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

Precision Planting

Cindy Zimmerman

With seed costs getting higher every year, it pays to be precise when planting to avoid wasting any of that precious potential profit.

Rob Rippchen, division marketing manager for John Deere’s seeding group, was the planter go-to guy at the 2008 Commodity Classic and he was so busy talking to interested growers that I had trouble getting him away for an interview. When I did, he told me what was new this year and the key word he used was “precisely.”

“What’s new this year is we have a central insecticide system for our Pro-Series row units that allows us to precisely place insecticide treatment for rootworm in corn,” Rob told me. “The other improvement that we made was to our vacuum meters to allow growers to more precisely place seed corn in the ground.”

He says growers are looking for even emergence and even spacing for corn. “It’s not only having the accurate spacing between the plants but having the proper depth control that’s done with the row unit,” he says.

Through John Deere Ag Management Services, they also can add the auto shut-off capabilities to the planter. “Another way to save some seed costs as well as eliminate the yield drag that happens when you double plant corn.”

Check out what’s new in seeding and planting equipment on-line here

You can listen to my interview with Rob from Commodity Classic here: Listen to MP3 file Rob Rippchen Interview (2:30 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Equipment

Classic Precision Demonstration

Cindy Zimmerman

John Deere PrecisionAt the 2008 Commodity Classic in Nashville, hundreds of farmers were interested in finding out more how precision technology can help them save time and money.

Laura Robson was the expert on hand, demonstrating the John Deere GS2 Display which provides excellent visibility of spraying functions while operating in the field. The GS2 Display is used for rate control, guidance, on-screen mapping, field documentation, map-based prescriptions, and Swath Control Pro.

Take a look at Laura in action:

Commodity Classic, Video

Precision Soil Sampling

Cindy Zimmerman

AgRoboticsOne of the Top 10 agricultural innovations showcased at the recent World Ag Expo’s New Product Center was the AutoProbe by AgRobotics.

AutoprobeAccording to World Ag Expo, the AutoProbe is “the first high speed, on-the-go soil sampler for precision soil sampling. Samples are collected at a precise depth and interval over a section of land. On a 2.5 acre grid, twenty cores are pulled to constitute a sample. This is done at a constant speed of 8mph. The machine is guided and steered with GPS.”

The AgRobotics site features a seven minute video of the AgRobotics AutoProbe™ in action.

AgRobotics is an Arkansas-based company that was founded in 2006 by a third generation farmer and agricultural entrepreneur. According to the website, company founder Jim Burton has over 35 years of day-to-day farming experience and an education in Agricultural Engineering, and has experienced first-hand the advancement of digital technology on an operating farm.

GPS, Precision Ag in the News

Precision is Standard on New Tractors

Cindy Zimmerman

Jerry GriffithIf you are in the market for a new tractor and are maybe still using an older model – be prepared to learn some new tricks with your new ride.

Jerry Griffith, marketing manager for the John Deere 9030 series ag tractors, was at the 2008 Commodity Classic last week in Nashville talking with growers from all over the country interested in purchasing new machinery this year or next. He says some precision features are now standard on new tractors.

“Couple of years ago we started offered all of our AutoTrac integrated components as a free promotion,” he says. “Beyond that, all you really need is the receiver, the display and the software to do the AutoTrac system.”

Griffith says their dealers provide excellent support for growers to meet their precision needs. “A lot of them anymore have specialists who work with our AMS components to provide the solutions that our customers need in the farming world in the precision ag applications,” Jerry said.

One of the benefits of guidance systems and other precision features is helping farmers work longer hours with less fatigue and Jerry says one of the features on the new 9030 series lets them do that more comfortably with an air cushion suspension system that provides “the best ride in the industry.”

You can listen to my interview with Jerry here: Listen to MP3 file Jerry Griffith Interview (3:40 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Displays, Equipment

Precision Ag Works

Cindy Zimmerman

One of the best places on the web to find good information about precision agriculture is, an on-line publication of Meister Media Worldwide.

