Invisible Force

RFID TagsNot long ago, a technology known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, burst onto the scene as the ultimate answer to accurate inventory control. RFID is essentially comprised of two key components — a chip which contains information, and a reader that can pick the information off the chip from various distances depending on the sophistication of the system.

RFID technology has become ubiquitous on many toll roads (chip placed on windshield and read by a scanner at the toll booth) and in high-security clearance areas (chip placed on worker badges) to streamline security and traffic control.

But it has been used on precious few other applications — until recently. Rich Bravman, president and CEO of Intelleflex, a company that specializes in RFID technology, is helping a number of industries apply the technology in productive ways. He explained that RFID is a technology that is finally “Crossing The Chasm,” to quote the famous technology evolution book by Geoffrey Moore, and is already positively affecting product distribution and tracking in agriculture.

There are applications both extremely simple and wildly complex to which RFID technology is being applied. At the ag dealership, a good example of a company taking baby steps toward using RFID is Bear River Supply in Rio Oso, CA.

Based in the north Sacramento Valley serving rice, specialty, and row crop growers, Bear River will loan equipment for growers to use throughout the year, but in particular during the busy spring season. “They use pull spreaders, liquid fertilizer applicators, storage tanks, tenders, spreaders, and other equipment,” says Rich French, location manager at Bear River. “Tracking this equipment has always been a challenge — it goes out and sometimes stays there, and sometimes moves from farmer to farmer. So we were looking for some way to keep track of it.”

They decided to give the RFID system a try. In Bear River’s case, the system utilizes a reader at the location entrance, individual and inexpensive RFID tags for each piece of traced equipment, and software to record reader data when it recognizes a tag.

Each piece of equipment gets a plastic RFID tag, which is loaded with information about the unit it is identifying. When a piece of equipment leaves the yard, the reader picks up the tag information and sends it wirelessly to the office computer, which displays and records the information. Because the equipment is delivered by Bear River employees to the grower location, the destination of the equipment can be easily confirmed by the employee.

If the equipment needs to be moved from one grower location to another, the employee can pick up the equipment, move it to another location, and mark the new location using a portable tag reader. Back at the office, the information can be loaded into the system, which updates the location of the equipment.

More Possibilities

French says that while the simple equipment tracking is making a big difference for their business, “we are still getting our arms around this and learning new ways to use it every day.”

French says that he expects to be expanding his use of RFID tagging next season. He hopes to be using it to track down “lost” equipment by bringing out portable readers to farm sites. They will also be using it for more types of equipment that tend to get lost in the shuffle of the busy season. “We deliver tanks with gas engine pumps that cost $500 to $1,000, and if you can recover one or two of these that grower lose track of, you do very well,” says French.

They are also looking at storing more information on the tags, including maintenance records for internal and regulatory purposes. “We would like to use them on more vehicles to tell us where a vehicle went, and track information about where products were delivered and who is using what service.”

Finally, French is exploring the use of tags to establish a fixed location. “If we tag a portable storage tank, we can set the tank and mark a GPS point,” says French. “That way, when we send trucks to deliver to that particular tank location, the GPS mark becomes a way point that we can indicate on a map and provide mapped navigation to the driver.”

French admits that he’s only touched the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to RFID technology, “but we’re constantly looking for new ways to use it.”

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

ScoutPro iPad
Precision AgWhat’s Trending In Soil Testing And Scouting
April 6, 2016
Keeping up on soil testing and scouting, especially following unusual weather conditions, can play a role in maximizing yields. Soil Read More
EquipmentDTN Launches Ag Retailer Focused Data Management Program
April 5, 2016
As farm data multiplies exponentially, ag retailers need help leveraging the power of big data to better serve their customers Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
EquipmentDeere’s Acquisition of Hagie: 3 Things We Learned
March 29, 2016
It seems like the biggest news stories in agriculture always break on a Tuesday. Today John Deere announced it had Read More
HerbicidesPrecision Ag, Weed Control Practices Both Key In Herbicide Resistance Fight
March 15, 2016
Integrating precision ag technology with long-time weed control practices may allow producers to increase weed control effectiveness, reports Loretta Sorensen Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Eric SfiligojBiotech Corn Drop More Economics Vs. Consumer Rejection
April 18, 2016
Since their introduction into the agricultural marketplace, biotech crops has steadily grown in acreage in the countries of the world Read More
Crop InputsBayer: 5 Reasons We Disagree With Maryland Neonic Ban
April 12, 2016
We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners Read More
Corn
OpinionChallenging Global Economic Conditions Putting More Heat On U.S. Ag Retailers
April 7, 2016
There it is. That vague, slightly sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Things are getting weird out there. Read More
ScoutPro iPad
Precision AgWhat’s Trending In Soil Testing And Scouting
April 6, 2016
Keeping up on soil testing and scouting, especially following unusual weather conditions, can play a role in maximizing yields. Soil Read More
Latest News
BAICOR
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Utah Specialty Fertilizer Company
April 28, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, has acquired a majority interest in BAICOR, L.C. BAICOR, Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Adds Vice President Of Business…
April 28, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences has announced the addition of Marc Treurniet to the plant health and nutrition company’s management team. Treurniet Read More
ManagementBiotech Crops Developments and Millennials
April 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf talk about the latest activities in biotech crops and a major shift in the Read More
Industry NewsNachurs-Alpine, Pathway Biologic Extend Marketing Agree…
April 28, 2016
Nachurs-Alpine Solutions (Marion, OH) and Pathway Biologic (Plant City, FL) announce an extension to their exclusive marketing agreement specific to Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide…
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More
Corn Field
HerbicidesNew Wilbur‐Ellis Herbicide Targets Volunteer Corn
April 28, 2016
Wilbur‐Ellis Co., a recognized leader in marketing and distribution of crop protection products, as well as precision agriculture technology, has Read More
StewardshipNRCS To Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts On Wa…
April 27, 2016
The USDA has announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as Read More
Planter in Iowa
EquipmentTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant16
April 27, 2016
Despite some wet weather in parts of the Midwest, growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s Read More
HerbicidesHELM AGRO Launches New HELM Sulfentrazone 4F Herbicide
April 26, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the federal Section 3 registration of its new HELM Sulfentrazone 4F herbicide. Classified as a Read More
Valley Irrigation Valley 8000 series on corn
EquipmentValley Irrigation Receives Environmental Stewardship Ho…
April 26, 2016
Valley Irrigation has been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation. The Groundwater Guardian Green Site Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
ManagementIllinois Leads The Nation In 4R Certified Nutrient Mana…
April 22, 2016
As Illinois agriculture works to educate farmers about minimizing environmental impact and optimizing the use of ag nutrients, Illinois now leads Read More
Social media
Matt Hopkins7 Social Media Trends Shaping Ag Retail In 2016
April 22, 2016
After writing my last column on why social media is a must for ag retailers, I heard from several readers Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Corey Abels To Midwest Sales Te…
April 22, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Corey Abels as Territory Sales Manager for the Midwest region. In Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesHELM AGRO US Unveils New Sheridan 25 WG Herbicide
April 22, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the federal Section 3 registration of its new Sheridan 25 WG herbicide for selective Read More
ManagementCentennial’s Jim Fargo Talks Ag Retail
April 21, 2016
Special guest Jim Fargo discusses challenges facing this CropLife 100 retailer. Read More