Precision Ag Fuels Green Revolution

Cindy Zimmerman

BoggsA recent editorial by Ohio Director of Agriculture Robert Boggs notes that precision agriculture is helping to fuel the “green energy revolution” in his state and nationwide.

Farmers, the founders of environmental stewardship, not only work hard to make every day “Earth Day,” they also adapt with the times to work smarter, increase efficiencies, and produce superior products that are good for the producer, good for the people, and good for the environment.

Ask any farmer and you will find that conservation farming practices such as no-till, riparian buffers, grassed waterway maintenance, and windbreaks to control erosion are common practices in the industry. In addition, precision farming, using satellite maps and computer models, allows farmers to use fewer fertilizers and pesticides while producing higher quality, higher yielding crops. These advancements sharpen the efficiency of agriculture and help maintain agriculture’s strong, beneficial presence in Ohio.


Texas Ag Commissioner to Kick-off Precision Expo

Cindy Zimmerman

TPPATodd Staples, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, will attend and make introductory remarks at the Precision Ag Expo that will be held September 6, at the Ollie Liner Center in Plainview, TX.

The Expo is sponsored by the Texas Plant Protection Association (TPPA) and co-sponsored by USDA-ARS, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Cooperative Extension, New Mexico State University, Texas Tech University, West Texas A & M University, International Plant Nutrition Institute, National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants and the Texas Farm Bureau Texas Agriculture publication.

The Precision Ag Expo will be a day-long event that will begin at 8 AM. The Expo agenda will include both classroom style presentations and “hands-on” demonstrations and discussions in the field. This will be great opportunity for all involved in farming to learn about the latest precision ag practices and products from those that are leaders in working with this new technology.

Registration and other information is available on-line.

Education, Events

Volunteers Sought For PrecisionAg Occupation Survey

Melissa Sandfort

Do you (or someone you know) work as a Precision Agriculture Specialist/Technician? Or perhaps your work involves supervising or training Precision Agriculture Specialists/Technicians? If either of your answers is “Yes,” then we need your help.

Under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment & Training Administration, the National O*NET Center is seeking precision professionals to answer questions about their work for a national occupational database. Selected volunteers receive a $40 honorarium.

header_logo.gifA well-known nonprofit research organization, RTI International, working with the National O*NET Center, under a grant from the United States Department of Labor/Employment & Training Administration, is asking for help with an important national project to gather information describing the work that people do in over 800 different occupations.

We are looking for people with expertise in the occupation of Precision Agriculture Specialists/Technicians to answer survey questions about Precision Agriculture work, as part of the O*NET Data Collection program.

By volunteering to assist in these efforts, you will help the O*NET database to accurately reflect the realities of the American workplace, and you will be doing your part to represent the occupation of Precision Agriculture Specialists/Technicians on behalf of the entire profession. Thank you in advance for volunteering!

What is O*NET? The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is the nation’s primary source of occupational data, allowing millions of employers, workers, educators and students across the country see what it takes to do the work of over 800 occupations (including that of Precision Agriculture Specialists/Technicians).

This information is provided free of charge online to the general public.


MapShots Focuses on Crop Data Management

Cindy Zimmerman

Taylor Map ShotsMapShots is a software development company specializing in crop management applications for agriculture. The company’s flagship product, EASi Suite, is a desktop software application that is a complete crop management software package, providing crop planning, crop recordkeeping and GIS/Precision Ag functionality.

MapShots Director of Corporate Solutions Tim Taylor was at the recent InfoAg conference in Springfield, Illinois to demonstrate their software tools and what they offer to growers and crop consultants. “EASi Suite has a full set of precision ag capabilities,” said Taylor. “From being able to create variable rate prescription files that can be exported to a controller such as the Deere GreenStar 2. In addition, we can take data that’s collected during a field operation and import that data and turn it into a true crop record that would show what products were used, at what rates, what quantities and assign cost information to that. So, they can basically have automated record keeping.”

Taylor says they actually try to avoid using the term “precision ag” and talk instead about crop data management. “We may collect that with a device like the GreenStar 2 which is really becoming more pervasive in equipment today,” Taylor says. “Eventually, we feel that most field operations will be captured through some type of automatic data capture similar to the way the GreenStar 2 controller works.”

Listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Tim here: Listen to MP3 Map Shots Interview (5:00 min mp3)

Audio, Equipment, General, Software

Let the farm shows begin!

Melissa Sandfort

The annual Virginia Ag Expo will be held Aug. 8, beginning at 7:30 a.m., at Renwood Farms in Charles City County. The annual event is the largest agricultural field day held in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Renwood Farms is a large grain and seed processing farm located on the James River, not far upstream from the historic Jamestown settlement, which celebrated its 400 birthday this year.

