Guidance Turns 10

Melissa Sandfort

Guidance Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Back in 1997, manual and automated steering systems were introduced for use in agriculture. These first guidance systems were used in Australia and have improved greatly in accuracy, ease-of-use and functionality since then.

Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager for John Deere Ag Management Systems, says the scalability and affordability of these newer systems give producers who farm from 500 to 50,000 acres a chance to use and benefit from this technology and expand it to include mapping and variable-rate applications.

General

The Precision Ag Minute

Cindy Zimmerman

Precision MinuteThis Precision Ag Minute is about John Deere’s RTK System, which is compatible with any GreenStar™ AutoTrac™ system and takes GreenStar guidance products to the next level of accuracy and repeatability by building on the existing StarFire™ receiver.

Peter Shinn with Brownfield Network talked to Steve Hafner of Minnesota who says the RTK system has a level of control that allows him to spend less time steering his tractor. “You can turn around, you can watch your implement work,” Hafner says. “You’re not constantly concentrating on trying to drive straight,” which allows him to keep his equipment within that 8-10″ clean and stripped off area each and every pass.

You can listen to the latest Precision Ag Minute here: Listen to MP3 Precision Ag Minute 6 (1 min mp3)

Audio, Equipment, General, Precision Ag Minute

Producer Profile: Brian Allenbaugh

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.

John Deere AutoTrac SystemBrian Allenbaugh
5,000 acres of rice, corn, milo, wheat, beans
Augusta, Ark.
John Deere components used: Mapping, AutoTrac

Q: How do precision ag products benefit your operation?
A: We were early adopters of GPS systems and have been using them for about 11 years now. Over the years, we’ve seen significant improvements in guidance packages. They are easier to use and there are more things to use them on. The mobility to move them from tractor to tractor is really amazing. Next year, we’re looking at incorporating aerial photography and soil maps.

Q: What are the cost savings to owning precision ag products?
A: The mapping function allows us to analyze acres down to a “T”. We start planning for the next year immediately when we get off the combine. In the winter, it enables me to set a game plan for the next year for each field.

The AutoTrac system enables me to save on fuel, chemicals, seed and time. I was skeptical about the accuracy when we first investigated the system, but I’d hate to go without it now that I have it.

I use the John Deere system on my 1780 planter and 4700 sprayer. AutoTrac pencils out – it more than pays for itself. Growers can save money on about anything you hook up to your precision ag system.

Precision in Practice

Producer Profile: Burt Heinrich

Melissa Sandfort

John Deere mappingThe 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.

Burt Heinrich
Stripper Cotton
Lorenzo, Texas
John Deere components used: AutoTrac, Swath Control

Q: How do you use precision ag?
A: We use AutoTrac for drip irrigation – it’s important that we stay right on the rows and replicate them each year as to maximize water use. We need to be right on the money and this system allows us to do that. If one row gets too close to the underground tape, the water distribution is uneven and I end up with one row of smaller cotton.

We also recently started mapping our fields. I’ve got a good lister, but it’s still hard to put a perfect print over something that’s “not” perfect. But the mapping systems are making it easy.

Q: What are the benefits to owning a John Deere system?
A: We are able to operate more hours and run through the night. We have also put an inexperienced Texas Tech employee to work who had about 100 hours on a tractor. This would’ve been unheard of had we not had the AutoTrac guidance system. Also, our labor and chemical costs have gone down considerably. In today’s time in agriculture, efficiency is a BIG word. I feel that whatever this is costing me, I’m getting more than that back.

Q: How do you use Swath Control?
A: We operate a 24-row boom system with swath control to regulate the boom spray. This makes our sprayer more efficient with no double spraying. All I have to worry about it not hitting posts and turning around right. I guarantee it – it helps you get more done in an hour.

Precision in Practice

Producer Profile: John Hussey

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.

John Deere AutoTracJohn Hussey
4,500 acres of grain
Windfall, Indiana
John Deere components used: Mapping, 2600 Apex system, AutoTrac

Q: When do you use your precision ag products?
A: We use them throughout the season – during planting, spraying and harvest. The systems are farmer-friendly and take the fatigue out of driving.

Q: What are the cost benefits to owning the John Deere system?
A: When you compare what it costs to the tools you get, the system gives you the confidence you need that your farming operation IS working better. Precision ag gives me benefits that I didn’t have prior to owning the system and those benefits far outweigh the expense of the purchase cost.

Q: Explain the primary benefits you’ve experienced during each stage of the season.
A: Planting – AutoTrac reduces the wear and tear on your body. You also don’t have wide and narrow gaps as if you planted with a guide marker because each round is exactly the same.

Spraying – No overlap is a tremendous asset. Using foam markers, it’s virtually impossible to see 45-60 foot to one side without overlapping or leaving a gap. Using precision ag, you don’t overlap at all.

Harvest
(9760 John Deere combine) – Once you set you’re A/B line, you can harvest all the way across the field – you can skip over 400 feet and have the same width to finish with no gaps. Our biggest benefit is with soybeans because of the relaxation of the operator to scan the ground and look for obstacles in the field you don’t want to run thru your machine.

Precision in Practice

Precision Ag Reports

Cindy Zimmerman

KFRM We continue to receive reports from farm broadcasters about precision agriculture. Our latest reports come from Duane Toews of KFRM, the “Voice of the Plains” in Clay Center, Kansas.
Toews

Duane interviewed Kyle Collins of John Deere Ag Management Solutions at Commodity Classic.
Listen to MP3 Duane Interview with Kyle (3:30 min mp3)

Duane also talked with Jeff Kaiser of John Deere Agri Services about OptiGro.
Listen to MP3 Duane Interview with Jeff (3 min mp3)

Audio, Commodity Classic, Equipment, Farm Broadcast Reports, General

The Precision Ag Minute

Cindy Zimmerman

Precision MinuteThis Precision Ag Minute is about how John Deere’s AutoTrac Universal Assisted Steering system pays for itself.

Peter Shinn with Brownfield Network talked to John Hussey of Indiana who says the AutoTrac is wonderful, “It does things for you that will overrun the expense that it costs. It’s giving me benefits back that I did not have prior to having that.”

You can listen to the latest Precision Ag Minute here: Listen to MP3 Precision Ag Minute 5 (1 min mp3)

Audio, Equipment, General, Precision Ag Minute

HAT’s Off to Precision Agriculture

Cindy Zimmerman

HAT Net Use of precision agriculture technology is revolutionizing the farm equipment business. Gary Truitt with Hoosier Ag Today radio network in Indiana sent in this report with a southwest Indiana tractor dealer who talks about how precision ag has changed the way they do business in a very positive way.

According to Rich Linenburg of Vincennes Tractor, AutoTrac and GPS systems have changed the way growers use tractors and changed the way dealers support and service those machines. “Now the tractor has BlueTooth capabilities, it hooks up to our laptop, the laptop hits the cell phone connection, we’re on the internet, my service manager can see and diagnose that machine from his desktop and if he needs help the engineer in Waterloo Iowa where the tractor was built has the same screen in front of him. The technology is just unreal.”

Listen to MP3 HAT report (2:30 mp3)

Vincennes Tractor GroupOn the Vincennes Tractor website, they are encouraging farmers to form a Precision Farmer User Group.

Some farmers just like yourself have formed a user group for these products. We want this to be your group, a group that will add value to your farming operations. We will be glad to help facilitate your meetings, if you want. We can provide the meeting place, help arrange speakers, presentations, office services, training, and just about anything your group would like us to bring to the table.

Great idea!

Audio, Dealers, Education, Farm Broadcast Reports, General

USDA Studying Precision Ag

Cindy Zimmerman

John DeereResearchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit in Columbia, Missouri are studying which combinations of precision agriculture methods work best.

According to an article in the March 2007 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, researchers Newell Kitchen, Robert Lerch and Ken Sudduth are working to demonstrate how precision agriculture can be an economically viable tool for farmers.

The premise of precision agriculture systems is that farmers should tailor their management to fit specific areas of their farms instead of using a blanket treatment for everything. This means recognizing areas that have productivity and environmental problems and selecting the best solution for each one. The outcome is a system that increases profitability and conserves environmental resources.


Plenty of scientists are investigating the benefits of precision agriculture, but only a few are using an integrated approach, says soil scientist Newell Kitchen.

“Many scientists look at one variable, whereas we examine the interaction of many variables. We’re evaluating the system’s effects on production, profitability, and environment,” he says. This approach lets them assess, modify, and evaluate the effectiveness of integrated precision agriculture management practices.

Lots of great information in this article and more to come!

Education, General, Research