New SMS Software From Ag Leader Technology

Jess Ahrens - Ag Leader TechnologyWhen you visit a farm show the first question I hear asked is, “What’s new?” In the Ag Leader Technology exhibit at the Farm Progress Show Jess Ahrens answered that by telling me about the latest version of their SMS software. She says they’ve just released Version 9.5 which supports more monitor types including the Hemishpere and AutoFarm GPS displays.

Jess says that this allows more customers to read data into the SMS software and then make better harvest decisions. She says it’s really important for farmers to not only collect the data but pull it into a system like the SMS software so they have the information they need to maximize their yields.

Training in how to use the software is important and Jess says Ag Leader Technology offers support and training sessions around the country that growers can participate in.

You can listen to my interview with Jess below:

Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Deere Adds New AutoTrac Guidance Products

John Deere’s machine guidance portfolio expands by two products, which can also be used on select non-John Deere platforms.

New AutoTrac Controller expands its AutoTrac SF1, SF2 and RTK compatibility on more vehicles such as select Case IH Magnum and MX Series tractors. AutoTrac Controller provides similar performance levels to competitive systems and enhanced performance compared to our current AutoTrac Universal (ATU) system,” says Mark Theuerkauf, factory-marketing manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions.

Combine guidance for older John Deere combines and non-John Deere machines and corn heads is now possible with the new AutoTrac RowSense Universal. Theuerkauf says this unique guidance system expands on our current offering of AutoTrac RowSense as it similarly utilizes both GPS-based and mechanical-feeler data to accurately guide the combine on the corn row; however it now supports a more universal appeal. This system reduces operator fatigue and allows operators to more efficiently harvest downed corn or harvest in curve pass conditions while it helps the machine operate at peak efficiency throughout the day.

“For customers who grow corn and operate the AutoTrac Universal Steering Kit on John Deere and non-John Deere combines – this is the system you most definitely want. And, if you harvest corn in varying crop conditions, or on varying terrain, AutoTrac RowSense Universal has shown to boost productivity. Plus, you get a higher return on your investment by being able to utilize AutoTrac throughout the growing season,” explains Theuerkauf.

Trimble Expands Capabilities Of FmX Display

Trimble‘s AgGPS FmX integrated display version 2.0 has added control of it’s mid-range, more cost-effective options, such as TrueGuide, EZ-Steer and LB25 detachable lightbar.

Priced from US$5,995 MSRP, the FmX is a multi-function, touch screen controller with built-in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers to address specific farmer needs in machine guidance, including control of the tractor and the implement behind the tractor. The FmX integrated display version 2.0 adds functionality for use with the new AgGPS TrueGuide(TM) implement guidance system, the EZ-Steer assisted steering system and the LB25 lightbar.

AgGPS TrueGuide Implement Guidance System

The new TrueGuide system allows a tractor, equipped with Trimble Autopilot(TM) and an FmX display, to pull an implement along a more accurate line without additional steering hardware. TrueGuide measures the position of the implement relative to the AB line, a guidance path that is generated for the equipment to follow through the field, and moves the tractor left or right to guide the implement to the line. Applications for TrueGuide include tongue-pulled implements such as large planters, tillage, strip till rigs, grain drills, or any implement pulled by a single hitch-point on the tractor.

On average, an implement without guidance moves +/-12 inches on flat ground and on slopes as much as 3 feet downhill, resulting in overlap and wide guess rows even when the tractor is accurate. Adding TrueGuide to the Autopilot significantly improves implement position. For example, on flat ground 8 inch drift can be reduced to better than 3 inches and on slopes 3 foot drifts can be reduced to 8 inches or better. Adding TrueGuide to the FmX costs US$750 MSRP for an unlock code and US$395 MSRP for the cable kit. The activation of the second receiver in the FmX would also be required.

EZ-Steer for the FmX Integrated Display

Trimble’s assisted steering system is commonly used by farmers with the EZ-Guide 250 and EZ-Guide 500 lightbar guidance systems. The easy-to-install EZ-Steer wheel-mounted device is now available for the FmX as a choice for farmers who do not require the high accuracy of the Autopilot system, but still want assisted steering with increased functionality, variable rate capabilities and a larger touch screen display offered by the FmX. The EZ-Steer kit sells for US$3,695 MSRP.

