David Hest

2013 Buyer's forecast: Farmland

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.

Palm-sized receiver adds GPS/GLONASS to smartphones, tablets

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 harnesses Google Earth to pinpoint RTK coverage

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.

Video surveillance advances bring high-end security to the farm

As the value of grain, livestock and machinery continues to climb, driving down the farmstead driveway and noticing that something is amiss is getting scarier than ever.

Hemisphere GPS introduces Outback MAX with ConnX data transfer service

The new Outback MAX integrated display terminal from Hemisphere GPS offers section and variable rate control, GPS and GLONASS guidance, video support for up to four cameras, plus wireless data transfer capabilities to automatically import and export prescription application maps, as-applied files and other critical precision agriculture data.

Prescription crop nutrient management tool now online

Real-time access to complex nutrient management tools is a click away for users of the new i-F.A.R.M. Web-based resource management program from United Soils Inc. (USI).

i-F.A.R.M. is designed to bring sophisticated crop nutrient management tools to any Internet-connected computer running a Web browser, whether in the field or the office, says USI agronomist Greg Ikins. “We try to make things as easy as possible to get the best possible fertilizer recommendation to the field.”

Hemisphere offers AgJunction Mobile app to synchronize precision field data

Piggybacking on the popular iPhone and iPad operating system, new AgJunction Mobile from Hemisphere GPS brings key elements of the AgJunction precision agriculture data services platform to the field.

AgJunction Mobile is an in-field data collection system featuring GPS-enabled boundary mapping and soil sampling. In short order, it also will display yield, planting, as-applied, aerial imagery, soil sampling and electrical conductivity data as background layers for viewing and to help guide field sampling.

LightSquared files for bankruptcy

LightSquared Inc., whose proposed high-speed wireless network threatened to disrupt GPS navigation systems, including those used in agriculture, has filed for bankruptcy.


The Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed May 14 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. It followed a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision in February that it would withdraw preliminary approval for the LightSquared network after government tests confirmed that it would interfere with global positioning systems.


R7 Tool streamlines variable-rate decision making and variety selection

Winfield Solutions, the seed and crop protection products arm of Land O’Lakes, introduces a new Web-based precision planning tool that allows farmers to get a start in variable-rate seeding and fertility programs.

The R7 Tool uses satellite imagery as a stand-in for actual yield and soil test data. Working with retailer agronomists, farmers used the tool to develop crop plans on millions of acres scheduled for planting in 2012.

RTK navigation systems may boost controlled traffic farming

Controlled traffic farming barely rates a blip on the radar of farming practices across the U.S. today. But that could change as farmers become more aware of the yield-boosting potential of using real time kinematic (RTK) navigation systems to guide implements over the same tracks year after year.

At least that’s the hope of promoters of controlled traffic farming, which they say not only increases yields, but also cuts fuel costs, reduces machinery wear and tear and curtails erosion.

Onsite offers solution for cross-platform precision communications

Onsite, a new cloud-based mobile and desktop application, promises to solve the challenge of wirelessly transferring precision ag data across multiple hardware and software platforms.

Onsite also provides new avenues for tracking mixed equipment fleets, as well as key personnel, says Mike Santostefano,director of marketing and business development for AgIntegrated, the precision agriculture software development company behind Onsite.

New tools protect crop producers when dire weather strikes

Last summer, when extreme heat hit his crops, Jon Kenady slept easier than he has in the past, thanks to innovative weather insurance that paid $64,000 in claims even before the crop was harvested.

“It helps me sleep better at night when the weather goes against me,” says Kenady, who farms in west-central Illinois near Plainville. “Why sit up at night worrying about the weather?”

7 paths to faster Internet service

Posted 3/12/12


Rural areas are notoriously slow for Internet speeds. New technology can help farmers leave these slow downloads behind.

Nine outmoded technologies

In the computer and communications technology world, today’s hot technologies can become has-beens almost overnight. Here are nine that have largely gone by the wayside.

1 Dial-up modems

MultiBob sensor system automates bin level management


BinMaster’s MultiBob inventory management system automatically monitors bin levels based on readings from up to 32 SmartBob sensors strategically placed in a bin, tank, silo or flat storage warehouse. Levels are reported via eBob software, which calculates the average level or headroom and estimated percentage full. Software can be set to measure materials at scheduled time intervals or on demand.

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