Ag Leader Wants You to Know About the Value of Data

Ag Leader Tyler AndersonWhy should we care about data I asked Tyler Anderson with Ag Leader during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show. Anderson said we should care about data. So I asked the next logical question, “How do we know if it worked?”.

“We can check to make sure the data worked by reading the information we’ve recorded out in the field in our SMS Advanced Software program,” explained Anderson. “By looking at the maps we can make sure we’re not having any mechanical problems we didn’t see out in the field, but we can also confirm we’re actually getting results from the practices we’re doing.”

This, said Anderson, is what Ag Leader calls “the value of data”. He explained that growers spend all this money on precision technologies and farm equipment but how do you know if it’s actually having an effect? Using Ag Leader’s SMS tools, a grower can start analyzing various elements of the data or even analyze data across the entire operations.

Anderson said the data is also valuable because not only can you look to see what happened during the current year, but also using it to plan for the future.

Learn more about the “value of data” in my interview with Tyler Anderson: The Value of Data

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Ag Leader’s Luke Bunkers on Water Management

Water management. An ongoing issue for growers across the country and around the world. To learn more about some of the big water management issues in agriculture, I turned to Luke Bunkers with Ag Leader who spent some time with me during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Luke Bunkers Ag LeaderToday with input costs and costs of fertilizer and seed being as high as they are when you don’t get the crop planted and a good emerged crop with a good stand to it, you don’t get the max benefits out of the crop that you can, explained Bunkers. He noted that too much water is a big proponent of this as well as not enough water and this is where water management comes in.

One of the solutions, said Bunkers, is adding tile to fields. Ag Leader has some precision ag technology, such as the Intellislop tile plow control system, that can raise the success rate of water management. Ag Leader also has software, such as the SMS Advanced Water Management module, that can help develop a tile plan and then analyze the data at any give moment or over time once the plan has been executed.

“The tile plan gives the grower an idea of what the whole system is going to look like including how many feet of tile, what the discharge of that system is going to be, how much water is that system going to be able to handle so Ag Leader encompasses all sides of water management with these two technologies,” explained Bunkers.

Bunkers stressed that every farm is different and tile systems can be put in during the fall or spring. He is going to be participating in some tile clinics during the next few weeks in North and South Dakota put on by Hefty Brothers.

Listen to my full interview with Luke Bunkers: Ag Leader's Luke Bunkers on Water Management

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Head to the Clouds with Ag Leader’s AgFiniti

The big trend in the data world these days is the “cloud”. The cloud is a way to store your data in a safe, secure place and have access to it anywhere you may be. Ag Leader recently headed to the “clouds” with their new AgFiniti precision technology and to learn more, I spoke with Kaleb Lindquist during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Ag Leader Kaleb LindquistLindquist explained that AgFiniti is a cloud-based solution, or platform, Ag Leader developed to make the growers, dealers and the agribusiness community’s life easier. “It’s designed to interconnect everybody,” said Lindquist, “whether that be the grower to the dealer, the grower to the agribusiness or vice versa.”

So seriously, what is the cloud? Lindquist explained that it is a metaphorical term for a remote server somewhere. Data is uploaded to the cloud, in other words to a remote, secure server so your data is not housed on your physical desktop. The data is safe, secure and backed up regularly (so if your hard drive in your desktop or laptop computer crashes you still have all the data you stored in AgFiniti).

Here is how it works. Using a wiresless hot spot, a grower can take a file from his or her display (both Integra and Versa) while he’s out in the field, upload it to AgFiniti and bam, it’s there. Then the grower can call his agronomist, tell him or her he’s uploaded a file and the agronomist (with the grower’s permission) can instantaneously pull down the file, review it and then give the grower some recommendations. Is there any more instantaneous way to share data other than having the agronomist with you on the farm? Nope.

I’m waxing lyrical because I’m having fun in AgFiniti’s cloud. You will too once you learn more about this precision ag technology.

Listen to my full interview with Kaleb Lindquist: Head to the Clouds with Ag Leader's AgFiniti

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Let Ag Leader’s Compass Guide You

Ag Leader Josh RasmussonAg Leader introduced the Compass display last fall during the Farm Progress Show and in the few months it’s been available, it has seen great success. To learn more about the technology, I spoke with Josh Rasmusson with Ag Leader during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

He explained that the Compass display is their new, high-definition, 7 inch touch screen with a guidance display. He also noted that you can incorporate other Ag Leader precision technologies such as OnTrac2+, GeoSteer or the assisted steering, ParaDyme for your high-end hydraulic system.

