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 AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
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
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More