Another ag based company who attended this year’s Trade Talk at the recent NAFB Convention was the Climate Corporation. They are focused on applying data science to production agriculture and take all the environmental data, weather, soil conditions and current and seasonal projections and apply it to the production agricultural decisions growers make on a daily basis.
Greg Smirin, CEO of The Climate Corporation, sat down with me during the event to talk about some new products they are offering growers and what changes customers might see with the Monsanto acquisition.
“We help protect the grower from things they cannot control with our total weather insurance, crop insurance and we are rolling out for the season Climate Basic and Climate Pro, which helps the farmer make decisions throughout the growing season to boost profitability.”
Climate Basic and Climate Pro will use data science to change agriculture. The basic program is a free web and mobil service and will provide hyper-local weather on each of the fields a grower has. A grower gets projected growth stages, soil moisture tracking, alerts along with scouting and notes. The pro version comes with a fee, but growers get everything the basic provides with an advisor for planting, nitrogen, pest and disease, harvest and in variable rates.
There is no doubt the company provides a service for growers that can increase profitability by over $100 per acre. Recently, the company was acquired by Monsanto. The two companies have found that they are doing the same science based research. The Climate Corporation will continue to operate independently with growers, but they are now able to leverage the research that has come out of Monsanto’s labs.
Trimble announced a new feature for its RainWave precipitation monitoring solution for agriculture. As part of the Connected Farm solution, the new feature adds actual rainfall activity in 10-minute increments plus accumulated rainfall over a 24-hour period. With this comprehensive rainfall information, farmers can have a better understanding of the rainfall intensity, which can be used to make more informed decisions for irrigation and other farming operations.
For example, if RainWave information shows that a large amount of rain fell in a short period of time, much of that rainfall may have run off the field and be unavailable to the crop. In contrast, if the information shows a slow steady rain, farmers may assume that the rainfall has a better chance of being absorbed in the soil and can be available to the crop.
The RainWave solution enables farmers across the U.S. to set up virtual rain gauges by entering GPS coordinates for identified locations in order to receive a rainfall report for those locations. Since on-site rain gauges are not needed, farmers no longer need to monitor dispersed gauges or manually track precipitation. Farmers are able to obtain the RainWave information through their Connected Farm dashboard, a Web portal that provides one centralized location for farmers to view key information impacting their operations.
The Climate Corporation announced the availability of CLIMATE Basic and CLIMATE Pro for the 2014 Crop Year.
CLIMATE Basic is a mobile service that optimizes a farmer’s daily decision making by providing up-to-the-minute, field-level current and future weather, soil, and crop growth stage information. Climate Basic is more powerful than services costing hundreds of dollars per year and is available at climate.com to farmers nationwide at no cost.
CLIMATE Pro is a revolutionary web and mobile service that increases a farmer’s profitability through customized field recommendations that maximize yield and minimize costs. CLIMATE Pro provides recommendations before and during the growing season that dynamically adjust to changing weather-related and other field conditions. Key recommendations offered by CLIMATE Pro include what relative maturity and planting date will optimize yield, where, when, and how much to sidedress nitrogen, what integrated pest management mitigates yield loss, where variable rate application will be beneficial, and what harvest date optimizes dry down costs, grain moisture and yield. Farmers will also have access to up-to-the-minute, field-specific weather, forecasts, and crop conditions as well as farm-level yield projections. CLIMATE Pro for 2014 provides corn farmers with an average increase in profits of over $100 per acre for only $15 per acre and soybean farmers with an average increase in profits of over $50 acre for only $7.50 per acre.
FarmLogs, the leading agricultural tech startup that helps farmers plan, manage and analyze their farms’ operations, announced the addition of Field Rainfall Monitoring to its farm management software. The new feature is accessible from any device with a web browser and gives farmers the ability to view precisely how much rain fell on each field.
“The ability to measure exact rain accumulation at each field is going to save farmers an immense amount of time,” said Jesse Vollmar, CEO and co-founder of FarmLogs. “Driving to the fields to check for rain can be a hassle. With our new Field Rainfall Monitoring feature, there is no longer a need to physically check a field or to monitor rain gauges. We do it automatically.”
The new weather feature accurately and immediately displays field-specific rainfall levels at a glance for the most recent 12 and 24-hour periods, as well as eight years of historical precipitation data. A snapshot view displays the top 3 fields that have received the most rain in the past 12 hours, while detailed charts show users how many inches of rain have accumulated by field for the year, or anytime within the past 8 years. Automatic charts allow users to compare current growing season rainfall levels at each field against previous years and the 5 year average for that field.
An agronomy firm whose smartphone application projects corn yields on a daily basis will launch a new function on the app to increase accuracy and reduce data entry.
The new function from Advanced Ag Solutions LLC, models anticipated irrigation to reduce data entry for farmers and their crop advisors. It is part of the company’s Optimizer 2.0 app, which recently unveiled the ability to download variable rate files to control seed and nitrogen rates within the field.
