If the news about StarLink has made you afraid to grow genetically modified crops, a new crop-tracking service may give you more confidence. The service, called CropTracer, allows you to record everything from seed planted to inputs applied so you can prove the integrity of the grain you deliver to the elevator.

With this service, John Deere provides the machinery and hardware to collect the information, VantagePoint Network stores the data and generates reports, and CropVerifeye.com LLC verifies the data collected and audits third-party testing of the grain.

“We’re the first ones to tie everything together into a complete tracking system,” says Barry Nelson, director of public relations for John Deere.

How it works. Using John Deere’s Global Positioning System receiver, mobile processor, display unit and new data collection software called FieldDoc, you can record field conditions, tillage practices, seed variety and population, herbicides applied, and weather conditions to get a record of what you’ve done where in your field.

You can transfer this information to disk and download it to your office PC or, in the future, to the VantagePoint storage bank on the Web. Upon your request, VantagePoint will generate reports required by food contractors or processors. During the growing season, representatives from CropVerifeye will inspect and audit the entire crop production process and test the grain.

Benefits. Having this information provides two benefits to growers, according to Jim Mock, co-founder and vice-president of CropVerifeye. “First, it lets contract growers know up front whether they are in compliance with the terms of the contract,” he says. “If not, and you know it soon enough, you can make a business decision whether you want to harvest it or bring it to a different facility.”

Second, it gives non-contract growers a base to show they handled their crop in a certain way and prove it is of a certain quality, which may entitle them to a premium for that grain.

Cost of the service is as follows: FieldDoc key card to download to VantagePoint: $500; VantagePoint Network storage: $19.95/month subscription; CropVerifeye access and field service fee: $0.02 to $0.03/bu.

For more information, contact John Deere Agricultural Marketing Center, 11145 Thompson Ave., Lenexa, KS 66219, 913/310-8324, www.John Deere.com.