Rugged Gumdrop Protection for your iPad

Drumdrop Drop Tech SeriesThere’s a very good chance you’re using an iPad on your farm today. If so, are you concerned about keeping it protected? Here’s an option to consider. The rugged Drop Tech Series case from Gumdrop Cases. Here’s me with one I just got for my iPad mini in orange and blue (Go Gators!). These cases provide maximum protection that includes screen and port protection, shock absorption and drop protection.

So how about a real world ag application. You can look to Precision Planting customers who use iPad to access their FieldView App, which allows them to view real-time planter data as they go through the field and sync to the cloud so other farmers can access the data and monitor the operation. The FieldView app brings the farmer’s field to life on high-resolution maps. Farmers can view spacing and singulation as well as ground contact and row unit weight, making analysis much easier. The Gumdrop cases provided Precision Planting with a case that can withstand weather conditions and protect against any possible damage in the field.

“With the ruggedness of the cases, our farmers are able to take their iPads with them from the tractor and use the device as a crop-scouting tool throughout the season and then put it in the combine to monitor harvest operations in the fall,” said Sean Arians, Product Marketing Manager of Precision Planting.

You can find Gumdrop Cases here. I’m liking mine and will be taking it on the road with me this week to the 2013 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Charlotte, NC.

PrecisionAg Award of Excellence Deadline

AwardofExcellencePrecision agriculture products and practices have been enhanced and improved over the past two decades in large part by the work of innovative and driven individuals and organizations. The PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program sheds light on some of the most important people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production.

Please nominate canidates by April 15, 2013.

2013 Awards Of Excellence Nominations Open

Daryl-Starr-Advanced-Ag-SolutionsPrecision agriculture products and practices have been enhanced and improved over the past two decades in large part by the work of innovative and driven individuals and organizations.

The PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program sheds light on some of the most important people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production.

PrecisionAg is now taking nominations for the 2013 Award of Excellence program.

US Precision Farmer Visits Australia

An Idaho farmer recently went Down Under to share his experience in precision agriculture with Aussie producers.

Robert Blair of Kendrick, Idaho was the keynote speaker at the 15th Symposium on Precision Agriculture held at Mildura, Victoria last month.

Blair grows winter and spring wheat, malt barley, lentils, peas, garbanzo beans, lucerne hay and cattle on his operation and he is a well-known promoter of precision farming. In 2009, he received the Precision Farmer of the Year award from the PrecisionAg Institute. Blair is a leading advocate of unmanned air systems for precision agriculture, and holds a precision field day each year to demonstrate how precision pays on his operation.

Read about Blair’s visit to the symposium in the Australian agriculture publication Stock Journal. Announced Today

Today John Deere announced and to learn a little about it I spoke with David Everitt, President, Agriculture and Turf Division. Dave has just announced his retirement from John Deere after a long career with the company. The announcements are being made at the John Deere FarmSight Tech Summit. You can follow tweets using the hashtag, #JDTech.

David says this is the most exciting time to be in agriculture. He says the company has created a “cloud” with infrastructure in 43 countries for information sharing with over 50,000 pieces of equipment already connected. They’re adding about 3,000 pieces of equipment a month. He says it’s all about productivity and managing information and data.

Developed as part of the John Deere FarmSightTM strategy, the MyJohnDeere toolbox gives customers a centralized online portal to access, view, archive and manage a wide variety of business information.

Nathan Greuel, product manager, John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, says users can log into and access key applications such as JDLink which allows them to view real-time information about their farm operations, field locations and important performance data from their equipment. Other applications include AgLogicTM, JDParts, John Deere Financial, Stellar Support and My Equipment.

You can listen to my interview with Dave here: Interview with David Everitt

I’ll have a lot more news from the John Deere FarmSight Tech Summit but we’ll be in the field most of tomorrow and then it’s time to head on back to ZimmComm World Headquarters for a break.

Hi-Tech Wired Magazine Talks Precision Farming

Always good to see high technology magazines talk about precision agriculture that’s happening down on the farm. My favorite hi-tech pub, Wired, just posted a nice story on their website: “Self-Steered Tractors and UAVs: Future Farming Is (Finally) Now.” A lot of the story was based on Idaho grower Robert Blair, who was named PrecisionAg’s 2009 Precision Farmer of the Year.