Growers will have an opportunity to view the 2007 Virginia on-farm corn and soybean test plots. There will be corn and soybean seeding rate plots, corn and soybean weed control plots, seed treatment and fungicide plots.

Participants will be able to go from exhibit to exhibit and visit with the various exhibitors at their own pace.

ipmlogo01.gifThe theme for this year’s Expo is “400 years of American Agriculture”.

In addition to the many exhibits, and things to see on this operation, field plots will highlight corn and soybean varieties, plant population/density research, corn response to nitrogen, and antique corn varieties.

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the 2007 Expo. Rick Tolman CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and senior leadership of the American Soybean Association will also be on the program.

A large outdoor exhibit area will give farmers an opportunity to see the latest farm equipment and products and provide an arena for visiting with industry leaders during the Expo.

There is a $10 registration fee which includes a barbecue lunch, snow cones and beverages. For ticket information and directions to Renwood Farms contact John Smith ( or Molly Pugh (

The 2007 Virginia Ag Expo is a joint project of the Virginia Corn Growers Association, the Virginia Soybean Association and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service.

Information/story courtesy of Southeast Farm Press.


This month’s helpful links…

Melissa Sandfort

Links of the month
by Kurt Lawton, Farm Industy News

Midwest Independent Soil Samplers — Tom McGraw’s newsletters are a MUST READ (knowledge+wisdom+entertainment=excellence in my book)

Sensing Nitrogen Stress in Corn – 2006

Corn Response to Supplemental Nitrogen – 2007

Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin)

Concepts and Rationale for Regional Nitrogen Rate Guidelines for Corn — 2006

USDA Geospatial Data Gateway — Find maps of your fields. (You will need GIS software to view them.)

“Next up Robots” — Farm Industry News, March 2007

Education, General

Harvesting Information

Cindy Zimmerman

SSTManaging data well on the farm can help growers harvest a wealth of information to help them operate more efficiently. One company that helps growers do that is SST Development Group of Stillwater, Okla.

Operations manager Matt Waitts says SST is a software and information services company started in 1994. “We have an extensive record-keeping program for producers to record all their field activities, such as planting and spraying. We have a desktop component and a mobile handheld unit that can be taken out into the field.”

“We’re really focused on providing tools that let growers have more information about what’s going on out in the field so they can learn what’s working and what’s not working,” said Matt, seen here demonstrating those tools at the recent InfoAg conference.

Matt says SST has a partnership with John Deere “where they are using they are using our reference data base to make it easier for producers out in the cab and that data will transfer over into our products.”

Listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Matt here: Listen to MP3 SST Interview (6:00 min mp3)

Audio, Education, Events, General, Software

Central Valley Ag and Precision Farming

Cindy Zimmerman

CVAPrecision ag is an important segment of the products and services offered to members of the Central Valley Ag cooperative in Nebraska.

Glen Franzleubbers of Oakland and Keith Byerly of Tilton attended the recent InfoAg conference in Springfield, Illinois where they stopped by the John Deere Agri Services booth.

Glen says their precision ag program at CVA is called Advanced Cropping Systems. “It includes grid soil testing, directed soil sampling, variable rate fertilizer, lime, yield mapping, yield monitor support, and also the John Deere OptiGro imagery,” said Glen.

Keith says they have been amazed at the resolution of the OptiGro imagery. “Once we really saw what the resolution was, how detailed it was, I was impressed with it enough to take it to more growers than I initially planned,” he said.

Both said that grower feedback has been very positive.

Listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Glen and Keith here: Listen to MP3 CVA Interview (5:30 min mp3)

Audio, Education, General, Satellite wins at AAEA

Melissa Sandfort

corner.gifThis site,, was recently recognized by its peers by bringing home a second place award from the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) 2007 MarComm Awards program in Louisville, Ky. John Deere representatives accepted the award at the Tuesday night “Awards Night.”

Remember to visit the site on a regular basis for the latest information on precision farming.

For more information, you can also visit the John Deere Web site.


WAAS Satellite Changeover Tomorrow – Are You Ready?

Melissa Sandfort

Tomorrow, July 31, two satellites in the Wide Area Augmentation System constellation will be shut down by the government. The two satellites that have taken their place have been active and working for some time now, but the shutdown will have an impact on the differential correction accuracy of certain GPS receivers.

The two satellites, numbers 122 and 134, are scheduled to be shut off permanently at around 8:00 am EST. Many GPS receivers currently in service were configured specifically to lock into signals from those specific satellites, and must be reconfigured by the manufacturer. In the field, these units will not be able to achieve differential correction.

Some units manufactured by Midwest Technologies/TeeJet, Raven Industries, Trimble, and Hemisphere GPS are among those affected. For more information, click here.