For full list of articles from the 2010 Sourcebook, click here.
Affordability and reliability are two factors holding producers back from utilizing technology like the sub-inch accuracy of Real-Time Kinematics (RTK). These technologies can help to dramatically boost yields by enabling everything from auto-steer to data collection to accurate placement of seed, chemicals and nutrients.
New in 2010 is an RTK system from Raven that may alleviate those two issues by using cell towers to transmit data. According to the company, besides quadrupling RTK coverage areas and eliminating the need for line-of-sight to a base station, the startup cost is about one-third that of a typical RTK system.
“With typical RTK you have limited range and have to set up your own towers and use repeaters,” says Kevin Covey, Equipment Technologies’ product support manager. The firm designs and manufactures self-propelled crop sprayers.
Gathering data doesn’t seem to be a holdup for producers. It’s how to relate that data to field operations to gain yields and profits. To get efficiency and yields to the next level, manufacturers and dealers must work to educate growers on how technology impacts all aspects of their operations.
“With Raven’s Slingshot, data is transferred through existing public CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) networks or dealer- owned base stations. The customer simply buys a subscription. It’s more precision on more acres at less cost.”
Producers may have to fight their teenagers for the tractor or sprayer as the system includes a modem with full wireless Internet access right in the cab.
Besides being handy for transmitting data wirelessly to farm headquarters and checking weather and markets, the Internet connection can help keep field operations moving.
“Internet in the cab allows for remote tech support,” Covey says. “If there is a problem or a question with the unit, the farmer can contact support from the cab and support can dial into the machine and look at what’s going on.”
Questions about the computer, calibration, auto-steer operation, data transmission and many others can be solved without the tractor, or the operator, ever leaving the field. Covey says about 70% of technical issues can be resolved through remote access.
“A more consistent signal will mean more accurate steering, more accurate placement of the machine in the field and more accurate placement of chemicals and nutrients,” Covey says. “More accuracy will translate to better yields and less money out-of-pocket for inputs.”
Utilizing Collected Data
Gathering data doesn’t seem to be a holdup for producers, it’s how to relate that data to field operations to gain yields and profits.
Some systems can be overwhelming, says Jessica Reis, AgLeader marketing communications specialist.
To get efficiency and yields to the next level with data gathering and precision technology, she says precision agriculture industry players — manufacturers and dealers alike — must work to educate consumers on how technology can impact all aspects of their operations.
“For example, AgLeader offers 1-day and 3-day certified training on our SMS software, which can be used to organize and manage precision farming data,” Reis says. “Growers, crop consultants and dealers can get a better handle on what they can do with software and how to utilize the data to the producer’s advantage.”
They learn how to build equations for variable rate prescriptions and to normalize yield data to determine trends over multiple years.
“It’s not just about products, it’s about training so producers can bring that technology full circle on their farm, not stop at auto-steer,” she says.
“We feel data collection is really going to help, but to get to 300 bushels producers have to take the time to analyze and appreciate the value data provides in helping them make management decisions.”
For full list of articles from the September 2010 Sourcebook, click here. Or the links below.