Precision Ag Education Meeting

Melissa Sandfort

The ASA-John Deere program represents an education-based partnership that encourages producers to both figuratively and literally “Reach For The Stars” with global positioning satellite technology and support systems that will save resources and advance farm management practices to new heights.

ASA LOGO ® 120ppi x 63ppi.jpgThe ASA, in partnership with John Deere Ag Management Solutions, invites all growers, regardless of the color of their equipment, to take advantage of a special opportunity to learn more about precision ag systems. Visit the ASA Web site for meeting times and dates.

The state soybean association president will welcome growers and provide opening comments at the meeting. An ASA Executive Committee member will then give a presentation on how precision ag is helping to meet global demand for U.S. soy, followed by a University Extension speaker who will provide an overview of precision ag systems, and a John Deere AMS consultant who will present information about precision ag equipment and farm management software. Panel discussion to follow.

On-site registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon. Equipment demonstrations will follow lunch until about 2:30 p.m. There is no charge to participate, but pre-registration is encouraged so we can more accurately estimate how much food to prepare.

Education, Events, Reach for the Stars

FIN TV Touts OptiGro

Melissa Sandfort

tv_landing_head.JPGJodie Wehrspan, Farm Industry News TV, spoke with Jeff Kaiser, manager for John Deere Agri Services about the OptiGro system. While more farmers are going to corn on corn acres, input costs are increasing and profit opportunities are being stretched, OptiGro, an aerial remote sensing program that shows crop stress, helps to manage input costs for this growing season.

The crop consultant gets the aerial image back in a couple of days so the data can be used this season to write a prescription that will drive variable rate controllers. Visit your value-added reseller for more information or visit John Deere Agri Services online. It’s not too late to get the most for your money.

Content courtesy of Farm Industry News. Click this link and scroll down to view the video.


Photos from the Field

Cindy Zimmerman

Roger 1I got an email yesterday from Roger Godwin, our Reach for the Stars winner in Georgia. That state, as you may know, has been extremely dry this season which kept Roger from planting in a timely fashion. But, he now reports that enough rain has fallen that he has gotten out in the fields:

“We only got 2 tenths of an inch from Barry, but we got an inch and a half over the next ten days. My son Walter and I have been busy planting peanuts, cotton, and soybeans since. It is now Father’s Day and we have parked our planting unit along with the additional 8-row planter and tractor we rented from a neighbor. Besides, we are out of moisture again. We still have about 200 acres to finish planting. We are looking for showers to return around Wednesday.”

Roger 2He says what he likes best about the system is the record-keeping. “When you have to track all these chemicals and when you grow cotton, you have to keep track of every acre they go on to,” he says, and the system makes it much easier for him to do that. “You’ve got a little computer card and when you get ready to download it, you go and download it and you got a computer record.”

“I’ve been checked 3 or 4 times by the EPA for my chemical usage and all I have to do is go to the computer and print out a report,” he said. “And I can’t understand why any farmer that’s ever been checked is not using a system like this.”

Roger 4Roger also sent us these nice photos of his John Deere precision ag equipment and plans to send more. Roger is using the GreenStar™ AutoTrac™ Assisted Steering System with an AutoTrac Universal Steering Kit, a StarFire™ iTC receiver, and a John Deere SF2 signal activation; a GreenStar™ 2 System, which includes a GreenStar Display 2600 and preloaded GreenStar Basics software; and GreenStar Apex Farm Management Software.

Thanks, Roger.

Listen here to Roger’s comments about record-keeping here: Listen to MP3 Roger Godwin (1 min mp3)

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

Audio, General, Reach for the Stars, Satellite, Software

Precision Ag Conference Features “Farmer Day”

Cindy Zimmerman

InfoAg July 12th has been designated “Farmer Day” at the InfoAg 2007 International Precision Farming Conference which will be held July 10-12 in Springfield, Ill.

They are featuring a special Thursday only registration fee of $75 to attract producers from around the country to the event. The program includes producers talking about their experience with precision tools, consultants sharing their findings from on-farm trials and determined data analysis, and researchers providing practical tips for top production systems. The closing session will feature two distinguished panelists to discuss the impact on cropping systems management with the shift to broader adoption of fuel production crops.

Some highlights of the program include auto guidance, wireless technologies, high-tech scouting for rust and aphids, variable-rate nitrogen, leveraging the precision investment, remote sensing applications, and tips for maximizing PDAs and laptops.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois. Registration and more information is available on-line.

Education, General

UNL Expert on OptiGro System

Cindy Zimmerman

Randy Koenen Randy Koenen of KTIC/KWPN/Rural Radio Network in West Point, Nebraska recently interviewed Jim Schepers, USDA-ARS soil scientist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, about the OptiGro imaging program available through John Deere Agri Services.

Schepers“In years like this with lots of excessive rainfall, what happens is nitrogen losses,” Schepers says. “Too much water for two or three days will trigger de-nitrification.”

He explained to Randy how OptiGro can help correct the situation. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words,” he said. “If you can look at your entire field, that helps you start to synthesize what’s happening in terms of nitrogen losses and crop responses. This is where an aerial photograph can help you identify where you’ve got the problems and maybe why they’re there.”

Is it cost effective? Schepers says, “About a dollar an acre, that’s about a quarter of a bushel of corn – so, it’s not much.”

Listen to Randy’s interview with Jim here: Listen To MP3 Randy interview with Jim(2:55 min mp3)

Audio, Farm Broadcast Reports, General, Satellite

How OptiGro Can Help With N-Deficiency

Cindy Zimmerman

KCIMCrop stress associated with nitrogen deficiency is showing up in some fields in the Midwest.