At the 2008 Commodity Classic, I had the opportunity to visit with group publisher Al Strohmaier about Precision Ag – the website, as well as the PrecisionAg Buyer’s Guide, and PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Precision Ag Al StrohmaierAl told me how the PrecisionAg Institute was founded in 2006 as a way to foster technology transfer, wider adoption and increasingly effective use of precision agriculture technology worldwide. “The first year we had 13 what we call founding partners,” Al said. “We used that to fund grower research on wheat, corn, soybean and cotton on precision ag acceptance.”

They also did research on how precision ag benefits growers and now they have started a new initiative called “PrecisionAg Works,” which they were highlighting at the Classic.

“We’ve got quantitative information now about profitability, how much return per acre extra, and we’re taking this message to the streets,” Al told me. “Precision is going to pay off more and more and more and that’s what the institute is all about and that’s what PrecisionAg Works is all about.”

You can listen to my interview with Al from Commodity Classic here: Listen to MP3 file Al Strohmaier Interview (5:20 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic

Precision Sprays

Cindy Zimmerman

Lee MaddenLee Madden is product manager in the sprayer marketing group with John Deere and he was busy at the 2008 Commodity Classic trade show in Nashville this week telling growers about the new 30 series line up.

Among the changes in the new series is standard precision features, like the GS2 monitor. “That’s the color touch screen display for the GPS products that we have to offer from AMS John Deere,” Lee says. “That comes with new software for the sprayer side and also allows you to run the AMS components all at the same time.”

Lee says precision features on sprayers have really taken hold in recent years. “You have products like AutoTrac and Swath Control Pro that automatically turns the solution sections on and off for you using GPS. That really makes the operator comfortable and they see the payback really quick.”

You can listen to my interview with Lee here: Listen to MP3 file Lee Madden Interview (3:00 min. mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Equipment

One Year Anniversary

Cindy Zimmerman

RobsonIt’s the first anniversary for, which was launched last year at the Commodity Classic in Tampa.

One of the first interviews we had on the site was with Laura Robson, senior marketing rep for John Deere. We caught up with her again at this year’s Classic, being held this week in Nashville. I asked Laura about the state of precision technology and how farmers are adapting to precision becoming standard on new equipment. We also talked about how last year’s ASA/John Deere Reach for the Stars contest winners used their precision package in 2007, what they thought about it and how it is helping John Deere make precision pay even more!

You can listen to my interview with Laura at Commodity Classic here: Listen to MP3 file Laura Robson Interview (4:30 min. mp3)

Commodity Classic, Equipment, Reach for the Stars

Getting The AMS Overview

Chuck Zimmerman

National Farm Machinery ShowOne of the people I spoke with at the National Farm Machinery Show was Kayla Reynolds, John Deere AMS. I asked her to give us an overview of the Ag Management Solutions division at John Deere. It’s a bigger operation than I thought. For example she says they’ve got about 250 people working in AMS in Des Moines. That includes engineering, testing, supply management, marketing, customer support and accounting.

Kayla says that AMS is all about creating solutions that help farmers better manage their business. It’s all about efficiency in the field. She says that their main focus is on agriculture but that they’re looking at some new opportunity areas like construction, forestry and even lawn and garden. Mowing straight lines on a golf course would be one good example of a precision application. I think it’s interesting how often new technology is developed for an agricultural purpose but is then used in other industries and precision is no different.

One of the main new products that Kayla talked to growers about is the Intelligent Total Equipment Control (ITEC) system they have for 8030 wheeled tractors which takes auto guidance to the next level by adding functions like auto turning at the end of a pass.

You can listen to my interview with Kayla here: Listen to MP3 file Kayla Reynolds Interview (5 min. mp3)

Audio, National Farm Machinery Show

Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

In a story showing up on North Texas e-News, Randall Reeder, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer, offers some advice for ways that farmers can save money and that includes precision agriculture. Here’s a sample:

• Practice controlled traffic, especially if precision technology is already in place on the farm.

“As RTK (real-time kinetic) auto-steering becomes more affordable, it makes controlled traffic a much easier decision for farmers,” said Reeder. “The accuracy of auto-steering makes it easier for farmers to drive in the same path year after year.”

Controlled traffic saves money on fuel, labor, crop inputs and equipment costs. It can virtually eliminate yield loss from compaction, and makes continuous no-till more economical, said Reeder.

Precision Ag in the News