The app utilizes weather forecasts and soil moisture levels along with crop needs and common practices of area farmers to estimate when the farmer may have turned on or off his irrigation pivot. The software then allows the user to easily edit irrigated rates and timing in cases where estimates of irrigation might be off. Because water is a major component of crop yield the result is a much greater accuracy with very little effort from the user.
Syngenta yield data indicates Quilt Xcel® fungicide helped corn and soybeans in drought-stressed regions across the U.S. better tolerate the 2012 drought.
Quilt Xcel has been shown to reduce stomatal conductance, or the passing of water through the plant stomates, the natural openings in plants that allow exchange of water and gases. This improves a plant’s water use efficiency. As plants regulate water loss more efficiently, soil moisture is conserved and plants are better equipped to tolerate periods of hot, dry weather.
A number of trials this year indicated yield boosts significantly higher than the averages Syngenta promotes for Quilt Xcel, which are 6-8 bu/A in corn when applied at the early V4-V8 timing, 14 bu/A in corn when applied around R1 and 4-8 bu/A in soybeans. The significant yield boosts often seen this year demonstrate a benefit from fungicide applications even in drought conditions. Trials in both Sioux County, Iowa and Trenton, Ky. this year showed corn treated with Quilt Xcel at the early timing out-yielding untreated corn by roughly 31.9 bu/A under severe drought conditions. In a soybean trial under drought conditions in Findlay, Ohio, Quilt Xcel-treated soybeans out-yielded untreated soybeans by 11.6 bu/A.
In a 2011 irrigation study conducted at Kansas State University, fully irrigated untreated corn produced the same yield (214 bu/A) as corn that only received 60 percent irrigation but was treated with Quilt Xcel at the early V4-V8 timing and again at R1.
Similarly, in a 2010 study at the University of Nebraska, corn treated with Quilt Xcel increased yields by 8 and 15 bu/A over untreated checks in plots that were fully irrigated and plots that were 60 percent irrigated, respectively. In addition, the 60 percent irrigated plot saved the grower the expense of 4.8 inches of water per acre as well as costs associated with pumping the water.
Aside from water use efficiency, Quilt Xcel offers other yield-boosting benefits. With Quilt Xcel, plants stay green longer, allowing for more plant growth; corn ears and soybean pods grow bigger and experience extended grain fill; and stronger stalks result in less lodging for a more efficient harvest and less potential for volunteer corn the following season.
Quilt Xcel is a component of the Syngenta water optimization portfolio, along with Agrisure Artesian™ drought-tolerant trait technology. New Syngenta videos outline the benefits of Quilt Xcel in both corn and soybeans.
Part of producing efficiently is also being prepared for the unknowns. As farmers 2012 began – there were hopes of high yields and a bountiful harvest. As the drought set in – the crops started to deteriorate and it became more obvious this would be a year where we would need to expect the unexpected. As we enter a New Year – we again have hopes for a good growing season and high yields.
In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology, Purdue University ag economist Chris Hurt talks about his thoughts on the markets and what growers can expect as we enter in to 2013.
MDA EarthSat Weather and EarthRisk Technologies, a pioneer in the research, analysis and visualization of extreme temperature and weather pattern risks, announced a strategic partnership. Under the partnership, MDA EarthSat Weather will distribute EarthRisk’s cutting-edge weather risk platform to help traders in natural gas, power, and agriculture sectors project extreme weather patterns up to 40 days in advance.
Powering the alliance is EarthRisk’s newly developed TempRisk 4.0 software platform. TempRisk views the atmosphere at both high and low altitudes around the globe for variables ranging from pressure patterns and jet stream position to air temperature and thunderstorm activity. Analysis of these variables against historical weather records dating back more than 60 years results in improved risk assessment for either extreme cold or heat for regions of interest. TempRisk 4.0 has incorporated a new comprehensive empirical forecast model that intelligently combines the most important signals for a specific region and forecast window, significantly improving accuracy over analog methods alone.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency has announced the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will open Oct. 22, 2012.
The SURE program is part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). Under the 2008 Farm Bill, SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and ranchers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011.
“Any eligible producer who suffered losses during the 2011 crop year is encouraged to visit a local FSA office to learn more about the SURE program and how to apply,” said FSA Administrator Juan Garcia.
As of Sept. 30, 2011, the Department’s authority to operate the SURE program expired along with four other, important disaster assistance programs: the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.
Mobile weather sounds like it would be a high priority for farmers today. John Deere unveiled their version of it at the FarmSight Tech Summit. I visited with Janae Tapper, Product Manager in the John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group about the product.
For private and commercial applicators who need precise weather information in order to make proper product application and other weather-related decisions, John Deere introduces John Deere Mobile Weather.
