Fields Of Innovation

Deere Swath Control Pro Controller

In a year of high fertilizer costs, mediocre crop prices, and drought, dealers and their grower-customers could use some good news. That’s where the technology gurus of our industry come in, helping to make every last input dollar count with innovations that save money and time — and increase productivity. This year saw no shortage of new and improving scientific know-how, and here we provide a quick review.

Guidance Gets Better

Guidance and precision technologies got huge amounts of attention this year. Here are five innovations we covered extensively:

RTK Surges. The rise in use of real-time kinematic (RTK) tower networks has been a boon for growers, especially in geographies that can have trouble with satellite GPS signal reception. Different players — including retailers, farm equipment dealerships, and independent technology companies — are putting up the equipment to serve customers. For instance, Sam Freesmeyer, AGCO‘s global technologies program director, reports that in North Dakota, local Challenger, John Deere, and Case dealers teamed up to build towers, blanketing the entire Red River Valley with an RTK signal. And Morag Greenberg, Trimble‘s marketing communications manager, reports the company now runs RTK networks between 60 and 65 million acres so far in North America.

Subscription Services Gain. At the same time, subscription services are duking it out for those GPS signal dollars. John Pointon, director of sales and marketing with OmniSTAR, reports that the company saw record subscription sales over the summer and fall, with purchases “expanding faster than we had reasonably expected. And based on feedback we’re getting from the field, we don’t see a flattening any time soon.” Part of the reason? Improving GPS technology for autosteer and “the associated requirement for a high accuracy signal,” he says.

Automatic Steering Comes Standard. Many tractor and application rig manufacturers are releasing new equipment that comes with autosteer capabilities, well, automatically. Prices are coming down, and autosteering can now be integrated with other great options such as automatic boom section control.

Cabs Get A Clean-Up. Also on the rise has been the development of a single terminal to control all functions in cabs for precision application. “Applicators’ cabs are starting to look like the interior of a lunar capsule, with all the monitors, screens, and control boxes required to run multiple applications,” notes Dan Iseminger, business development manager with Kee Technologies North America, a Division of Topcon Positioning Systems. “A single cab controller that operates all the functions coveted by today’s grower-customers (i.e. auto steering, mapping, guidance, automatic section control spraying, variable-rate application, planting, and fertilizing) from one screen and one console is ideal.”

“Service providers and farmers don’t want to have multiple displays in the cab to do different precision agriculture functions. We believe the trend will continue to consolidate more features into one display,” agrees Dave King, marketing manager, Ag Leader Technology.

Power Of The Boom. Whether it’s automatic boom spray controls or boom height adjustment, more manufacturers are offering these features to capture ever more input-sensitive customers. “Auto boom control allows a user to pay more attention to other important tasks in the cab and be more productive,” says Michael Helling, manager, flow control with Trimble.

Visual Guidance Enough. As the guidance market settles out with different skill levels of users, a mid-range selection of products and prices has emerged that combines lightbars with simpler computer screens. Examples include Midwest Technologies‘ CenterLine 220 and Raven’s Envizio.

Software Sizzles. Two major retailer software developers reported upgrades in 2006. SSI now offers Agvance 4.3 and E-Markets/CINCH is set to release Agri-Suite 7.0 shortly. The programs continue to make total business management easier than ever. Then too, software that dealers can take to the field via hand-held computers/portable PCs is getting more powerful — so users can have a lighter workload back at the office.

A Time For Transferability

With so many companies creating GPS/precision magic, it was only a matter of time before they had to get on the same page with hardware connections — for the sake of their customers and the future of the market.

“OEMs are beginning to accept the approach of ‘open architecture’ in the system adaptability of their equipment,” says Iseminger. “They will open up the electronic system architecture to allow various companies to interact their particular systems with their machines. For example, a purchaser of a Versatile tractor may be able to select from an Ag Leader Insight console, Raven Viper, Mid-Tech, or Zynx X-20 as his control system — and be able to plug right into the tractor’s wiring harness.”

Indeed, the philosophy of using outside technology from experts has been a guiding principle at AGCO Corp. “We work with various manufacturers with technology pieces we think are going to be the best overall fit. The focus on AGCO machines is much toward standardization, going for open standards,” says Freesmeyer. “If you happen to like somebody else’s technology better, great; we like to make sure you can plug it in without getting caught by a proprietary interface.”

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgMaximizing Returns From Water Inputs
March 3, 2014
Irrigation manufacturers have developed some vital new technologies to fine-tune irrigation and save growers money, water, energy and labor. Read More
Todd Golly and UAVs
Precision AgReal-World UAV Experience In Agriculture
February 3, 2014
Minnesota grower Todd Golly shares his views on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Read More

Trending Articles

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More

Latest News

Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More