It talks about the rapid adoption of auto steer due to payback, the big generational shift going on, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to survey crops, yield monitors and maps, variable-rate applications and much more.

It also mentions environmental challenges and talks some about sustainability, handling those topics in a fair manner.

Read it, and pass it along to your town and city friends. The more educating we do with the general public, the better!

Agritechnica Announces Technology Award Winners

Top technology innovation awards were recently announced by an expert commission of the German Agricultural Society that organizes the largest international farm show, Agritechnica. Of the 300 innovations submitted, the committee selected five Gold Medals and 28 innovations for Silver Medals.

Gold Medal winners include forage harvesting auto fill from Claas and New Holland, a Claas interactive combine-setting assistant for different crops and harvest conditions, the world’s first cross-manufacturer (German companies) concepts for ISOBUS-compatible ag machinery to develop a terminal that is similar across machinery brands, and the John Deere Steer-by-Wire steering system that intervenes to improve driving safety and comfort.

Check out all the Gold and Silver Medal winners. This equipment will be on display during the Agritechnica show, November 10-14 in Hanover, Germany. Approximately 2,200 exhibitors from 45 countries will present their products at the show.

Precision Agriculture: Robot-Style

Check out this video from a field robot event at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, courtesy of Epoch Times online.

“We can reduce the amount of chemicals we use by the very precise application and by doing so, we will also reduce emissions and residuals of chemicals on food.”

Putting theory into practice, students and engineers held a Field Robot Event at the Wageningen University campus last month.
They tested small, driveable machines averaging between 50 to 80 centimeters in width and no more than 40 centimeters in height. Cameras, sonar, infrared and GPS sensors helped the machines steer in the right direction

The robots can distinguish between good and bad plants. They are designed to direct a detergent spray on weeds with such high precision that they avoid touching the crop itself.

The Field Robot Event tested the tiny machines’ ability to navigate and detect weeds.

[Professor Eldert Van Henten, Wageningen University]:
“What we see is that currently tractors are already using auto-steering and GPS so in a way we are supporting human labor with technology. The next step might be that the farmer is supervising one or two additional tractors, still having supervision and then further future might be that robots are truly autonomous on the field.”

Precision Farming Advances in Popular Science

Popular Science magazine did a nice job providing readers with a glimpse into the precision agriculture research that is needed to grow twice as much food by 2050. The writer talked about how this challenge is everyone’s problem, but scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution.

Here are the research projects that the magazine chose:
1. Sahara Forest Project — Greenhouses using seawater and solar power to grow cash crops in the desert.
2. Soil sensors — Research at Iowa State University into wireless soil sensors that may help farmers use water, fertilizer and other inputs more efficiently.
3. Improved rice — Researchers hope to turn this staple crop into a super rice that grows faster in warmer and drier climates by transforming its photosynthesis process.
4. Replace fertilizer — Michigan State researchers attempt to replace/reduce commercial fertilizer use with microbes. They are currently field testing microbial cocktails (Bio-Soil Enhancers) that can simultaneously reduce the need for phosphorous and nitrogen, protect plants against pathogens and boost yields in virtually any type of crop.
5. HarvestChoice — The Gates Foundation is funding data compilation of Africa’s agricultural systems and land use to increase yields to feed the growing continent.
6. Satellite soil moisture — NASA and USDA are working to monitor soil moisture levels around the globe to hopefully improve crop forecasting.
7. Robot labor — The challenge of American specialty crop growers finding human labor is increasing difficult. Current research using robots with a variety of sensors will help machines scan for fungus, growth rate, soil moisture, humidity, light levels and more. But cost of such technology is the current challenge.
8. Rebuilding soil — Scientists hope to turn waste into a charcoal that, when applied to degraded unproductive soil, will attract microorganisms to help plants access nutrients, hold more water and lock in carbon. Companies are working on portable machines to produce biochar on-site.
9. Make supercrops — Research is bioenginering the African staple crop cassava root to turn it into the PowerBar of the vegetable world. They’re attempting to increase protein, add vitamins, increase shelf life, add virus resistance and eliminate cyanide-producing toxins in the root.

New USDA Satellite Images of Ag Land

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) just released new satellite images of agricultural land cover for the 2008 crop year.

The images, referred to as the Cropland Data Layer (CDL), identify geospatial crop locations in three U.S. regions: the Mid-Atlantic and, for the first time, the Southwest and Southeast.

The CDL information is a useful tool for projects ranging from monitoring crop rotational patterns, land use change and environmental modeling, to water resource and carbon emission management. Agribusinesses and farmers, as well as government, researchers and academic institutions, use the CDLs to study pesticide risk, epidemiology, transportation, fertilizer usage and potential, market data analysis and carbon dioxide fluxes.

The Mid-Atlantic region is the largest CDL and covers Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The Southwest region CDL includes Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, while the Southeast region CDL is comprised of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

NASS produced the CDLs using satellite images observed at 56 meter (0.775 acre) resolution and collected from the Resourcesat-1 Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS), Landsat Thematic Mapper and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The collection of images was then categorized using on-the-ground information including field location, crop type, land cover, elevation, tree canopy and urban infrastructure.

The entire inventory of CDL products, including metadata and accuracy assessments, is available online at the USDA National Resource Conservation Service’s Geospatial Data Gateway and the NASS Website.

CNN Story On Precision Agriculture Via Twitter

News network CNN talked a little precision farming last week during an interview with western Nebraska farmer Steve Tucker. But the interview focused on what Steve does with his time when his auto steering takes the wheel — he keeps up with friends using Twitter on his smartphone.

Nebraska Corn Kernels blog features a good post on the coverage, with links to the video and story.

He made many good points about farming and agriculture – and noted that many folks don’t know where their food comes from and Twitter and other social media tools are a great way to reach out and tell that story.

Plus, the technology gives him a way to have conversations all day long – with friends thousands of miles away. He also noted that farmers are doing a lot more today with less.

Since his story appeared on CNN, Tucker’s ‘followers’ on Twitter grew from about 470 to 830 – and it’s still growing. (The nearest town has a population of less than 200!)

Precision Agriculture Benefits Presented at United Nations

“Technology has reduced the amount of herbicides and pesticides needed, requiring less energy per bushel produced, thus reducing our carbon footprint.”

That was one of many precision farming efficiency messages delivered by Rob Korff last week at a United Nations food security meeting. Korff, Missouri family farmer and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association Biotechnology Working Group, explained how technology has made corn production more efficient and stabilized yields.

Advances in GPS, and precision agriculture also minimize overlap and over application of inputs, fertilizers and chemicals, reduces fuel usage and saves time.  These practices have helped us produce a more secure, abundant, affordable rood supply with less impact on the environment.

In fact, if you view trend line yield increases since biotechnology has been more widely implemented, you will notice famers have reduced the energy and inputs used in production.  Additionally, only 13 percent of our corn is irrigated and farming practices such as no and minimal till save large amounts of water and soil.  The U.S. relies on rain water for 87 percent of our corn production.  Long term trend lines also project harvesting at 10.74 tons/hectare by 2020 while the 12 year trend line projects 11.5 tons/hectare by 2020 – an increase of 24 million metric tons per year tied to yield enhancing biotech traits.

According to the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy, the use of biotechnology reduced the use of pesticides by 110 million pounds in 2006.

By utilizing these advancements in technology, farmers are able to meet the growing demands of not just the U.S. but the world.  Despite adverse weather conditions last year, the U.S. had a 1.6 billion bushel carryout with ample supply for food, feed and fuel.

I believe biotech has been fully tested and is safe for consumption.  It is allowing farmers to produce a more secure, abundant and affordable food supply.

As education and awareness spread, technology, and more specifically, biotechnology will be the answer to feeding our rapidly expanding world population.

Precision Farming In India

High returns: Collector T. Soundiah inspecting a field of brinjal, raised under precision farming at Mangalam in Tiruchi district. Photo by M. Moorthy, courtesy of The Hindu

High returns: Collector T. Soundiah inspecting a field of brinjal, raised under precision farming at Mangalam in Tiruchi district. Photo by M. Moorthy, courtesy of The Hindu

Part of India’s National Agriculture Development Program (NADP) promotes a precision farming technique that is gaining popularity, according to a recent story in India’s national newspaper, The Hindu.

Over the past two years, precision farming techniques have been promoted in 900 hectares across the district in various crops including sugarcane, maize, brinjal, tomato, onion, tapioca, sunflower and groundnut.

