Meet Randy Spronk – Precision Pays Profile

It is time for another spotlight in our series of post about farmers utilizing precision agriculture on their farm. Today’s Precision Pays Profile is on Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer and crop farmer. I met up with him while attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk in Kansas City last week. Randy shared his passion for agriculture and how he has embraced new technologies over the years.

“I am in a unique situation, I have two separate fiscal entities. Spronk Brothers is the livestock side. We have a swine farrow-to-finish operation where we have our own feed mill. Ranger Farms is the cropping side. It is a separate limited liability partnership where we farm about 3,000 acres,. planting every spring.”

“I guess I’d call myself an early adopter. I actually was an early integrator of using technology for driving. We have multiple units of RTK for tractors, combines and sprayers. In the last couple of days I have gone back to my yield maps and elevation maps for drainage.”

“On the swine side, our fertilizer comes from livestock manure. We actually use the precision farming on all of our rigs. The RTK satellite and the auto track steering with flow meters.”

Randy is also President-Elect for the National Pork Producers Council, where he will help defend producers rights and freedom to operate.

Listen to my interview with Randy here: Randy Spronk - Minnesota Farmer

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

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New RTK Base Station for Agriculture

Leica Geosystems announced the latest release of the RTK base station for the farming industry, Leica GeoAce. With the accelerating rate of technology adoption within the Agriculture sector and the markets need for high precision positioning, the Leica GeoAce delivers robust hardware coupled with an advanced feature set.

Feature and function capabilities for the Leica GeoAce include multiple positioning modes, open standard formats for further cross compatibility and the ability to import and export data for reference positions and configurations. The built in radio and modem allows the base station to transfer reference data by either the internet or radio. Additionally the internet connectivity provides peace of mind with the ability for remote servicing and over the air software upgrades via Leica Virtual Wrench.

The intuitive design of the Leica GeoAce ensures true portability in the field and can achieve short fix times through superior algorithms from a combination of GPS and GLONASS constellations. The built-in display and keypad supports easy to use functions, quick set up times and configuration processes.

The Leica GeoAce RTK base station is available now at your local Leica Geosystems dealer.

Raven Releases 50+ New Steering Kits in a Year

Raven Industries has released over 50 new steering kits in the last 12 months with the latest evolution of the company’s SmarTrax platform, something we learned quite a bit about at the recent Raven Innovation Summit.

Tim Heins, product manager for steering and guidance, says they have coverage for over 300 different models of machines. “One of the challenges when you’re a company like Raven when you have a lot of different colors that we try to cover is getting kits for a lot of different machines,” he said. “With all that we offer, from planters, to GPS, to field computers, you have to have the steering solution for that – you gotta be able to steer the machine.” Tim says Raven steering and guidance options include SmarTrax, SmarTrax RTK, and SmartSteer.

Listen to my interview with Tim and learn more here: Tim Heins, Raven

The more than 220 Raven distributors and partners from all over the world who attended the summit had the chance to see most of Raven’s precision technology in action during a ride and drive event. Tim took me for a ride in a John Deere 9410R. Check it out below:

Slingshot Adoption is Growing

Slingshot® was officially introduced by Raven at AG CONNECT Expo in January 2010. Just two and a half years later, this innovative use of wireless connectivity over cell phone networks is helping farmers all over the world get cost effective secure access to critical operating data.

“It allows data to move from the tractor to the farm or to the office much more effectively and easily,” Slingshot Sales Specialist Colin Pollock. “A fringe benefit of that is the ability to deliver RTK corrections over it as well, to improve the positional accuracy in the field.”

Colin says adoption of Slingshot continues to grow among both growers and retailers. “Slingshot is really gaining traction this year,” he says, noting that 35 companies have signed on now to develop software for the product. For example, a company can develop a prescription file for a chemical application that can be transmitted immediately to a field computer.

Colin also notes that Slingshot is brand agnostic and is compatible with RTK corrections on competitive products.