Rasmusson told me that nearly 50 percent of farms in the U.S. aren’t using any type of precision technologies but the Compass display is designed for entry-level users – an easy way to ease them into the world of precision ag.

“The Compass display would be a generic lightbar for them to use in a tillage scenario or a spring scenario if they wanted to do coverage mapping,” explained Rasmusson. “There is a built in guidance so they don’t have to use markers, and you can also incorporate the steering into the system.”

In fact, says, Rasmusson, the system is so easy to use a grower can figure it out in around an hour. If not, Ag Leader has 24/7 free technical assistance available.

Listen to my full interview with Josh Rasmusson: Let Ag Leader's Compass Guide You

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Hydraulic Down Force Leads to Up in Production

It’s hard to forget the spring of 2013 when growers had more rain then they could handle. For some they lost crops, for others the seed was planted a bit late. But what if there was a way to improve your changes for a better harvest despite too much soil moisture. Well, there is a way to do just that: Ag Leader’s new Hydraulic Down Force System.

Brett Buehler Ag LeaderTo learn more about how this precision technology works, I spoke with Ag Leader’s Brett Buehler during the 2014 Iowa Power Farming show. As explained by Buehler one of the big issues growers face during planting is that the seed is planted at the proper depth. When the seed is not optimally planted, it can negatively impact yield. While there are technologies on the market to help address this, Buehler said that many of them have limitations that the Hydraulic Down Force System overcomes.

For many growers, last year’s crops were planted in wet conditions. (During planting the soil gets compacted and in essence turns in to cement so the roots can’t grow deep enough to access the water and nutrients they need throughout the growing season). “Last year was the perfect storm. We had a wet planting spring and it got dry during the summer. So the guys who used our Hydraulic Down Force System last year had tremendous yield,” said Buehler.

Planters still come from the factory with springs that growers have to adjust and it is hard to determine what the right adjustment is when field conditions can change in less than 50 feet. So unlike the air bag option that some companies have developed, Ag Leader went with a hydraulic actuator that in essence allows the planter to react nearly instantaneously.

“So instead of taking 30 or 40 seconds to compass the air to get the right amount of downforce,” explained Buehler, “we can react within a second with the hydraulic down force.”

The technology, says Buehler, is excellent for the grower who has varying soil types his field.

Listen to my full interview with Brett Buehler: Hydraulic Down Force Leads to Up in Production

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Ag Leader Proud to Sponsor Iowa Power Farming Show

Ag Leader had a great 2013 and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. I caught up with Mike Olson, Ag Leader North America Sales Manager, who gave me an overview of what 2014 will bring as well as spoke to me about their sponsorship of the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show.

Olson said they have been an event sponsor for the past five plus years and the event in is their backyard (they are located in Ames, Iowa) so Iowa Power Farming is a good show for AgLeader Mike Olson at 2014 Iowa Power Farming Showthem to sponsor. He also noted that it’s become the third largest farm show in the country, is very well run and has been very successful.

“We’re really proud to be a part of it,” said Olson. “We have a lot of our customers who come in and share their experiences and learn about new technologies, and it just a good way to meet our customers and spend time with them.”

During the show Ag Leader held some educational seminars including one focused on “AgFiniti– Ag Leader Technology’s Cloud-Based Platform,” presented by Luke James; “Designing a Tile Drainage System Using Your Precision Ag Data,” presented by Aaron Friedlein; and “Put Your Mind at Ease and Your Seed at Proper Depth with Hydraulic Down Force,” presented by Brett Buehler.

Precision agriculture has really grown over the past few years but Olson said that an estimated 50 percent of farm operations don’t use any precision ag technology. He said because of this there are a lot of great opportunities for people to get started and the technology has gotten a lot easier to use. He said the technology is also less expensive and some of the equipment like tractors and planters are easier to interface with. “So people who aren’t in it yet shouldn’t be scared to get into it,” said Olson.

He noted that another big trend in the industry is the value of data and more operations are beginning to see the value in collecting and analyzing data. In addition, for those farmers who have been using precision technologies, Ag Leader continues to innovate and has launched some great new products including AgFiniti and Ag Leader Hydraulic Down Force.

Listen to my full interview with Mike Olson. Ag Leader Proud to Sponsor Iowa Power Farming Show

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

2014 Iowa Power Farming Show Round-up

Tom Junge 2014 Iowa Power Farming ShowThe 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show is in full swing this week in Des Moines, Iowa and according to Tom Junge, show director nearly 25,000 people are expected to attend the third largest farm show in the United States. The show expands 7 acres and features exhibitors from 29 states and 4 Canadian Provinces; represents 750 companies and more than 1,800 booths. Junge says there is an exhibitor waiting list of more than 100 companies.