Mobile Weather uses a third-party weather sensor connected to the Application Controller 1120 to display real-time weather information, including wind speed and direction, Delta T, and temperature and relative humidity on the John Deere GreenStar 2 or GreenStar 3 displays. However, only the GreenStar 3 2630 Display is capable of documenting (recording) weather data, which can be transferred to Apex or other third party farm management software for analysis and record keeping.
According to Janae Tapper, product manager with the John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, John Deere Mobile Weather enables operators to make in-cab product application decisions based on location-specific weather data. In addition, operators don’t have to rely on hand-held devices or make multiple stops to manually check and record weather conditions when applying product.
According to SDSU Extension Soils Specialist Ron Gelderman, while surface application of nitrogen fertilizer in late fall and early spring is a typical practice in South Dakota, dry soils this season may be putting that nitrogen in jeopardy.
“With the weather being so very dry, warm and windy, and if we didn’t get that third to a half an inch of precipitation on that urea to move it into the soil and protect it, fields could have experienced some significant loss,” Gelderman said in a radio interview.
Typically, moisture moves the nitrogen down into the soil profile where it is protected from loss, but the lack of moisture may have allowed some of the nitrogen to volatize. Gelderman says a soil test can determine whether the nitrogen is still there, however, he recommends waiting to soil test, and to have the lab analyze the sample for both nitrate and ammonium.
“We can’t assume that it’s all going to be lost. We think there could be significant amounts remaining. Problem is that some of it may still be in the urea form, and not too many labs can test for urea. So, what we’re suggesting is to soil sample later but still in time that we can fertilize these plants and still do some good,” he said.
Gelderman says winter wheat, which is at, or close to jointing, will need a nitrogen application soon if significant loss of the applied urea occurred. Producers have more time before they need to test spring- planted grains and row crops. Gelderman says growers may want to use a urease inhibitor with future surface urea applications to increase the odds of getting some moisture.
California organic produce grower Phil McGrath is monitoring his fields from his smartphone to save water, time and money thanks to ClimateMinder technology.
McGrath, owner of McGrath Family Farms commented, “On our ranch there are several different soil types. One cropping program does not fit all. With ClimateMinder you get very accurate information about the soil moisture content on any block. I’m irrigating less overall. It’s saving me water, time, and money.”
ClimateMinder’s CEO Bulut Ersavas explained, “By monitoring and controlling to measured conditions, ClimateMinder can alert growers in real-time to conditions that threaten their crops, such as extremes in temperature or moisture, and the need to take corrective action.”
ClimateMinder’s monitoring, management and control platform is provided as an internet-based software-as-a-service (SaaS). The system gathers data using an intelligent, fail-safe mesh network of wireless sensors and controllers that can be installed quickly and cost-effectively throughout an entire field, with a recommended density of one station per 20-40 acres.
Ersavas also added, “Our system ensures that growers have the information to optimize the management of their water, nutrient and chemical supplies, lowering costs and increasing yield and profits. And by maintaining this information in ClimateMinder’s professional database, growers are able to better plan, budget, and organize their crops from season to season.
“We work with our growers from installation to training and on-site support to make sure they utilize the system to the fullest extent. We are also constantly innovating and improving the features of the system with the feedback from our clients.”
Water use efficiency is vital for agriculture as our global population continues to grow. To help growers minimize water use while maintaining crop yields, Cermetek offers the new AquaMon Wireless Soil Monitoring Network.
AquaMon allows active monitoring of the soil. Knowledge of soil conditions is essential to achieve high crop yield with less water. Maintaining the optimal level of moisture in the ground permits crops to flourish. Doing so with the minimum amount of water requires real-time data on soil conditions. An AquaMon sensor node can support up to six sensors of any variety including soil moisture content, soil temperature, air temperature, humidity, pH sensors, and nitrate sensors.
In addition to monitoring soil conditions digitally controlled outputs can activate external equipment such as flow valves or nutrient injection equipment. Much as electronic fuel injection permits automobile engines to increase power while reducing fuel consumption and emissions; real-time soil monitoring allows water conservation without impacting crop yield.
The data generated by AquaMon can be viewed in two ways, locally or on-line. Cermetek created Remote Sensor Viewing Platform (RSVP) software to allow the irrigation decision maker to load the field data on his computer and easily view the data patterns. The data can also be uploaded onto our server and be viewed in the same format using a standard browser. Storing the data on-line allows the data to be viewed from anywhere with Internet access and even allows multiple authorized users to view the same data.
AquaMon is expected to be available this spring. The cost of a single sensor node is expected to start at $300 plus the cost of the sensors. Cermetek is actively recruiting Irrigation dealers to resell the AquaMon product line.
Yesterday, I provided my list of the “Best of Precision Pays 2009″ for January through June. Today’s list of stories runs from July through December. And tomorrow, look for the top product-related stories of the year.
I hope you continue to find value in the information provided. And, as always, we appreciate any and all comments from our readers.
Enjoy. And have a fun, safe and happy New Year’s Eve tonight.
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.