Listen to my interview with Colin here: Colin Pollock, Slingshot Sales Specialist


2012 Raven Innovation Summit Photos

Leica Introduces GeoAce, New RTK Base Station

Leica Geosystems announces the new Leica GeoAce RTK base station. The product provides access to Leica Geosystems patented Virtual Wrench™, the Agriculture industry’s first web based remote service, support and diagnostics tool. With the market’s demand for telematics and remote connectivity the Leica GeoAce was developed to support these requirements.

The Leica GeoAce’s compatibility with a large range of RTK and DGPS products allows it to work with existing and new equipment such as, the Leica mojo3D equipped with the Leica mojoXact or the Leica mojoRTK console. Along with the intuitive user interface and the simple menu structure, the RTK base station delivers seamless integration to your new and existing equipment in the field.

The survey quality product was created for the Agriculture market and supports the open format RTCM 3.x standard which is compatible with Leica Geosystems products and third party farming equipment. Additionally the Leica GeoAce supports the closed format CMR and the Leica mojo1 for early generation Leica Geosystems products. The RTK base station transmits these formats through the interchangeable radios including license free 868MHz or a 900MHz. Further support for an external radio is also available or the internal cell modem can be used to transmit reference data over the internet.

Precision Pays: RTK your way

MyWay RTK was launched in the Fall of 2010.  It’s a new RTK system engineered for the specific needs of agriculture – and designed so farmers can work with those most important in making their operation successful.   In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology we take a closer look at a technology neutral solution to help farmers receive their RTK corrections over the internet.  Sid Parks, is the precision agriculture manager for Growmark.  He says neither he nor Growmark has any ownership in MyWay RTK – they just think it’s a “good thing”. 

Precision Pays Podcast

You can subscribe to the Precision Pays Podcast here.

Now Available: Leica mojoXact and product features for the mojo3D and SteerDirect

Leica Geosystems released the Leica mojoXact, the new high accuracy upgrade option for the Leica mojo3D guidance display, as well as further features for the Leica mojo3D and Leica SteerDirect. The new features include an improved look and feel, better product usability, more accuracy options and an increased coverage of Leica SteerDirect vehicle support.

Leica mojoXact
The latest RTK upgrade option for the Leica mojo3D has been designed around accuracy and ease of use. It allows users to install the product in any orientation inside the tractor cab. Integration to the Leica mojo3D and configuration only takes a few minutes. The robust product comes with class leading GNSS and inertial positioning technology for continuous precision and offers additional steering solutions like Leica SteerDirect CAN, Steer Ready Kit (SRK) and Hydraulic for further improvements to accuracy. With a steering update rate at 20Hz, twice as fast as the industry standard, the Leica SteerDirect steering solution enables exceptional steering performance at all speeds.

Leica mojo3D
The guidance display has undertaken improvements to reform the look and feel of the menu and to further increase the usability. Users are now able to save and recall vehicle setups (valid for vehicles, implements and sections) and to replay any saved guidance pattern. Operating the Leica mojo3D with the Leica mojoXact and a hydraulic kit now offers stationary and reverse auto-steer engage for selected vehicle configurations. In addition network DGPS is now available providing an accuracy improvement where a corrected position is required.

Leica SteerDirect
Updates to the Leica SteerDirect hydraulic solution proceed with three more kits covering an additional range of vehicles.

For more information about Leica Geosystems agriculture products visit www.AgGuidance.com.

MyWay Xchange Launched by MyWay RTK

The precision ag arena has certainly been seeing a lot of activity in the development of new online and mobile tools. Here’sa new one from MyWay RTK called MyWay XChange.

