PrecisionAg Institute Findings

Melissa Sandfort

Precision Ag Institute announces preliminary results of technology

More than eight out of ten soybean, corn, wheat and cotton growers who use precision technology on their farming operations say this factor has increased their profitability, according to preliminary research findings from an effort conducted by dmrkynetec, formerly Doane Marketing Research, Inc., in partnership with the newly inaugurated PrecisionAg Institute.

PrecisionAg Institute

The research, compiled from hundreds of grower interviews during the past three months, is designed to create a comprehensive benchmark of precision technology adoption among row crop growers in the United States.

Additional preliminary findings also indicate the following:
— Of those surveyed who indicated enhanced profitability, the mean savings per acre across different cropping systems, including corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, ranged from $5.29 per acre to $9.44 per acre.
— Growers who use more precision agriculture technology, in particular, those using global positioning systems (GPS), electronic controller-driven application (ECD) and yield monitors, generally reported greater profitability.

In the first-known national survey of farmers who have not yet adopted precision agriculture technology, survey respondents overwhelmingly cited start-up costs as their principle barrier to using the technology. A distant second was that the technology was “too complex.”

“The research is providing insight into the real economic and technological opportunities and challenges related to precision technology products and methods,” said Paul Schrimpf, PrecisionAg Institute Manager and Group Editor of CropLife Media Group.

“Our hope was to test theories, challenge conventional thought, and get to the bottom of issues that have been puzzling the market for years,” he added. “We’re excited about the preliminary results and look forward to future discoveries we will uncover in the weeks ahead.”

The research is now entering its final phase, which will feature focus groups designed to ground-truth key findings, as well as unearth more of the psychological barriers to precision adoption. The final results of the research will be released at the InfoAg Conference, July 10-12, 2007, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Ill.

For more information on The PrecisionAg Institute, visit


Producer Profile: Kris Robinson

Melissa Sandfort

The Precision in Practice column brings you the latest reports from producers across North America who have put precision farming into practice in their own operations. Visit this column regularly to see what your neighbors are saying about precision farming and how they use it on their farms.

Short broadcast interviews with these and other producers can be found in the Precision Ag Minute archives.

Kris Robinson Cotton picker
Cotton farmer
John Deere components used: AutoTrac, Harvest Doc, 4720 Sprayer & GreenStar 2 System with Swath Control Pro

Q: Explain how you’ve saved on chemical and fertilizer costs.
A: We use 12-row equipment, 38-inch, and variable rate spraying with swath control. There’s going to be a lot of savings with swath control. In fields where we had a lot of overlap, we just don’t have that anymore. We never really knew how much money we were losing before.

We switched over to an RTK system on 1-inch variance. Next year, we’ll start banding our chemicals (not broadcast) save more money.

But it’s already paid for itself. Last year when we variable-rated our Pix applications, we saw that the farms were a lot more uniform. Adding variable rate fertilizer this year, it just made it that much better.

Q: Would you recommend guidance packages to your neighbors?
A: Of course! It’s a lot nicer not to have to fight it to keep it going straight. Now, you’re just along for the ride! You can’t afford not to use it. You pay up front and see the value at the end by what you’re saving.

I’ve got young kids and now I can go to their baseball and softball games. Without AutoTrac, I couldn’t do that – I would’ve still been on the tractor.


“Reach for the Stars” Grower Meetings Set!

Melissa Sandfort

ASA logoThe American Soybean Association and John Deere have set dates and locations for their “Reach for the Stars” summer grower meetings. Plan to stop by to hear the latest information on precision guidance systems from the experts and the winners of the Reach for the Stars program.

Meeting #1 — Tuesday, July 17th
Jackpot Junction
P.O. Box 420
Martin, MN

Meeting #2 — Wednesday, July 18th
The Ohio State University
Molly Caren Ag Center

Meeting #3—Wednesday, July 18th or Friday, July 20th – TBD, watch for more details
Scott Community College
Davenport, IA

Education, General, Reach for the Stars

GPS-Based Planter Controls

Melissa Sandfort

Farm Industry News gives a first look at GPS-based planter controls.

John Deere’s Swath Control Pro provides GPS-based boom section control for sprayers. Now John Deere is testing a Swath Control Pro system for planters to help farmers save seed costs. “Leveraging the technology from our GreenStar 2 [GS2] Rate Controller, we are currently developing a new system to turn planter sections on and off according to GPS coverage,” says Kayla Reynolds, manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “This system will work automatically to help growers minimize double planting in headland and other areas of odd-shaped fields.”

Deere has partnered with Tru Count Inc., which developed a system of row-unit air clutches that allow individual planter units to engage or disengage. With the GS2 Rate Controller, up to 16 sections of the planter can be controlled automatically.

The system will be available for purchase in time for the 2008 planting season.

Farm Industry News E-newsletter, General

Reach for the Stars Winner Update

Melissa Sandfort

AgWatch Radio NetworkRick Crawford, broadcaster with AgWatch Radio Network, recently caught up with one of the John Deere/American Soybean Association (ASA) Reach for the Stars contest winners. Nathan Wright, Harrisburg, Ark., who farms over 3,000 acres, recently started using his John Deere AutoTrac System.

Listen here to Rick’s interview with Nathan: Listen to MP3 Nathan Wright (1 min mp3)

Stay tuned to for more interviews throughout the 2007 growing season with the Reach for the Stars winners.

Farm Broadcast Reports, Media Room, Reach for the Stars

iTEC Pro Video

Cindy Zimmerman

John Deere’s iTEC Pro (intelligent Total Equipment Control) is a completely automated system that can be used on 8030 Series Wheel Tractors with integrated AutoTrac. The system not only guides the tractor precisely through the field, but also automates implement controls, ground speed, and end turns at headland and interior boundaries.

Check out the YouTube video to see and hear what one iTEC Pro user has to say about it. The video clip was sent in by Chris Horob, John Deere AMS Regional Specialist in Fargo, ND and created with the help of AMS consultant Brian Verkuehlen of RDO Equipment, who provides the commentary by voice mail. The video was shot in various locations around Minnesota with a digital camera and edited on a Mac.

Anybody else out there have some precision agriculture video they would like to share? Let us know – we’d love to use it here on PrecisionPays! Email your video to Melissa.

Equipment, General, Media Room, Precision in Practice, Video

Precision Links of the Week

Melissa Sandfort

In addition to the content and educational material brings to you, be sure to visit these valuable Web sites for more precision guidance information. Also, be sure to visit Farm Industry News for the latest newsletter from the FIN editorial team!

Precision Agriculture Website — Ohio State University

Site-Specific Management Center — Purdue University

Precision Agriculture Center — University of Minnesota

Education, General

GPS – the basics

Melissa Sandfort

The approximately 29 GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites each circle the globe twice a day — 11,000 miles overhead — to receive/send radio signals to GPS receivers. Six to eight of them are directly visible to a GPS antenna at any time.

Satellite To accurately track and steer your moving tractor/sprayer/combine, your GPS receiver needs five or more tracking channels (four are needed for good 3-D position estimates; the other channels scan for satellites just coming into view to replace those leaving radio range). It should have an update rate of 5 Hz to ensure enough data are being sent, and it must be compatible to receive your desired signal(s).

Because these satellite signals produce unavoidable errors — which is understandable when radio signals travel at the speed of light (186,000 mps) 11,000 miles one way — differential correction with a stationary receiver is necessary for repeatable tasks.

To understand your GPS signal choices and ground-based stations, check out the April issue of Farm Industry News and read the story “Automated Steering Basics.”

The real-time kinematic (RTK) signal offers the highest accuracy — within 1 in. — which is repeatable pass after pass and year after year. With this accuracy, growers can now strip-till and band fertilizer in the fall, then come back in the spring and plant (day or night) directly on top of the fertilizer in the middle of the strip — without steering.

When growers begin to till and fertilize in field strips instead of broadcasting—and achieve the same or higher yields—the savings quickly become obvious.

Other growers use RTK (Deere calls its network StarFire RTK, along with its industry-exclusive RTK Extend) to plant on top of buried drip irrigation tape or on beds, as well as plant varied seeding rates or apply varied nutrient rates based on field maps.

Content courtesy of Farm Industry News.

Education, General

Producer Profile: Paul Smith

Melissa Sandfort

The Precision in Practice column brings you the latest reports from producers across North America who have put precision farming into practice in their own operations. Visit this column regularly to see what your neighbors are saying about precision farming and how they use it on their farms.

Short broadcast interviews with these and other producers can be found in the Precision Ag Minute archives.

Paul Smith Mapping
Balcarres, Saskatchewan
7,000 acres
John Deere components used: AutoTrac

Q: How has precision agriculture helped your operation?
A: We were running on an 8770 4-wheel drive tractor last year but switched to a 9400 this year. We can take our AutoTrac off the planter and use it on the sprayer and on swath in the fall. We saved a lot of overlap, ran 24 hours a day when we were seeding and could see where things were done and where they weren’t. It just makes things easier to operate and helps with fatigue throughout the day.

It’s surprising – the lack of overlap by using the system – and you realize just how much you DID overlap at times with the equipment. Hybrid seeds and chemicals become costly. But the system does pay. You can take someone with a little less experience, show them how the equipment works and away they go. Labor is hard to come by, so anything you can do to simply things, helps.

Q: How do you use the mapping feature?
A: You can see the equipment on the screen (with no lightbar). You can see what’s been done, what hasn’t been done and acres inside your boundaries. At the end of the day or the season, you can download it on the computer for record keeping. We also use variable rate fertilizer applications, and with mapping, we know where things are lacking.

John Deere precision ag is easy to use their support/dealerships are really good – if you have any questions, they’re right there to help.

You can listen to the interview with Paul Smith here: Listen to MP3 Paul Smith (4 min mp3)

Audio, Precision in Practice

Successful Farming Radio Report

Melissa Sandfort

Successful Farming Radio Darrell Anderson, Successful Farming Radio Magazine, caught up with Kayla Reynolds, Product Manager, Equipment Management for John Deere Ag Management Solutions, at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk session in Kansas City in November. Kayla gives an overview of iTec Pro, which turns equipment automatically at the end of the row, making growers more efficient, allowing inputs to be put down exactly where you want it in the field, and come back in with future applications in the exact same spot.

Listen here to Kayla’s interview: Listen to MP3 Successful Farming Radio (1:30 min mp3)

Audio, Farm Broadcast Reports, General, Media Room