Precision Agriculture Being Developed in Japan

Chuck Zimmerman

Autonomous Rice PlanterThis past week I’ve been attending an International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress in Japan. On one of our stops we saw precision agriculture on display in a rice paddy! This is in development now at the Furukawa Agricultural Research Station.

I interviewed Yoshisada Nogasaka, Research Team for Farm Machinery and Systems for NARC, the National Agricultural Research Center. He’s the guy who’s developing the software to run the prototype Autonomous Rice Transplanter we saw on demonstration at the Furukawa Agricultural Research Center. This guy is enthusiastic to say the least. He says that when he demonstrates this thing on a farm the farmer asks, “Can you leave it here on my farm?” They’re really looking forward to it but they’ll have some waiting to do. He says it could be up to 10 years before commercial production.

You can listen to his remarks here: Listen to MP3 Yoshisada Nagasaka Interview (2:00 min mp3)

I also produced a short video clip of the unit in action.

Audio, Research, Video

Workshop slated for Oct. 18

Melissa Sandfort

A geographic information system workshop is set for Oct. 18 at the Texas A&M University System Research and Extension Center at San Angelo.

The workshop is being sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas A&M University System’s Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and will last from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

category.jpgDr. Dale Rollins, Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo, said most people, even those with a global positioning system in their car or pocket, don’t fully understand the technology.

“While an increasing number of landowners and recreationalists are aware of GPS, most don’t appreciate the power and utility of what they have,” Rollins said. “Whether you’re interest is in recreational mapping or precision agriculture, you’ll benefit from this training.”

Rollins said much of the workshop will be hands-on training outside with various equipment. Participants will then move indoors for classroom instruction on incorporating and using data from the various morning exercises.

Equipment used during the workshop will include: Precision Ag fast-update global positioning systems, Lightbar Guidance Systems, Envisio Guidance Systems, Tablet Personal Computer and heads-up navigation, and Landitude Heavy Equipment Software for tracking heavy equipment efficiency.

“The workshop should be helpful to landowners, hunters, brush control contractors or anyone else interested in global positioning system technology,” Rollins said.

The meeting is free and open to the public but limited to the first 30 participants.

For more information contact Rollins at 325-653-4576,

Education, Events

Increasing interest in ag careers?

Melissa Sandfort

Husker Harvest Days. And University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken showed up to highlight the school’s increasing presence there. Enrollment for ag programs at the university has grown tremendously in recent years and the school says this is their strongest and most diverse showing at Husker Harvest Days.

Walking past it, many at Husker Harvest Days may not have realized just how much is going on at the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Some of the technology being developed, some of the science being developed it is critically important that the university stay connected with people across Nebraska, and this is a great way to do that,” said Milliken.

8b37dfe2-8f03-5c0c.jpgAs they mention often, 1 in 3 jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture. It is a stat that catches the attention of incoming students and that is reflected in the school’s enrollment figures released this week.

“The largest growth of any college throughout the university is agricultural sciences and natural resources – 12 percent enrollment growth this year – that is just great. It is a great success story, and it demonstrates how important agriculture is to the future of this state and the people recognize that,” said Jill Brown, College of Agricultural Sciences.

One of the school’s newest exhibits at Husker Harvest Days has to do with precision agriculture, using GPS satellite technology to monitor crop yields.

In fact, President Milliken got a chance to test out this technology for himself, using the GPS to track down a specific booth on the grounds.

Excerpts from Robert Price, KHAS-TV in Grand Island


2008 Precision Ag Workshops

Melissa Sandfort

precisionaglogo1.gif2008 OSU Precision Agriculture Data Management, Analysis and Decision Making Workshop

This workshop is about making use of “Best Management Technologies” for use in Precision Agriculture. You will learn how to integrate tools such as GPS, GIS, sensor technologies and other geodata for use in making management decisions.

Several topics covered in the workshop include:
– Yield monitoring and mapping
– Soil mapping and sampling
– Soil fertility mapping
– Field Management Zones
– Variable Rate Applications and Mapping
– GPS and navigation system selection
– Environmental planning
– On-Farm Research

A workshop binder and CD will contain resources and software for attendees to take home. The class is taught one day a week for a 3-week period. When you register you are registering for 3 days of classes.

Class size is limited to 19 people at each location. Registration is on a first-come first-serve basis so register early!

Who Should Participate?
This workshop is designed for those who have no to limited experience using precision agriculture technologies. It is designed for agricultural producers, consultants, and cooperatives.

What You Will Take Home
– How to manage and use data for map creation for yields, soils, fertility, variable rate applications, and other data sources.
– Knowledge of what GPS equipment, GIS and mapping software and services are needed for specific applications
– Ability to sort out field spatial variability
– Develop field management zones and working with multiple years of data
– Create profit maps to assess field productivity levels
– Field record keeping techniques for effective data collection
– Ability to create maps for reports and planning
– Strategies for on-farm research techniques to see cause and effect relationship between farm practices and precision agriculture technologies.
– Strategies for environmental stewardship and techniques for effective conservation program implementation.

Sponsored By
This program has been made possible by collaborative efforts involving the Ohio Geospatial Extension Program, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources, and The Ohio State University Precision Agriculture Team.