Today MyWay RTK LLC officially launched MyWay Xchange, a new online tool that will connect MyWay resellers and customers in real time. MyWay designed the reseller portal to give resellers live information about their customers and base stations within their respective coverage areas, enabling them to ensure their customers’ RTK service is always performing at optimum levels. MyWay Xchange features a real time map that indicates the current or last known position of each customer. Having access to this live information allows resellers to specify a user’s proximity to surrounding base stations, so they can easily diagnose a connection issue in the event a user leaves the coverage area inadvertently. In addition, live streaming from base stations means resellers know at once if a base station ever goes offline.

“In the event a customer ever has a connection issue, the reseller now has the tools to resolve the matter quickly,” said MyWay RTK general manager, Andy Hill. “MyWay Xchange was engineered to not only alert resellers about current problems, but to also help them anticipate possible risks. Essentially, this tool helps minimize the chance a customer ever gets disconnected because of distance or weather problems.”

As MyWay Xchange features live Doppler Radar coverage for the entire United States, resellers can see both active customers and current weather conditions simultaneously on one screen. In the event severe weather conditions limit a user’s RTK service, the reseller can easily diagnose the problem’s source without leaving the office. Resellers can also use the radar coverage to view weather forecasts and warn customers of impending severe weather conditions beforehand.

A mobile version of MyWay Xchange – available at www.mywayxchange.com – has also been developed, providing resellers an easy and effective way to manage subscriptions, mount points, and login credentials while on the go. The mobile site offers benefits to subscribers as well, letting them manage their accounts and create custom profiles right from the field.

“These MyWay mobile tools let you manage your account without having to return to the office or farm during a hectic day,” said Hill. “It’s a convenience that will help MyWay customers and resellers to keep moving while they’re moving.”

Leica mojoXact Introduced

Leica Geosystems announces a new high accuracy upgrade option for the Leica mojo3D guidance display, the Leica mojoXact. The new product provides RTK positioning with the Leica Geosystems patented terrain compensation and various options for a wide range of steer kits to provide greater accuracy.

With the Leica mojoXact, Leica Geosystems introduces another user friendly product for a variety of applications to the farming community. Flexible mounting options allow users to install the product in any orientation inside the tractor cab and via a port expansion cable, it’s integrated to the mojo3D within a few minutes. The robust product comes with class leading GNSS and Inertial positioning technology for continuous precision and offers additional steering solutions like SteerDirect CAN, SRK and Hydraulic for further improve accuracy.

Software for the mojoXact can be updated directly via USB Flash Drive or remotely via Virtual Wrench, by the use of the mojo3D. Virtual Wrench is the integrated web-based support and diagnostic tool to provide superior support remotely at the push of a button.

For more information about Leica Geosystems agriculture products visit www.AgGuidance.com.

MyWay RTK Introduces Andy Hill as GM

MyWay RTK LLC – a precision farming technologies company that specializes in open-technology RTK (Real Time Kinematic) – introduced industry veteran, Andy Hill, as the new General Manager. Hill comes from Premier Technologies, Inc., bringing with him 20 years industry experience in precision farming and agriculture.

With its territory already blanketing the entire state of Illinois and quickly expanding in states like Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, MyWay RTK executives sought a proven industry expert to oversee the company’s continued growth.

As General Manager, Hill’s primary role will be facilitating the expansion of the MyWay RTK territory and working with industry representatives to implement the latest MyWay RTK offerings.

Equipment Technologies Creates OH/IN Network

Equipment TechnologiesThe home of Apache Sprayers is Equipment Technologies, based in Indiana. I spoke with Kevin Covey and Jake Ridenour at the National Farm Machinery Show and learned that they’ve created a Raven Slingshot network over all of Indiana and Ohio!

They said that using the Slingshot technology they’ve deployed base stations to provide overlapping 30 mile RTK coverage areas. This means that a customer with a Slingshot hub in their tractor will be able to receive RTK correction along with a variety of other services. Besides receiving information the customer can then send information back after completing a job. I like the idea that the hubs also include a high speed internet connection too!

You can listen to my interview with Kevin and Jake here: Equipment Technologies Interview

2011 National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Precision Pays coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology