Genome sequencing
Seed companies now churn out millions of data points in a given day that will contribute to the development of new seed products. A decade ago, it could have taken an entire year to generate the same amount of data. Computers and number-crunching software have allowed breeders to analyze these vast amounts of data faster and more efficiently, which means companies are able to bring new seed products to the market much faster than in the past. Seed companies have their own proprietary technology for this software. For example, DuPont Pioneer’s trait identification process is called Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT). The company describes the process as a funnel where their DNA data points flow, and where gene mapping, breeding, trait integration, precision phenotyping and finally, product development happens. -Kathy Huting

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A popular feature on telematics systems that keep track of farm equipment in the field, geofencing allows the user to build a virtual fence around equipment using GPS coordinates. So when equipment leaves the fenced-in area, the telematics system sends a text message or e-mail alert. This can help avert theft, or simply let you know that your planter, sprayer or combine has finished work in a field and is moving on to the next. Similarly, telematics curfews can alert you when a machine is started after working hours.
-David Hest

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The United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) is the big name in satellite-based navigation systems. But the Russian-built Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is playing an increasingly important role in high-end navigation systems used in agriculture and other industries. This is because the total number of satellites visible to a navigation receiver affects accuracy. So using a navigation receiver that can access both GPS and GLONASS satellites helps assure the best possible accuracy by roughly doubling the potential number of navigation satellites that can be accessed. Receivers that can receive both GPS and GLONASS satellite signals often are called GNSS (global navigation satellite system) receivers. -David Hest

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Hybrid tractors
New hybrid technology, similar to that used in hybrid cars, is being used in farm vehicles to cut fuel costs while reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. One type of hybrid technology is hydrogen power, showcased on New Holland’s NH2 prototype tractor.  It is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that runs electric motors on the tractor. New Holland Agriculture reaffirms its role as the Clean Energy Leader by announcing the release of the second-generation hydrogen-powered NH2TM tractor.

Diesel-electric hybrids are another type of hybrid where the traditional diesel engine generates power, but electric motors work in place of a standard transmission to transfer power to the ground. Four examples of these electrified platforms are the John Deere 7030 Series E-Premium tractors, the AGCO RoGator E sprayer, the Belarus Tractor International 3023 tractor, and the Rauch EDR fertilizer spreader. In testing the diesel-electric hybrids have shown a fuel savings as high as 25% over traditional diesel-powered vehicles.

This year at the SIMA show in Paris, John Deere showed a concept hybrid called the “Multifuel Tractor,” which runs on different mineral or plant fuels in a single tank. The engine is equipped with sensors that measure the properties of the fuel and make adjustments that allow it to run and also meet meet Tier 4 pollution control requirements. It is not available for sale. -Jodie Werhspann

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Insect resistance
Weeds are not the only pests becoming resistant to crop protection products. Insects have joined the crowd and are showing their ability to adapt and overcome genetically enhanced traits, insecticides and plant breeding programs. Corn rootworm has developed resistance to the Bt corn trait, which targets rootworms. CRW resistance may develop in six to seven years if techniques are not used to slow it. The techniques include crop rotation; fulfilling refuge requirements for non-Bt corn; switching traits from year to year; and returning to an integrated pest management (IPM) approach rather than planting and leaving the crop alone until harvest without scouting.

Insect resistance also appears in soybeans. Soybean aphids and spider mites are of particular concern because insecticide resistance has been documented for them in the Midwest. Few insecticides are on the market to control these two pests. A return to an IPM approach is also recommended to prevent insect resistance from developing further in soybeans. -John Pocock

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