Junge said the show has been growing each year for the past six plus years and people are driving from out of state to attend. “People are finding out how good the show is and how many exhibitors we have here and once they talk to their neighbors they seem to come the next year,” said Junge.

The farming show features a plethora of different agriculture products ranging from tractors to skid steers, combines to sprayers, planters to utility vehicles to grain trailers, landscape and turf equipment and outdoor power equipment. In addition, there were companies showcasing their precision ag electronics, management software and ag-related accessories.

Junge said that show also features seminars and workshops and new this year are workshops on covercrops. He said that out east they are doing a lot of this although Iowa may be lagging a bit behind the trend. Due to the interest of this topic, over the three days there will be 45 one-hour sessions on just this topic alone. In addition, Ag Leader hosted some precision ag seminars and Stewart-Peterson gives the attendees updates on the commodities markets.

Listen to my full interview with Tom Junge who gives a great overview of the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show. 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show Round-up

Click here to view the 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show photo album.

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

Genscape Invokes NASA for Corn Crop Forecasting

Using NASA satellite data, Genscape has released an updated October corn yield forecast of 13.3 billion bushels. The company has noted that other analysts, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have wide gaps in their predictions ranging from 13.2 billion bushels of corn produced during the 2013 growing season, to 14.2 billion bushels of corn.

Genscape Landviewer Oct 2013 corn forecastGenscape said a unique combination of spring floods and flash droughts, coupled with an unusually long growing season, have conspired to make this year’s annual corn forecast the most difficult on record. However, the company said through its Landviewer technology that utilizes precision agriculture tools, is able to simplify the complexity of predicting forecasts.

“Given the unusual circumstances around this year’s growing season, we feel our NASA satellite and big data initiatives are even more important,” said Dr. Steffen Mueller, director of spatial grain analytics at Genscape. “We are back to our original prediction of 13.3 billion bushels, and we have the hard data to back it up.”

Genscape said its LandViewer model offers next generation data acquisition techniques, integrates NASA satellite imagery, and the industry’s most unified ground-based crop yield verification – called “ground truthing – coupled with extensive analysis by experienced soil/agricultural scientists, to offer corn crop forecasting.

The company notes that normally at this time of year, the USDA incorporates Farm Service Agency (FSA) lost acreage data; however, this year that analysis has not available to market participants because of the temporary government shutdown. As a result, and because the company is able to incorporate NASA satellite imagery with best-in-the-industry ground truthing data, their latest forecast is the only known model to currently account for lost acreage data.

House Passes ‘Partisan’ Farm Bill

Agricultural groups are discouraged with the passage today of the U.S. House of Representatives’ H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM). The bill slid through with a tight margin of 216 to 208 after more than six hours of debate today and did not include food stamp authorization or nutrition programs, which the House says it will address as separate issues.

Rep ScottHowever, during the debates, several legislators noted that the point of the farm bill is to feed Americans and this bill in fact does not achieve this goal. “What we have here is not a farm bill,” said Rep. David Scott, (D-GA). “You tell me how in the world we can have a farm bill and separate food and nutrition out from it. The American people don’t get that. When you think of farms and you think of agriculture, you mean to tell me it ain’t about food?”

Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation reacted with the statement that the organization looks forward to moving ahead with fundamental farm policy legislation. “While we don’t yet know what the next steps will be, we will be working with both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress to ensure passage of a new five-year farm bill.”

Stallman added, “While we were hopeful the farm bill would not be split, nor permanent law repealed, we will now focus our efforts on working with lawmakers to deliver a farm bill to the president’s desk for his signature by September.”

Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) stood in opposition to the bill – one that he began debates on in 2010. He noted that one reason was the move to split the nutrition and food stamps program from the bill. “It jeopardizes changes of the bill ever becoming law, and I think repealing permanent law all but ensures we’ll never write a farm bill again in this House.”

Collin is not alone in his opposition and pointed out that last week, 532 diverse organizations came out in opposition to the split. Continue reading

IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference A Success

The second annual IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference took place in Altoona, Iowa this week where the precision agriculture industry along with producers came together to discuss how to “connect” all the data that is being developed through precision agriculture.

IDEAg13-kaplanDuring the show, I had a chance to learn more about the conference from Samantha Kaplan who is the marketing manager, events and expos for IDEAg along with several other farm shows. She said the show has grown out of the fact that precision agriculture is no longer an option, but rather a necessity – it’s required to help farmers increase their production and thus increase profits.

This year’s theme was the power of knowledge shared and the first day focused on local precision ag, whereas the second day looked at a more global perspective – how local precision agriculture is affecting and changing agriculture on a global scale.

Kaplan said that one session that has created a huge buzz was Kansas State Professor Kevin Price’s presentation about unmanned ariel technology, or drones. He brought in a couple of samples that he has been building and a drone, weighing less than 5 pounds can cover and analyze acres of farmland in a matter of hours. She said people were amazed.

His was just one speaker of many who provided informative sessions and the dialogue spurred during the event will continue among companies and producers as precision ag evolves. During the next few weeks, Kaplan said all the presentations will be available online.

Listen to my interview with Samantha here: IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference A Success

View the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference photo album.

Syngenta Takes Crop Research to a New Level

Syngenta has unveiled its new crop research facility at the company’s RTP Innovation Center, located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The $72 million, Green Globes Certified, Syngenta New Research LabAdvanced Crop Lab allows company researchers to simulate any agricultural climate and precisely measure plant inputs. This technology will help farmers grow more food with fewer resources. During a grand opening ceremony, During the grand opening, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, growers and many others toured the new plant research facility.

“Our new Advanced Crop Lab allows us to bring together components of all research where we can create environments for multiple crops from multiple regions — simultaneously,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, head of biotechnology for Syngenta. “Individual controls of temperature, light and carbon dioxide levels, as well as humidity control in many growth chambers, provide tailored environments that allow our talented researchers to work on specific grower challenges. In addition to innovative facilities, being in RTP, we have access to some of the greatest scientific minds to help farmers grow more from less.”

The research facility houses 30 climate-controlled growth environments in all-glass greenhouses. Syngenta can simulate conditions from Iowa in one room and from Africa Young Corn at Syngenta Research Labnext door. This flexibility will allow company researchers to focus on developing agricultural traits that optimize crop yields, use resources efficiently and resist various stresses that farmers face every day across the globe.

“Syngenta invests more than $1.25 billion annually to directly focus on solving challenges for farmers. As we consider global food security, the research conducted in our new crop lab will be essential to meet that demand,” said Vern Hawkins, Syngenta North America region director.

Design elements of the new facility include insulated glass walls that provide a virtually shadowless indoor environment, a liquid “fertigation” system to feed and water the plants and an automated roof-washing system.

Farm Groups to MC Farm Bill Now Rally

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president Bob Stallman and National Farmers Union (NFU) president Roger Johnson will be masters of ceremony for the Farm Bill Now rally on September 12 by the Capitol Reflecting Pool The rally is an effort to build public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current one expires at the end of this month. Lawmakers scheduled to speak at the event include Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson and South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem.

Among the organizations taking part in the rally is the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), because president Dennis Slater says 250,000 jobs in the equipment manufacturing industry are at risk if Congress fails to pass new legislation this month.

“The agricultural equipment industry has assisted the farm agriculture community providing the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in the world. This has allowed farmers and ranchers to continue to invest in modern equipment that they need to stay competitive and stay successful throughout the world,” said Slater who explains that without that safety net in the Farm Bill, the uncertainty and lack of protection could force farmers to make many difficult decisions.

“One of those decisions would be to not invest in the latest technology in new equipment, which means they would not be as competitive moving forward. This not only hurts the farmers, it hurts our economy, it hurts the production lines of our manufacturers, which leads to a cost of manufacturing jobs. The ripple effect could really put a damper on our economy, and no one wants that right now during these uncertain times,” added Slater.

Listen to an interview with Dennis here: Dennis Slater interview

Using Long-Term Trends as Planning Guide for 2013

There was a lot of talk during the Farm Progress Show this year about the epic drought and how it was impacting growers across the country. Brent Wilson, DuPont Pioneer technical services manager, was out interacting with growers and when talking with them heard quite often that they just want to put the epic drought of 2012 behind them.

But making a seed selection based on just the past year is not a sound strategy, said Wilson. Rather growers should look at long-term weather trends as a guide for making 2013 growing decisions.

That leads to the question, what should growers be doing to get prepared for 2013? Wilson responded by putting together a list of key things DuPont Pioneer agronomists are doing to help growers prepare for next season. One question that was asked and answered during the press conference was, What impact will the drought have on product positioning for 2013?

