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

Farm Industry News Promotes

Cindy Zimmerman

FINFarm Industry News has produced a special e-newsletter that features articles about some of the latest precision agriculture technology.

The newsletter is designed to deliver timely educational information about tools and methods that can help growers profit from precision farming and first-hand grower experience with tools/services and the profit they achieve. Each issue will include two articles for each grower proficiency level (novice and pro). These pieces will focus on educational/news topics. Another story will highlight grower experience with precision farming profitability.

The articles in the first issue, written by reporter Kurt Lawton, cover a number of important topics, including:

Why let your tractor drive itself?
Lightbar versus assisted steering
Assisted steering and the value of RTK
First look at GPS-based planter controls
Grower experience: Why RTK?

Lots of valuable precision information here! To subscribe to this e-newsletter, click here.

Education, Equipment, Farm Industry News E-newsletter, General

Why let your tractor drive itself?

Melissa Sandfort

Farm Industry News GPS-guided assisted steering• Improves accuracy (tillage, planting, spraying, fertilization)
• Reduces fuel, seed, herbicide, fertilizer costs
• Allows daylight accuracy during night operations, at faster speeds
• Allows the driver to focus on the implement
• Reduces driver stress, body aches and pains

If you want any of these benefits, then you should consider this satellite-driven technology, now entering its 10th year on the market. It’s all about making your equipment more precise and more cost-effective … and giving yourself a break from stress, too.

University researchers — and farmers who use assisted steering — have proven a consistent 5 to 10 percent reduction in overlap. And in situations like spraying where you try to follow globs of disappearing marker foam 30 to 45 ft. to the side of your tractor, you can imagine that the payback from assisted steering can be even higher.

Now, do the math. There’s 5 to 10 percent fuel savings for every operation (tillage, anhydrous/liquid fertilizer, preplant/preemergent herbicides, planting, etc.). There’s 5 to 10 percent reduced cost for inputs (fertilizer, herbicides, etc.). To help you ballpark your own savings, use the Guidance Calculator on the right-hand side of this page.

Reducing overlap is just one way that assisted steering makes a farming operation more efficient. Experienced users with field data maps find even greater savings with variable-rate fertilizer, strip-tillage, varied seeding rates and numerous other methods.

Content courtesy of Farm Industry News.

Education, General

The Precision Ag Minute

Cindy Zimmerman

Precision MinuteThis Precision Ag Minute is about how John Deere’s Green Star 2 AutoTrac System provides more control with less effort.

Peter Shinn with Brownfield Network talked to Delbert Armstrong, Jr., of North Carolina about how AutoTrac helps him stay on the tractor more hours each day. “It’ll pay for itself time and time again,” he says.

You can listen to the latest Precision Ag Minute here: Listen to MP3 Precision Ag Minute 8 (1 min mp3)

Audio, Education, Equipment, General, Precision Ag Minute

Producer Profile: Gerald Thompson

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.

Gerald Thompson
Colfax, Illinois

John Deere components used: AutoTrac

Q: What value does your precision ag system deliver?
A: Until you use it, you don’t realize how much time you spend steering the tractor through the field. AutoTrac allows you to work longer, avoid overlapping by 5 feet (over doing it by hand), eliminates skips, and allows you to work in inclement weather conditions.

Your last trip is as good as the first one, day in and day out. My father is 77 years old and his attitude is: “Leave me alone – I don’t want to get out of this nice, controlled environment!”

We also chose to buy a smaller combine with AutoTrac because we’re still more efficient. And it’s easy to switch from planting to spraying to harvest.

Q: What would you tell other growers thinking about investing in precision ag?
A: When you buy a new tractor, I wouldn’t buy it without it. It’s like buying a tractor without air conditioning! I just wouldn’t do it. Give it a try – I know you’ll like it.

You can listen to the interview with Gerald here: Listen to MP3 Gerald Thompson (3:30 min mp3)

Audio, Precision in Practice