrated nozzle controls last week that use global-positioning system information to eliminate overlaps as sprayers with 90-foot-wide booms pass through Kentucky’s often oddly shaped fields.

While most existing boom controls shut off sections of the sprayer, the technology being promoted by UK allows individual nozzles to be turned on and off.

“We don’t have the perfect rectangular-shaped fields like they have up in the Midwest,” said Bowling Green farmer Joe Duncan, who watched a demonstration during the College of Agriculture’s Field Day on Thursday. “We’ve got so many point rows, you know, odd-shaped fields, that a lot of times, especially these herbicides … can be damaging to crops at high levels.”

Read the rest of the story here
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In the photo, Joe Duncan watches a demonstration of individual sprayer controls during the field day. (Photo by Gregory A. Hall, The Courier-Journal)

Equipment, Events, General

Precision Ag Consulting

Cindy Zimmerman

BurgessPrecision ag management is a consulting specialty for some, like Nicky Burgess of Fullen Land and Management Partners in Ripley, Tennessee.

“My main job is data management and anything else that goes with precision ag,” says Burgess. “From hooking up a piece of equipment on a sprayer to analyzing yield data, all the way to managing the people and training them on how to run the equipment.”

Burgess says their operation includes about 8-9,000 acres of mostly cotton, but also corn, soybeans and wheat in rotation. “Precision agriculture as a whole allows us as a farm to manage that large a scale of acreage spread over 200 miles,” he says. “It allows us to act like a small farmer out there everyday, on the tractor, in the field.”

The main tools Burgess says they use are auto-steer, variable rate control on sprayers and other application equipment, and record-keeping software.

Chuck Zimmerman interviewed with Nicky at the recent InfoAg conference as he stopped by the John Deere booth: Listen to MP3 Burgess Interview (5:30 min mp3)

Audio, Displays, Education, General, Satellite

Precision Soil Sampling

Cindy Zimmerman

Tom McGrawPrecision soil sampling has come a long way, according to Tom McGraw of Midwest Independent Soil Samplers, pictured here at the recent InfoAg conference with John Deere’s Jeff Kaiser.

“Precision sampling isn’t all that new. 1929, Purdue University started grid sampling,” says McGraw. “We’ve done millions of acres of grid sampling by now.”

He says that using imagery to detect changes in nitrogen levels has improved over time. “I’ve leaned out the side of an airplane with a 35mm camera years ago,” he said. “There’s been a struggle for 20 years to find out how do we use imagery.”

McGraw is impressed with the John Deere Agri Service OptiGro product. “The stuff just popped my eyes, you can just see a ton of stuff out there,” he said. “From the nitrogen management standpoint, my hair is white because I have been trying to manage nitrogen my whole career! Now there’s a system with imagery that you can see where the crop is in terms of nitrogen needs. And with $4 corn you better be darn sure you got out there what that crop needs.”

Listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Tom here: Listen to MP3 McGraw (3:20 min mp3)

Audio, General, Satellite, Software

ZedX Offers Precision Ag Tools

Cindy Zimmerman

Zed XZedX Incorporated was on display at the recent InfoAg conference in Springfield, Il.

Marketing Director Mike Santostefano says ZedX is combination of precision agriculture tools and weather products. “In terms of agriculture, we have our AgFleet and HighQ programs,” he says. AgFleet is the in-season, in-field suite of tools, while HighQ is end of the season yield analysis tools.

ZedX tries to work with as many companies as possible. “We truly believe that one company is not able to provide all the tools necessary for the growers,” said Santostefano. “An example of this is John Deere. They came to us because they needed a platform to allow their clients to order aerial imagery and create application files, and also to create a nitrogen product for corn.”

Santostefano says this has been a great partnership to serve growers better.

Listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Mike here: Listen to MP3 Santostefano (7:30 min mp3)

From the ZedX website: “Zed,” once used by programmers as shorthand for computer, and “X” for communications or information transfer, represent the core of ZedX’s work: cutting edge software and information serving the needs of users worldwide.

Audio, Education, Events, General, Software

Benefits of Precision Ag

Melissa Sandfort

Welcome back for more information from the American Soybean Association (ASA) and John Deere “Reach for the Stars” summer grower meeting in Bettendorf, Iowa, on July 20th at Scott Community College.

DSC00276.JPGMark Hanna, Extension Agricultural Engineer with Iowa State University, continued the classroom learning with information about the benefits of precision agriculture. Hanna currently conducts adult education and applied research with agriculture field machinery in the areas of tillage, seeding, application harvest and safety classes. He has BS, MS and PhD degrees in agriculture engineering from ISU and was raised on crop and livestock farm in western Illinois. A precision nitrogen applicator designed and developed by a team led by Dr. Hanna was recently recognized as one of the top 10 design innovations in the last 20 years by the American Society of Ag and Biological Engineers.

“Potential benefits from precision farming include record-keeping/data collection/improved decision making, reduced operator fatigue, efficiency and variable-rate applications,” said Hanna. “Is it going to make you money? University research conducted a few years back showed a higher potential for payback with increased benefits to soil compaction, strip tillage and row crop cultivation. Precision farming is here, it’s no longer just coming. It’s not a replacement for good management, it’s just helping you be considerably better.“

There’s a lot of potential with precision agriculture, but growers need to decide what their yield-limiting factors are. Decide what level of accuracy is needed. Pass-to-pass (15 minutes) or long-term (next day, next week, next season). A lot depends on the conditions and how the system will be used.

Visit the John Deere Web site for more information about the GreenStar™ 2 system and watch for future reports on Precision.AgWired.com from the Reach for the Stars contest winners.

Education, Reach for the Stars

Still Reaching for the Stars

Melissa Sandfort

We’re happy to bring you more information from the American Soybean Association (ASA) and John Deere “Reach for the Stars” summer grower meeting in Bettendorf, Iowa, on July 20th at Scott Community College.

Hoffman.JPGThe morning classroom sessions continued with a presentation from John Hoffman, ASA President and 2,000-acre corn and soybean grower near Waterloo, Iowa. Hoffman spoke about how precision agriculture is helping to meet global demand for U.S. soy and outlined three key benefits to precision farming:
1. Improved Profitability
2. Increased Efficiency
3. Enhanced Sustainability

He began with a look at the global marketplace. “We have a global marketplace that has become very complex and competitive. As we look ahead, where are we going to find the acres? U.S. soybean production in 2006 was 3.2 billion bushels; soybean acres planted in 2006 was 76 million. In 2007, soybean acres planted was 64 million – down about 13 percent from a 5-year trend line. Exports are running at an all-time high, and the U.S. is the dominant supplier of soybeans.”

“The ASA endorses precision ag and we, along with John Deere, are excited about the potential that this new, innovative technology holds for U.S. farmers,” continued Hoffman. “I believe that precision ag will improve our profitability, enhance our sustainability and that precision farming is part of the solution for becoming a reliable supplier.”

Visit the John Deere Web site for more information about the GreenStar™ 2 system. Watch for future reports from Mark Hanna, Extension Agricultural Engineer with Iowa State University as well as feedback from three of the local Reach for the Stars contest winners.

Reach for the Stars

Growers were “Reaching for the Stars”

Melissa Sandfort

DSC00337 (Small).JPGThe American Soybean Association (ASA) and John Deere held one of three “Reach for the Stars” summer grower meetings in Bettendorf, Iowa, on July 20th at Scott Community College. At least 25 growers were in attendance despite heavy, damaging rains received in the state earlier that week.

To begin the classroom presentation, Ray Gaesser, Iowa Soybean Association President, gave a short welcome and spoke to growers about the benefits of precision farming. Ray farms 6,000 acres of corn and soybeans near Urbandale, Iowa, and has witnessed precision at work in his own operation.

“We bought our first yield monitor in 1996. Technology has come a long way in the last 10 years and it’s really benefited our farm. We plant and harvest with auto steer; we took on Swath Control Pro in our sprayer this year, we’ll have Swath Control on our planter next year, and it’s a big savings. It will easily save us 3 to 4 percent on chemical costs this year.”

The morning session was then followed by a panel discussion and a ride-and-drive where John Deere Ag Management Solutions (AMS) representatives were able to give growers a hands-on (or rather hands-off!) demonstration of the GreenStar 2 auto guidance system as well as the newly launched iTEC Pro system.

Education, Events, Reach for the Stars

1870 Air Hoe Drills introduced by John Deere

Melissa Sandfort

Adding to an already extensive line-up of air-seeding tools, John Deere now provides customers an efficient, environmentally-friendly seeding solution with hydraulic-tine technology on the new 1870 Air Hoe Drills.

“Growers told us they wanted an air-seeding tool with very accurate seed and fertilizer placement,” says Steve Detrick, project manager, John Deere Seeding Group. “We invested in new technology, the Conserva Pak hydraulic shank opener, which does an exceptional job in placing seed and fertilizer at a more accurate and consistent depth. The result is more accurate placement of fertilizer, reduced seed, fertilizer and input costs, and consistent, uniform emergence throughout the field for higher yields. This translates to a greater potential for improved income, while optimizing conditions for responsible stewardship of the soil.”

1870 Air Hoe Drill“The real story on the 1870 seeders is the independently controlled hydraulic shank opener, Conserva Pak, which enables the placement of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and sulfur-based fertilizers up to four inches away from the seed,” explains Detrick. “This positive vertical and horizontal separation of fertilizer and seed eliminates seeding damage caused by some fertilizer forms. This translates to more efficient placement of fertilizer, decreased seed damage, and optimized crop yields.”

Seed depth consistency is also improved on the 1870 Air Hoe Drills because the hydraulic accumulators permit separate control of down force of the fertilizer shank and the press wheel/seed opener. The Conserva Pak opener achieves consistent depth with an even amount of soil placed over the seed in a single or paired-row setting – even in variable seeding conditions.

“As another benefit to our customers, we’ve designed the air seeding packages to be fully compatible with all Green Star 2™ precision guidance and map-based prescription seeding, fertilizing, and field documentation systems,” concludes Detrick. “These systems, integrated with the Conserva Pak hydraulic shank openers, give us the most productive and environmentally-friendly air hoe drills we’ve ever designed and built.”

For more information, visit the John Deere Web site.

Equipment, General

See Crop Variability Clearly

Cindy Zimmerman

EPA SchollOne of the presentations at last week’s InfoAg 2007 was titled “See Crop Variability Clearly,” on how remote sensing technology delivers aerial images that provide a unique view of crop and field variability.

The presentation was given by Jeff Kaiser of John Deere Agri Services, who talked about the OptiGro™ system.

“OptiGro is an in-season imagery service that allows you to order an image when you want it and take a look at your crop from a bird’s eye view and see what might be done to make a management decision change this season,” said Kaiser.

Chuck Zimmerman interviewed Jeff about John Deere Agri Services, OptiGro and more. Listen to that interview here:
Listen to MP3 Jeff Kaiser (10:00 min mp3)

Audio, Education, General, Satellite