With installation of drip irrigation system and fertigation (for application of soluble fertilizers) units being essential requirements, farmers could avail a 50 per cent subsidy for the equipment. A farmer could avail a maximum subsidy of Rs.65,000 a hectare, including the cent per cent subsidy of Rs.25,000 for soluble fertilizer, said Collector T. Soundiah, after inspecting some of the precision farming fields in the district on Tuesday.

The higher yield achieved through the drip irrigation systems and fertigation, under which the soluble fertilizer was applied through the drip irrigation system, has been an attraction for farmers.

“This is the first time we have taken up cultivation of brinjal and the results has been encouraging so far,” said A. Ramasamy, who along with his brother A. Easwaran, has raised the vegetable in two acres at Mangalam village in the drought-prone Thathaiyengarpet union. Mr. Ramasamy, who has grown two different hybrid varieties, even takes the longer variety to the Salem Uzhavar Sandhai where such brinjals find a better market.

A cluster-based approach was also being promoted under the scheme, so that small farmers in villages could come together to avail the subsidy given under the NADP in clusters of 20 hectares each. Farmers could achieve up to 50 per cent increase in yield by adopting precision farming techniques, according to S. Robert Vincent, Deputy Director of Horticulture.

Responding to the request of some farmers, Mr. Soundiah said the district administration would take steps to get subsidy for installing solar-powered fences around their fields. Farmers could come forward to avail the subsidy for purchase of refrigerated vehicles, under the National Horticulture Mission, for transporting their produce, he said.

Cap And Trade And Precision Farming

The benefits of precision farming to help capture carbon in farm fields is receiving press within the current debate of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act, a.k.a. (HR2454).

While controversy surrounds this bill on several fronts–from lack of offset inclusion for agriculture to larger energy costs being pushed back to consumers–North Dakota farmer and National Farmers Union (NFU) president sees farmer benefits in cap and trade.

In a recent Wichita Eagle story, Johnson thinks farmers should be allowed to sell greenhouse-gas offsets to help pay for input costs that he says will be driven up by proposed climate change legislation.

We want farmers to have an income opportunity out of cap and trade,” said Johnson, whose group has approximately 250,000 members nationally, including about 7,500 in Kansas.

Johnson said farmers will need the additional income because more emission control devices will cause fuel and fertilizer prices to increase, which will push up ag input costs.

But Johnson is concerned about the Waxman-Markey bill, climate change legislation under review by House committees that would establish this country’s first mandatory cap-and-trade regulations.

As the bill stands now, there is no provision for agriculture to sell offsets.

He said it’s important that the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and not the Environmental Protection Agency — regulate ag offsets because the USDA has done the most scientific research on ag greenhouse emissions.

As proposed in the bill, companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year would fall under cap-and-trade regulations. Very large manufacturers and energy companies most often fall into that category.

Johnson said it has been estimated that 30 to 50 percent of the nation’s economy will come from industries that will fall under the cap regulations.

With perhaps the exception of about 30 very large feedlots, agriculture is not part of that group, said Chuck Rice, a Kansas State University soil microbiologist and an expert on cap and trade.

Precision Air Seeding From Raven & Seed Hawk

This fall, a new line of precision application and planter section control will be offered on the Canadian Seed Hawk line of seeders, controlled by Raven’s Viper Pro, thanks to a collaboration by the two companies.

The first of these solutions combines fertilizer and seed section control from Raven with patent-pending seeder technology from Seed Hawk. Known as Sectional Control Technology(TM), this system will virtually eliminate costly seed and fertilizer overlaps automatically for the customer.

“By working together, our two companies can provide seeding solutions faster and more effectively,” says Pat Beaujot, President of Seed Hawk. “We can take advantage of expertise and existing products from both companies and offer better products that deliver significant value to our customers.”

Matt Burkhart, General Manager of Applied Technology Division at Raven Industries, adds, “This new collaboration further demonstrates Raven’s commitment to expand its product line into seeding and planting applications.”

This system will be offered through Seed Hawk dealers starting this fall, and both companies plan to offer more solutions in the future. “With a good working agreement in place, our companies can share ideas freely, which will lead to faster solutions,” Beaujot explains.