LB25 Detachable Lightbar

The detachable LB25 lightbar is 6.5 inches long–small enough to place anywhere in the cab without obstructing the view–and can be used to help monitor implement alignment. The kit sells for US$350 MSRP and comes complete with lightbar, cables, brackets, hardware and instructions.

“TrueGuide, EZ-Steer and the LB25 augment the FmX with additional mid-range, cost-effective options as part of our ‘good, better, best’ product philosophy, allowing farmers to choose the right level of accuracy for their particular farming needs,” said Erik Arvesen, vice president and general manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division.


The FmX integrated display version 2.0, TrueGuide implement guidance system, EZ-Steer for the FmX and the LB25 detachable lightbar are available now through Trimble’s Agriculture reseller network. For more information, call 1-800-874-6253 or visit to find a Trimble reseller.

Leica Expands Connectivity To Growing GPS CORS Network

Farmers who have precision guidance equipment and access to the growing CORS (Continuously Operating Reference System) towerless GPS network have a new tool from Leica Geosystems to tap into it.

The Intuicom RTK Bridge allows farm equipment with guidance systems to access real-time RTK network correction without the use of a base station. State-wide CORS and private real-time networks are now available to farmers with a wide range of auto-steer systems.

“This partnership allows our resellers to offer a solution for customers who have already purchased a guidance system but now wish to connect to one of the many CORS networks,” said Trevor Mecham, NAFTA business manager for Leica Ag Solutions.

Because CORS networks work together as a true network rather than a series of individual towers, farmers experience broader, more seamless coverage without the line-of-sight issues associated with existing, single-reference networks.

“We’ve seen the benefits of the RTK Bridge across many industries,” said Tom Foley, Intuicom president. “The advantages in precision agriculture are just beginning to be fully realized.”

Already this year, hundreds of Intuicom RTK bridges have increased farmer productivity with real-time network connections. Under this new partnership, Leica Ag Solution’s authorized resellers will become the premier distributor for the Intuicom RTK Bridge into the agriculture market.

Get A New Holland Rustler

New Holland RustlerNew Holland has introduced a new utility vehicle called The Rustler. Daughter Carly got to take it for a drive which you can watch in the video below.

I spoke with Paul Trella, New Holland Product Manager, who says customers tell him, “It’s about time.” Of course you can get the new vehicles in New Holland blue but you can also customize them in camo or black or probably any color you’d like. I’ve got several photos of them in our photo album.

You can learn more about the new things from New Holland in my interview with Paul:

Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Driving Through Farm Progress Show

While I was driving my golf cart through the Farm Progress Show last week I shot a short video clip so you can see what the crowd was like. You can also get a sense of how nice the weather was. If you’ve never been to a FPS then make plans ahead for next year in Iowa.

Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Use Yield Monitor to Map ACRE Program Yields?

Insights WeeklyIf you signed up for the ACRE program, you know that payments will be issued when two conditions are met for a commodity. Condition one: when actual state revenue falls below the state ACRE guarantee. Condition two: when the actual farm revenue falls below the farm ACRE guarantee.

Yield and moisture map

Yield and moisture map

So, can you use your yield monitor to provide annual acreage and production reports? Currently, no you cannot legally use your yield monitor and GPS-based yield/moisture map as proof of actual farm yield, because USDA-FSA have not recognized this technology as verifiable. Current rules are outlined in this 23-page USDA-FSA Notice DCP-215 document “Production Evidence for the ACRE Program.”

State FSA offices continue to work with Washington on changes to these rules. However, as more farmers provide yield maps—backed up with verifiable scale tickets to match that field—perhaps the FSA will begin to understand the validity of this technology.

To be eligible for ACRE payments, owners, operators, landlords, tenants, or sharecroppers must:
• have base acres on the farm;
• share in the risk of producing a crop on base acres on a farm enrolled in ACRE;
• annually report the use of the farm’s cropland acreage and submit production reports;
• comply with conservation and wetland protection requirements on all of their land;
• comply with planting flexibility requirements;
• use the base acres for agricultural or related activities; and
• protect all base acres from erosion, including providing sufficient cover as determined necessary by the county FSA committee, and control weeds.