Tracy Blackmer, an Iowa farmer who is director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association, recently talked with Neil Trobak of KCIM in Carroll, IA about the situation.

“We do a lot of field research projects around the state focusing on nitrogen in corn,” said Blackmer. “Last year we had over 250 replicated nitrogen trials that we collected yield data on and over 1000 fields that we evaluated with aerial imagery and stock nitrate.”

BlackmerIt has been a wet spring in Iowa and Blackmer says one of the biggest issues with nitrogen management is the amount of spring rainfall. “When you have enough rain to move the soil profile, the nitrate will leach out with that water.”

With rainfall this spring in western Iowa well above normal, Blackmer says they have seen a lot more nitrogen stress in corn fields than normal, which means growers should be doing late spring soil tests and monitoring their crop carefully.

“Aerial imagery is one of the better tools that will let people evaluate the entire field at one shot,” he says. “Nitrogen stress doesn’t show up uniformly across the field and an aerial image will let you look at the entire field and see any small part of it at any point in time.”

Blackmer says John Deere’s OptiGro system is one tool that provides aerial imagery and processes it so a grower can see the amount of N-stress in the field and exactly where it is located. “So a grower can go in and actually go in and correct the N-stress with equipment at any point in the field.”

“With the high price of corn right now, this is something people really want to watch closely for the bottom line.”

More information about OptiGro can be found on-line from

Listen to MP3 KCIM interview with Blackmer (4:30 min mp3)

Audio, Farm Broadcast Reports, General

Producer Profile: Steve Hafner

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.

corn.jpg Steve Hafner
Leroy, MN
2,200 acres of corn and soybeans
John Deere components used: Starfire RTK

Q: How do you utilize your guidance system?
A: I strip till in the fall, place dry fertilizer, build a burm and record all my passes. I put the data card in, come back in the spring and plant right on the fertilizer I just placed the fall before, on the same exact tract. The repeatability is a necessity. It also takes the fatigue out so I can watch the implement work.

Q: What system would you recommend?
A: For my operation and no-till/strip-till when you need repeatability and the ability to stay in the same track, I’d recommend RTK. For someone doing the same work I’m doing, I would go right to the RTK system – I wouldn’t start out on a “lower,” less expensive system. Within a year, I ended up with RTK because it’s that much more accurate.

Once people see what it does, it sells them. It almost has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Guidance systems have just cracked the tip of the iceberg with what they can do now compared to what they’ll be able to do down the road.

Precision in Practice

N Losses May Affect Growers

Melissa Sandfort

Poplar Grove, IL 2 NDVI.bmp The issue: Nitrogen deficiency stress in corn due to heavy rainfall and other factors in the Midwest this spring which may soon become more apparent in the next few weeks to put the corn crop at risk and reduce yields.

What does that mean?
1. N losses always exist.
2. Mineralization always exists. This year will probably more erratic than usual.
3. The heaviest N use begins at row closure. Imagery allows you to asses the nitrogen situation. If necessary corrective action can still be taken this year.

The solution? The OptiGro system from John Deere Agri-Services that allows growers and fertilizer dealers to assess and adjust mid-season nitrogen management.


Producer Profile: Randy Reznicek

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.

Randy Reznicek
John Deere systems used: GreenStar Yield Mapping System

Yield Monitoring Q: What exactly is yield monitoring?
A: Yield monitoring is often the first step that producers take in precision farming. This device is an electronic tool that collects data on crop performance for a given year.

Q: What are some of the benefits of yield monitoring?
A: Yield monitoring helps to identify weak areas so growers are able to properly target these specific areas. After targeting deficient areas growers are then able to properly fertilize. This process helps improve weak areas while also saving money. Instead of fertilizing the entire field, yield monitoring makes it possible to single out and fertilize only the segments that are considered weak and lack a proper amount of nutrients.

Q: Can you use yield monitoring by itself?
A: Yes. However, it seems to work better with other avenues such as grid and soil sampling. With grid sampling we find that different areas need different amounts of fertilizer.

Q: How has yield monitoring benefited growers?
A: Growers gain knowledge and insight from devices such as yield monitoring and grid sampling. This allows them to better manage their farms while also making better management decisions. When weak areas are identified and addressed, growers see positive environmental benefits while also seeing economic gain.

Q: Do growers save a significant amount of money while using this technique?
A: Through yield monitoring and the maps they provide, growers are able to identify the most underperforming areas. Growers can then sample the soil of these specific areas while not having to do the rest of the farm. This allows growers the ability to cut back on products. Not every part of a farm needs the same amount of fertilizer, and yield monitoring, with the help of soil and grid sampling, helps producers be selective in what parts of their farms need special treatment.

Precision in Practice

Another “Reach for the Stars” Winner in Illinois

Cindy Zimmerman

Brownfield NetworkDave RussellThere were a total of 15 growers nationwide who won the American Soybean Association/John Deere Reach for the Stars contest this year, and two of them were from Illinois.

Dave Russell of Brownfield Network recently caught up with Chris Von Holten of Walnut, Illinois to ask how he is enjoying the use of a John Deere precision technology package for one year free. Chris was already familiar with precision ag, but he has found new benefits with this system.

Listen here to Dave’s interview with Chris here: Listen to MP3 Chris Von Holten (2 min mp3)

Check out all of the interviews with Reach for the Stars winners in our audio archive section and check back regularly for updates throughout the growing season.

Audio, Equipment, Farm Broadcast Reports, General, Reach for the Stars