CCA CEU credits applied for. Workshop includes resource materials, lunch, and breaks. If you have special needs that need accommodation, please contact us 1 week prior to workshop. Cancellation and substitution conditions apply. You may receive a refund only if we receive notice within 1 week in advance of workshop start date.

For more information contact:
Nathan Watermeier
OSU Extension
(614) 688-3442


Precision Agriculture in the News

Chuck Zimmerman

We’re seeing precision agriculture showing up in more than just farm publications these days. For example, the Montgomery has a story posted from the (Florence) Daily Times which gives a pretty good overview of how some Alabama farmers are using precision agriculture on their farms.

In the story two of the farmers quoted are Shane Isbell and his Dad, Neal.

Isbell’s father, Neal Isbell, said it is almost impossible not to overlap spraying without using a guidance system.

“It is a big savings economically and to the environment because there is not a lot of excess chemicals out there,” he said.

Shane Isbell said damaging the land with excess chemicals is the last thing a farmer wants.

“This is our livelihood,” he said while reaching down to the soil.

“Farmers are the original environmentalists. I am going to protect that dirt with life and limb because that’s what I need to support my family.”

Isbell Farms also has taken advantage of aerial imagery that lets them look at each specific area of the field from overhead photos.

Images of fields can show which areas are growing well and which areas are not.

Feel free to visit the article and leave your comments since they have that feature enabled.


HHD “first look”

Melissa Sandfort

The 30th Anniversary Husker Harvest Days 400-acre field demonstration area offered a chance to compare machines side-by-side. And that’s exactly what farmers of all ages recently experienced — a first-look at the newly launched John Deere equipment at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Neb.

Husker Harvest Days it is a working show…growers get a chance to see implements work under actual field conditions. Seeing a tool perform at Husker Harvest Days is worth dozens of talks with salesmen.

hhd2.jpgThey also had a chance to see the biggest and most technologically advanced machines in the world zip through corn during the show. And what modern farm show would be complete without precision farming exhibits? At HHD, new tractors equipped with autosteer and similar equipment strutted their stuff in the familiar Ride ‘n Drive area and visitors had a chance to visit with John Deere representatives as well as take a hands-free test drive.

Visit or your local John Deere dealer for more information on the complete list of new products available for the 2008 growing season.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Jackson, Farm Progress Companies.

Events, General

Study Results for Using Precision Ag in Corn

Chuck Zimmerman

Science DailyA story on Science Daily points to a study conducted by China Agricultural University, the Precision Agriculture Center of University of Minnesota and Mosaic Crop Nutrition that shows the value of precision agriculture.

The study was conducted on two commercial corn fields in eastern Illinois in 2001 and 2003 involving two corn hybrids and five different N fertilizer application rates across the landscape. Nitrogen response of corn yield and quality were fitted at different within-field locations, and the potential impacts of different N management strategies were evaluated against a uniform rate of N application that is a common farmer’s practice in the region.

The results indicated that one hybrid was found to have higher yield, quality and distribution to suppliers than the other hybrid under either a uniform or varied nitrogen application. Results also showed that varying nitrogen applied to localized within-field conditions and hybrid differences could either increase corn yield with similar or higher nitrogen rates or maintain yield with less nitrogen application, without any significant improvement of grain quality. The study was funded by Cargill Crop Nutrition (now Mosaic Company), Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

You’ll need to be a subscriber to download the results from the study which are published in the September-October 2007 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.


John Deere hits the road

Melissa Sandfort

hhd07ban.jpgThis week, John Deere hits the road to farm shows including the Big Iron Farm Show and Husker Harvest Days. Fargo, North Dakota hosts the Big Iron show again this year on Sept. 11-13.

Husker Harvest Days also kicks off Sept. 11-13 in Grand Island, Neb. Be sure to stop by the John Deere booth to see the newly launched products and Ag Management Solutions precision farming services. And, stay tuned to for reports from Husker Harvest Days.


Check Your GPS

Cindy Zimmerman

IA SoyThe Iowa Soybean Association is working to get information out to growers about updating GPS equipment through a media release sent out September 5.

Farmers who rely on GPS for yield monitors or easy-steer on tractors should be aware of some changes that may affect them this fall.

“The Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the Wide Area Augmentation Service (WAAS) for GPS differential correction, replaced two older satellites and new ones in July,” says Pat Reeg, field operations manager with the Iowa Soybean Association.

IA Soy ReegWhile the new satellites will give GPS users increased signal strength and more accuracy, it’s possible that users may have to update the firmware in their receivers in order to receive signal correction from them.

“The change in satellites affects only WAAS GPS,” Reeg says. “And not all WAAS receiver systems will be affected. It does not impact OmniSTAR, John Deere SF2 or SF2, or the Nationwide Differential GPS, which is the old Coast Guard Beacon System.”

Reeg says if you’re not certain whether the change will affect your GPS receiver, all you need to do is turn it on and check to make sure you’re receiving a differential correction signal. If you are, you’re set to go. If not, you’ll need to replace the firmware in your receiver with an updated version.

“It’s especially important for growers participating in ISA On-Farm Network™ replicated strip trial studies, since we’re looking for accurate information on which to base future crop production decisions,” Reeg says.

The On-Farm Network, a program of the Iowa Soybean Association, assists growers in conducting on-farm studies of crop production products and practices.

Equipment, General, Satellite