A product getting a lot of buzz during the show was Pioneer® brand Optimum® AQUAmax™ products. Wilson said while they were originally developed for the Western corn belt where you see lower yields, the product lineup can also offer top-end yield potential in optimal growing conditions.

Some other issues Wilson brought to the field to think about included understanding maturity issues, knowing what trait packages as far as insect and disease and herbicide resistance are available and learning about the newest genetics that can be incorporated into a growers lineup that will help to increase overall yield potential.

While I have simply posed the questions Wilson suggests asking, he also answered them. To hear more details about the key things growers should consider when planning for the 2013 growing season, listen to the full press conference: Key Tips for 2013 Growing Season.

2012 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the 2012 Farm Progress Show is sponsored by John Deere and AgLeader

Why Broadband & Precision Ag Make Such a Great Couple

A recent post from the Iowa Power Farming Show that featured Ag Leader’s new SMS Mobile Technologies spurred a guest post request from Broadband for America. They asked if I could write a blog about how broadband technology has really changed the way agriculture does business. And for the better I might add. With their permission, I am reprinting the article here. It was originally published under the title “How Broadband & Precision Ag Are Increasing Farmers’ Profits.”

For my mother, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, it was hard to imagine how far technology would advance agriculture in such a short time. For instance, the introduction of broadband would be a welcome surprise for many. It’s hard to fathom living without internet access; however, in the past, those in rural America did not have as much access as those living in urban areas. Fortunately, this is changing. According to Pew Internet, adults living in rural America have witnessed high-speed usage grow from 38% in 2008 to 46% in 2009. Many of these adults are farmers.

With the introduction of broadband also came the introduction of many precision agriculture technologies. For example, Ag Leader’s new SMS Mobile Technology helps farmers gain important information. The technology is designed to run on their handheld Mesa Rugged Notepad and provides a platform for farmers to gather information such as soil tests, scouting records and documentation of test trials. With the help of a wireless broadband network, farmers can instantaneously transfer the data to his SMS desktop software. The data can be combined with previous data and take his crop management to another level – a level that is designed to improve his profitability.

While this technology is still somewhat in its infancy, access to wireless communications has offered possibilities not before thought possible. Precision agriculture is taking full advantage of this technology. Each year, data integration and programs are more effective and easier to use as adoption among growers increases.

According to Tim Murphy, in a 2002 article, “Broadband Connection Highs and Lows Across Rural America“, the census found that half the farms in the country were connected to the internet in some way whether it be via broadband or dial-up. By 2007, the percentage of farms connected rose to 56.5 percent. As precision ag comes of age, I expect to see greater growth in the adoption in broadband in rural America. Why? Because broadband and precision ag, together, are helping to change the face of agriculture in a positive and profitable way.

North American Wheat Algorithm for OptRx Released

Ag Leader Technology officially released the North American Wheat algorithm for OptRx during the Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines, Iowa this week. OptRx is a crop sensor used for mapping, data collection and real-time variable rate nitrogen application.

To learn more about how OptRx worked, I spent some time with Mike Olson, North American Sales Manager for Ag Leader, during the show. He said releasing this crop sensor was the next logical step for them because there is a huge demand in both North America as well as globally for nitrogen for wheat.

Applying the right amount of nitrogen at the right time is very important for wheat so you don’t have issues like lodging, and you get better crop stand. “So if we can monitor crop health as you go through the field and apply nitrogen based on it, we can use nitrogen more wisely across the field and give you a better overall stand,” explained Olson.

Last year, Ag Leader released OptRx crop sensor for corn. Olson said that in the past two years, the Midwest has seen very wet springs and crop variability has been very, very high. This has caused a lot of nitrogen leeching. Growers who used OptRx last year, on average, saw a $25 per acre improvement over not having the crop sensor and using a flat rate application.

Since real-time variable rate nitrogen applications in the field, such as OptRx are pretty new technologies, I asked Olson what the three most common questions were from growers, He said, “What’s the technology? What equipment do I need? and What are the benefits?” You can get detailed answers to these questions in the video below.

The 2011 season is fast approaching so now is the time to purchase your technology. Olson said that both the OptRx crop sensor for wheat and corn are now available and the has team members standing by to give growers the 411 on the technologies. In addition, his team members can help them get set up and ready to go so when the window of opportunity is available to apply nitrogen, they’re ready to go.

For more information on OptRx for wheat and corn, visit

Miss the show? Check it out in our Iowa Power Farming Show flickr photo album.

Precision Pays coverage of the Iowa Power Farming Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.