Links to more information:

Official USDA-FSA Production Evidence document for ACRE Program (June 2009)
Check out AgWeb discussion board comments on ACRE program.
Texas A&M ACRE Info Page
ACRE Backgrounder
ACRE Will Likely Pay More Than the Traditional Alternative for Receiving Farm Commodity Payments, University of Illinois
Understanding ACRE: Its Revenue Guarantee, Ohio State University
Iowa State University ACRE Resources

Is COOL For Fuel Cool?

General Wesley ClarkMany of you corn growers using precision technology are very aware of the challenges we’ve had in the ethanol business, especially battling groups with an agenda to distort facts and misinform the public. Growth Energy is a group that was formed to battle that problem on Capitol Hill.

Here at the Farm Progress Show, Gen. Wesley Clark, Growth Energy, announced a new initiative. The organization is calling for country of origin labeling for fuel. I would call that the “COOL for fuel” initiative! Hey, we do it with food, why not fuel?

General Wesley Clark, Co-Chairman of Growth Energy, today called on the United States Congress and the White House to take action to dramatically enhance the market transparency of the nation’s fuel supply by requiring a national standard of country of origin labeling (COOL) for fuel.

The Label My Fuel initiative would create a COOL standard similar to requirements already in place for common consumer items, including apples, beef, cars and coffee. The goal is to help create consumer awareness of the costs and national security implications of the nation’s addiction to foreign oil.

Clark also unveiled Growth Energy’s, which showcases the costs of American dependence on foreign oil, and serves to rally grassroots support for Congressional action on COOL for fuel legislation.

So what do you think about this initiative? Good idea?

You can listen to the press conference here: fps-09-growth-press.mp3

Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Argentina Farmers Adopting Precision Farming

Ag Leader Technology BlimpIt’s easy to find Ag Leader Technology at the Farm Progress Show. Just look up and when you see the Ag Leader Blimp, you’re there. I have a number of photos from their exhibit in my online photo album.

While I visited the exhibit I got to speak to a couple of our international visitors from Argentina, Matias Abadie and Axel Von Martini. They are standing in the photo. Axel does research and brought a group of 72 farmers to the U.S. and their tour ends here at the show. Matias works as an Ag Leader dealer in Argentina.

International Visitors to Farm Progress ShowBoth of them echo what we’re seeing here at home and that is growing adoption of precision technology and for many of the same reasons as their American counterparts (reduce input costs for example). In fact, they make a point that we’re living in a global market so farmers around the world are sharing similar challenges.

They also make it clear that information is much more accessible than it used to be and the internet has really helped with that. I’ll bet they visit Precision Pays!

You can listen to my interview with them here: fps-09-alt-argentina.mp3

Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Farm Progress Show Record Crowds

Farm Progress ShowIt sounds like we’ve got a record breaking Farm Progress Show and to learn more about how it’s going I spoke with Jeff Lapin, President, Farm Progress Companies.

He says that opening day was record attendance and the streets have been full. Exhibitor feedback has been great. And of course this has to be some of the nicest weather we’ve had at a show in some time. Having permanent sites which have been improved so much with paved streets and exhibitors who have invested a lot in their exhibit areas also helps make for a unique and enjoyable atmosphere for attendees.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here: fps-09-fps.mp3

If you would like to see photos from the show please check out our Farm Progress Show Photo Album. I visited with our sponsor, Ag Leader Technology, and have several interviews to post for you in coming days. We should also have some video of the precision field demonstrations as well. So there’s more to come!

Precision Pays coverage of the Farm Progress Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

Hemisphere Outback Now Compatible With Ag Leader Software

Farmers using Hemisphere GPS Outback Guidance can now easily move field data into Ag Leader’s SMS Basic and SMS Advanced mapping software solutions.

“We are very pleased to be expanding for our customers the use of the valuable data our systems collect. Ag Leader SMS Basic and SMS Advanced software will now be compatible with Hemisphere GPS Outback Guidance and aerial application products,” said John Bohlke, Hemisphere GPS Director of Product Marketing. “Farmers using our guidance and auto-steering technology can now easily move their field data to their SMS desktop software for increased efficiency and a greater return from every acre. This compatibility extends the value of our products towards agriculture data management solutions.”

“Adding compatibility with Hemisphere GPS data file formats to SMS software is a natural fit given the number of Hemisphere GPS customers across North America who are collecting site specific data,” said Al Myers, President of Ag Leader. “This also reinforces Ag Leader’s strategy on being compatible with a wide variety of equipment brands when it comes to supporting site specific data. With this new compatibility with Hemisphere GPS products, we can bring our combined value to the market place to offer a complete solution to our customers.”

Ag Leader’s SMS Basic and SMS Advanced version 9.5, expected to release in September of 2009, will add support for reading and writing to file formats used by Hemisphere GPS products; including Outback 360, Outback Sts, Outback S3 and the Air M3 system. Data such as coverage maps, as-applied rates, field boundaries, marks, and guidance lines will all be supported.

New Smaller Deere Self-Propelled Sprayer

John Deere adds a new economy-sized, versatile 4630 self-propelled sprayer to it’s 30-Series lineup that is wired to add valuable precision farming tools.

The new 4630 Sprayer is ideal for cotton farmers who want a low-cost, comfortable, and productive machine that’s simple to operate. It’s also ideal for corn, soybean, or small-grain producers that want a productive yet comfortable machine with advanced options. The 4630 Sprayer replaces John Deere’s discontinued 6700 Sprayer.

“When they order a 4630 Sprayer, customers can choose between a narrow 72- to 88-inch, or wide 90- to 120-inch axle configuration. In areas where corn or soybeans are planted on traditional 30-inch rows, the sprayer’s wide axle configuration allows it to straddle three or four rows providing ultimate stability for the operator. In cotton country, the narrow configuration gives the sprayer the ability to straddle two 36-, 38-, or 40-inch rows that allow cotton producers to stay on hard centers. This axle flexibility allows the 4630 to fit in most crop applications in North America and around the world. Plus, its C-channel frame and air-ride, four-link suspended axle provide an exceptionally smooth ride that lets you spray at speeds up to 17 mph,” says Nick Weinrich John Deere product manager.

“The GreenStar™ AutoTrac™-Ready CommandView™ cab surrounds operators with industry-leading visibility, exceptional productivity and convenience that leads to best-in-class operator comfort,” says Weinrich.

Operators pilot the sprayer with a single hydro lever that moves with the ComfortCommand™ seat. John Deere’s AutoTrac-Ready system provides the necessary wiring harnesses to run GreenStar guidance and field documentation applications. Customers can add a StarFire™ global positioning receiver and use it in conjunction with the standard GreenStar 2 1800 Display or optional GS2 2600 Display to run guidance applications such as AutoTrac™ and Swath Control Pro™. The GS2 2600 Display enables operators to create as-applied maps, and to utilize documentation features found in larger John Deere 4730, 4830, and 4930 Sprayers.

The 4630 Sprayer is available with a 60-/80-foot boom that enables operators to spray at either a 60-foot width with the outer booms folded in, or at 80-feet with the booms fully extended. And, there are three tire size options to choose from that include 320, 380, and 420 sizes, so customers can better match their crop and application needs.

Each 4630 Sprayer is powered by a 165-horsepower John Deere PowerTech™ 6.8L, turbocharged diesel engine that’s Tier III emissions compliant. A 70-gallon fuel tank provides up to 16 hours of operating time between refueling.

“The 4630 Sprayer comes equipped with features similar to John Deere’s larger sprayer models, including a 4-wheel hydrostatic transmission that’s matched to the John Deere SprayStar™ spray-rate control system that allows for accurate, variable-rate spraying at speeds up to 15 mph. A 50/50 weight split provides optimal balance for traction control and flotation. Customers may also consider adding traction control and auto air spring leveling suspension system to personalize the sprayer so it fits perfectly into their operation,” explains Weinrich.

For more details you can visit with your local John Deere dealer, or go online and visit the company’s Web site at