Toby Graham developed an electric-drive system that converts ground-driven planters into by-the-row variable-rate seeders with built-in row shut-off capability. Now, he’s updating the system with an optional tablet-based controller.
The capabilities of sprayer technologies that link GPS navigation systems with sophisticated by-the-nozzle controls continue to expand. Now, if you want a sprayer that can handle odd-shaped fields as well as a high-end planter with by-the-row shutoffs, aftermarket providers are leading the way.
Cloud-based computing in precision agriculture took a huge leap forward in 2012 and is likely to make another big gain in 2013.
In the past 12 months, options for using “the cloud” to provide wireless connectivity to tractor and combine displays grew dramatically, to the point it is now possible to eliminate the frustration of shuffling thumb drives to keep precision ag data up to date.
Over the past year, the market for ag-specific smartphone and tablet computer applications has gone mainstream. Now many of the big names in agriculture are offering apps to improve crop and machinery management.
Here’s a look at some of the new offerings for Android and iOS (Apple) smartphones and tablet computers.
They’re not making any more farmland, right? Wrong.
“Don’t believe that myth,” advises Mike Boehlje, an agricultural economist at Purdue University.
The Corn Belt hasn’t expanded as if by magic. But the red-hot commodity prices of recent years have stimulated a dramatic increase in new land coming into production around the globe, Boehlje says. In addition, productivity of existing farmland continues to climb as high prices justify more intense management.
Despite widespread drought that slammed Corn Belt yields in 2012, farmland prices continue their upward trajectory, though increases in recent months appear to have backed off from the 20-percent-plus annual gains of recent years.
Midyear farmland price data from the Chicago and Kansas City Federal Reserve banks, as well as surveys by Illinois and Iowa farm manager and Realtor groups, show farmland price increases of 5 to 10% in the first half of the year, substantially below the pace of recent years.
The SXBlue III-L GNSS palm-sized receiver from Geneq Inc. turns any Bluetooth-compliant smartphone, handheld, tablet, laptop or notebook computer into a fully capable GPS/GLONASS device. Out of the box, it can attain 10cm accuracy using OmniSTAR’s G2 or HP service or 1cm accuracy when connected via cellular or UHF radio to an RTK network.
Redtail Cartography’s new RTK signal mapping service offers precision ag providers and their customers a graphic depiction of coverage from radio-based RTK systems. It uses Google Earth to show high- and low-accuracy coverage areas, as well as coverage gaps resulting from hills and other topographic impediments.
The service is designed to help precision ag providers communicate, improve and expand coverage of RTK base stations, and to assist farmers and other mobile RTK users in quantifying coverage from semi-permanent or mobile base stations.