Davis Real-Time Weather Monitor Wins Award

vantageconnectA real-time remote weather monitor has been recognized at the 2014 Connected World Conference in Chicago. The Vantage Connect, Davis Instruments’ solar-powered weather telematics data logger, was honored for providing real-time weather conditions for precision agriculture and is used by companies such as Finland’s Vapo, to manage harvests, document required weather conditions and share data.

“With the growing need to manage water resources, protect crops from frost and mitigate damage to our environment, we believe that remote weather data is more important than ever.” said Susan Foxall, Marketing Director, Davis Instruments. “Vantage Connect provides real-time information that allows users to respond to environmental conditions when they happen. For companies like Vapo, this translates to right-time harvesting while adhering to Finland’s environmental stewardship requirements.”

Vantage Connect runs on solar power, so it doesn’t require an external power source and uses the cellular network to transmit weather data to the Internet. Users also get real-time alerts for specific weather conditions via text messages and emails. It can also be paired with any of Davis’ integrated sensor suites or special purpose stations to create a remote, location specific, stand-alone weather station.

Davis also won a Connected World award for CarChip ConnectR, Davis’ telematics solution for fleet monitoring.

Climate Corporation Offers Climate Information

Have you ever wanted to be able to see what is happening every day weather-wise on each of your fields? The Climate Corporation was at the National Farm Machinery Show telling farmers about a free tool they have to offer that can do just that. You may recall that Monsanto acquired The Climate Corporation in October and NFMS is one of the first shows since that time where they have been out talking to farmers about their products.

Jeff HamlinThe Climate Corporation monitors 30 million fields in the US Corn Belt. According to Jeff Hamlin growers can sign up for free Climate Basic at www.Climate.com. With this account farmers can locate each of their fields and then will be able to see what growth stage the plants are at, how much rain the field has received, and soil moisture in each of the locations entered. The information can be seen from your computer, phone or tablet.

Farmers can also invest in Climate Pro which is a more advanced system which includes satellite imagery of your crops, nitrogen recommendations, and planting recommendations. These programs can be incorporated with precision planting software or just included in your Climate Basic account.

Listen to my interview with Jeff here: Interview with Jeff Hamlin, The Climate Corporation

Sponsored by John Deere

Conservation Measures to Help California

USDA-LogoAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced USDA is making $20 million available for agricultural water conservation efforts throughout California to combat the effects of drought.

calif-drought“This $20 million will be directed to drought mitigation, focused on improving irrigation efficiency, providing producers resources to stabilize fallow ground and to assist with watering facilities and grazing distribution,” said Vilsack during a press conference Tuesday with Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “We expect this is the first of a number of announcements that will be made this week and in the future to provide assistance.”

“We in California are facing a disaster that has the potential to devastate our economy,” said Costa. “We have not had this dry a time period in all of California’s recorded history, that’s how bad it is.”

Interested landowners and managers have until March 3, 2014 to apply for available funds.USDA media call on California drought

New Collaboration Between Dupont Pioneer & DTN

ZimmCast 426If you’ve thought we need more precise weather information there you’re not alone. Dupont Pioneer and DTN/The Progressive Farmer announced a collaboration today that will address this very subject. The project will not only bring instant weather to customers but also market information and new electronic grain trading capabilities. I just spoke with Dan Uppena, DuPont Pioneer business manager, about the announcement. Dan says there will be more details about the new platform coming out via new announcements in the very near future.

Pioneer customers will be able to opt into an exclusive network of weather stations, including those positioned on growers’ farms, which provide accurate, real-time local information as well as environmental conditions in other regions. Data will seamlessly inform growers about forecasts and Pioneer crop models to help them make more informed management decisions for their farming operation.  In addition, customers will have access to DTN/The Progressive Farmer’s syndicated premium weather and market content to further aid decision-making.   

“At DTN/The Progressive Farmer, our mission has always been to provide the most accurate, timely and actionable information possible to our customers,” said DTN/The Progressive Farmer Vice President of Agriculture Matt Bradford. “We are excited by the opportunity to work with Pioneer to further that mission by rapidly developing a dense network of on-farm DTN/The Progressive Farmer Weather Stations, along with sophisticated decision tools, to increase operational efficiencies and maximize grower profits.”

Pioneer and DTN/The Progressive Farmer also will work together throughout 2014 and beyond to further advance electronic grain trading capabilities that link buyers with sellers for instantaneous commercial exchanges.   The tool works in real time to keep users up-to-the-minute with the highs and lows of today’s rapidly changing grain market.  The benefits include targeted price matches, 24/7 price monitoring, electronic hedging and mobile information on offers and market news with the convenience of trading anytime anywhere.  This effort will combine the cutting-edge technologies developed by DTN/The Progressive Farmer and Farms Technology, a subsidiary of DuPont Pioneer.

You can listen to this week’s program to learn more about the collaboration here in my weekly podcast. Dupont Pioneer - DTN Collaboration

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsor, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong, for their support.

Ag Weather Advisor Keeps Farmers Up to Date

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.27.45 PMThe “polar vortex” seems to be a hot topic the last couple of days and that means farmers have to work extra hard to stay updated on what to expect while they prepare for planting. The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor, prepared by Blue Water Outlook, is a special free member benefit that can help growers stay a step ahead.

“The weather that is occurring this winter are setting the stage for spring and summer growing conditions,” said John Feldt of Blue Water Outlook. “The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor provides valuable insight, analysis and information not easily found elsewhere on the key factors shaping the weather right now and well into the future. This information can help growers make critical weather-related decisions throughout the entire year.”

Subscribers to this free service receive each week the BWO Agriculture Weather Outlook that will help farmers understand how much rain to expect, days in advance. BWO is a 10-minute video briefing discussing precipitation and temperature trends for the up-coming week. Subscribers will also receive a pre and post-event analysis of precipitation events.

Climate Corporation’s Growth by Tracking Weather

nafb-13-29-editedAnother 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.

Listen to my complete interview with Greg here: Interview with Greg Smirin

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Connected Farm Solution Adds RainWave Precipitation Monitoring

RainWave WidgetTrimble 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.

Climate Basic and Climate Pro for 2014

tcc_logo_marcomThe 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 Introduces Field Rainfall Monitoring

farmlogsFarmLogs, 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.

New feature for Optimizer 2.0

optimizer2An 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.

“Do Fungicides Pay in Drought?” Question Answered in 2012

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.

Precision Pays Podcast: Preparing for 2013

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.

Precision Pays Podcast


You can subscribe to the Precision Pays Podcast here.

The Precision Pays Podcast is sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.

Benefits of Long-Range Forecasts

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 Announces SURE Sign up for 2011 Crop Losses

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.

More information can be found on the FSA website.

Mobile Weather from John Deere

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.

You can listen to my interview with Janae here or watch her presentation during the summit below: Interview with Janae Tapper

John Deere FarmSight Tech Summit Photo Album