Precision Agriculture: The Solutions Approach

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Trimble FmX Monitor Field IQ System

Trimble has always been known for delivering exemplary technology for precision agriculture use, but has most recently ramped up its efforts to be something much more: a provider of total technology solutions.

Trimble CEO Steve Berglund set the company on an acquisition course that brought people and resources to the table, including Rawson Controls, clutch manufacturer Tru Count, on-the-go sensor manufacturer NTech Industries, and Farm Works Software in quick succession. Each represented a piece of the precision solutions puzzle, and over the course of these acquisitions the company has been working to integrate the various components and provide its resellers with the ability to create uniquely Trimble solutions for agriculture.

Completing The Circle

At the annual Trimble resellers meeting last month, the completed circle of products and services was unveiled, which filled some voids in the company’s offering inventory and bolstered important features.

A key new component is the DCM-300 modem, which is capable of accessing Trimble VRS Now real-time kinematic corrections while simultaneously allowing for wireless data transfer over Trimble’s Connected Farm system. Job orders, coverage maps and A-B lines may be transferred wirelessly from a computer to multiple vehicles in different locations for follow-up operations, or within the same field for accurate overlap protection.

Trimble is offering two options; one for use on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular networks or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) cellular networks. Trimble offers AT&T and Verizon plans, but customers can check with their local provider for alternative plans. The modem is available with a single plan subscription provided through Trimble.

“The DCM-300 is an expansion of Trimble’s goal to continue to develop solutions that simplify a variety of farming applications taking place, often simultaneously,” said Erik Arvesen, vice president and general manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division.

Trimble also announced the release of Farm Works Dispatch, an asset tracking software that will serve as a new component of the Connected Farm solution. Dispatch uses the GPS access and wireless communications capability of the new DCM-300 modem to track vehicle movement and monitor functionality through a central computer.

The Dispatch service plan offers users a visual tool for organizing fleet movement to maximize efficiency. Using email alerts and on-screen maps, Dispatch allows the user to track the location of all field equipment. The system also makes it possible to receive alerts to potentially lost or stolen equipment. The system is compatible with Connected Farm Sync wireless data management software and VRS Now Ag’s cellular-based RTK GPS correction services.

Finally, Trimble has added capabilities to its Field-IQ system, which monitors seed delivery and fertilizer blockage and manages applications of up to six variable rate products. The product now supports row crop planters, air seeders, strip till equipment and spreader platforms.

The Field-IQ system is compatible with the guidance capabilities of the Trimble FmX display or CFX 750 touch screen display, which both run Trimble’s unique overlap detection technology. Trimble reports that farmers using the Field-IQ crop input control system for seed placement have experienced an average savings of 5% to 10% because of reduced waste and lower seed input.

The Field-IQ system is compatible with a wide variety of crop and application equipment and provides monitoring for planters, air seeders, and granular strip till systems.

Monitoring on row crop planting systems allows operators to obtain information related to how their seeding system is performing. including singulation, skips and multiples, and quality of spacing. A relatively new term, singulation is a measure of the mistakes made by a planter, such as skips and multiples, over the course of a planting operation. Like golf, the lower the number, the better the system is performing. Variable-rate fertilizer application capabilities can be driven by a prescription map or real-time with Trimble’s on-the-go sensor technology, GreenSeeker.

“The new Field-IQ enhancements optimize planter operation by delivering more accurate seed placement, giving the operators more confidence in their planting applications,” says Arvesen, vice president and general manager of Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “With the addition of rate and application control for up to six different materials, the system now manages functions that span the entire growing season.”

The new lineup for Trimble will be available in March. 

Schrimpf is the Group Editor for the CropLife Media Group at Meister Media Worldwide, with full editorial responsibility for CropLife, CropLife IRON, Cotton Grower and PrecisionAg Special Reports.

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One comment on “Precision Agriculture: The Solutions Approach

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Paul,
    your article is interesting, anyone following technology development in this area is curious to see who will bring an affordable positioning device to market first. Two things are of interest: does it work?, and and what cost? Any article that fails to answer both questions is really useless. Anyone with some sense of this technology understands that it can be done – it is news only when a device is developed that positions equipment with cm accuracy for less than say 1000 Euro. My question to you is: does it?