Precision Point Blog

Ag Leader

Nov, 08 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

Linking Additional Data into SMS

corn lodging

As harvest wraps up and you start to read in your yield data, you might also take some time to record some of the other things that you saw while you were out in the field.  This year I've seen several soybean fields with SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome), corn fields that lacked nitrogen, fields that had been flooded, and even a few that had some lodging due to winds that we had last week.  Whatever the case may be for your particular farm, you have the ability to add additional documentation in SMS about these areas for future reference.

SMS has a feature called Linked Items where you can bring in other files, such as photos, PDF files and word documents, or even link websites and tie them to any item in the Management Tree.  For those of you who agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, this is your chance to save them in SMS for future reference. These can help you remember specific details about an area of a field during planning, crop scouting or harvest operations, view what different pests look like, or show damage due to too much rain when crop scouting.  Additional ideas might include:

  • Bringing in Ag Leader Smart Reports™.
  • Bringing in electronic product labels for each chemical that was applied.
  • Linking different websites for commonly used agronomic knowledge, such as fertility recommendations from universities to the Soil Sampling operation.
  • Link growing season related documents to the individual years.

Scouting Report_new

To use the Linked Items feature, right-click on the appropriate level in the Management Tree that you want to link an item to; on the list that appears choose Edit Item.  In the dialog box that appears, choose the Linked Items tab.  There will be two categories that you can link information to.  Linked Image Files is used to link in different pictures that were taken during the year.  These images can then be referenced in your custom print layouts.  The Linked Files section can be used to reference all other items (i.e. PDF, word documents, websites, etc.*).

Edit Item

Once you have tied information to different layers, you can view that information by selecting the appropriate item in the Management Tree, and on the Summary Tab selecting the Linked Items sub-tab.

Summary Tab

Use your own creativity when linking data, as there are many additional ways to use this feature.  Have fun documenting!

*PDF Files, images, text files and webpages will open in SMS, but other file types will require the software to be installed on that computer to open it.

Ag Leader

Nov, 05 2010 - by Ag Leader

Tech Support Tips for Post-Harvest Application

As harvest season comes to an end, many growers are ready to move into fall application of fertilizer and anhydrous. Your precision ag equipment plays an important role in fall application, and making sure you have everything prepared can help make your fall application go smoothly. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready to start your fall application.

Check Ag Leader’s website for the latest versions of firmware to update your displays and modules. Firmware versions can operate differently, and having the latest firmware ensures you have any new changes or features. This will also help technicians better understand how your system is operating should you need to call tech support.

Add new Farms, Fields, Operators, Equipment or Products to the display before heading to the field. You can either type this information directly into the display that you will be using, or you can create a Management Setup File (.msf) through your SMS software program. This is a great way to set up multiple displays that will be used within the same farm.  Having this information loaded into the display before you go to the field will save you valuable time.

Load field boundaries into your display before going into the field. This will also save you time and confusion. If you are using an Ag Leader® Integra display, EDGE or InSight, it is strongly encouraged to have field boundaries installed. Field boundaries keep your display “focused” on the area in which you are working, and help avoid “flyer points” that will make your display zoom out so you can no longer see your coverage map.


How to calculate CFR.

Calculate CFR for granular spreader applications. Be sure to calculate your CFR values for spreader applicators. This value should be calculated for each new product that is applied. Once the CFR values have been calculated, they are saved under the product name and bin number. Below is an example of how to calculate CFR (FGO= Feed Gate Opening).

Set up Anhydrous application configurations. DirectCommand Liquid Configurations for anhydrous applications should be setup according to your applicator. Single and multiple valve setups require different values for some of the Controller Settings. Refer to your application checklist to ensure that settings are correct before heading to the field.

prescription map

Create prescription files. Prescription files are also a good way to save time when headed to the field. By setting up prescription files before you go to the field, you can ensure that the desired application rate is achieved, no matter who is operating the machine. SMS software is a great way to create prescription files for both DirectCommand Liquid & Granular applications.

Your time is valuable as you work to complete your fall application. By following these tips, you can not only save time, but also save yourself a call to your dealer or Tech Support by preventing common errors. Good luck with your fall application!

Ag Leader

Nov, 03 2010 - by Paul Rose

International Perspective: Farming Operations in Poland

Typical field view in Lublin region of Poland.

One of my recent trips took me to Poland to meet our distributor Kamil Szymanczak, who owns the company KAM-ROL (, located near Warsaw. I spent very little time in the city but instead headed southeast to the Lublin region. On the way through here, we met with another dealer, Henry Pawelec, who also sells Ag Leader products through his company PAWROL (, and he covers the eastern and southern parts of Poland. Both companies’ core business is soil sampling, and between them they cover some 30-40,000ha (75 – 100,000ac) of soil sampling each year.

It is on the back of this that precision farming business started, and more farmers now want to spread fertiliser using VRT. Whilst it is fair to say that the majority of customers in Poland still apply fertiliser flat rate, there is an increasing number that are now employing VRT and can see the cost benefits involved. There are approximately 1.6m farms in Poland, but a farm is classed as anything over 1ha (2.47ac).

Large farms such as the ones I visited are far fewer at the moment, but undoubtedly will increase in numbers as smaller farms merge to become larger, more economical units. The first farm I visited was “BiStar” Liwcze Farm and covered 550ha (1360ac), growing Oil Seed Rape, Sugar Beet, Wheat, Maize and Barley. Yield for all crops except barley have been good this year and are well above the statistical average for the country, though it has to be noted that they would be considered average for farmers that employ precision farming techniques. After speaking to the farm manager, it was clear that he is a strong advocate of precision farming as well as modern agronomics.

Sugar beets harvested and awaiting collection.

The second farm I visited, ”RSP Hopkie”, I found rather interesting. It was started in 1975 by 10 farmers who farmed 100ha (247ac) and now it is 1000ha (2470ac), employing several people in the area. It was also a very diverse farm, growing ‘normal’ small grains such as wheat and oil seed rape, but also onions and carrots. On top of this they also had a 100 cow dairy herd. Whilst they have been soil sampling for a number of years, 2010 was the first year they have used VRA. Early indications are positive and they are happy with the results and equipment so far.

Trailers loaded with onions.

One of the other farms I visited was somewhat larger than the previous ones – 2000ha (4940ac). Whilst they do not currently use VRA, they have certainly benefitted from soil sampling. Most of the farm has very high K levels and therefore none is applied, and even the P levels are medium to high. Mg levels were the main issue on this farm, but this is more expensive to correct and can only be done over a period of time. Another interesting fact about this farm was that it appeared to me to be unusual in the fact that they used min till for most of their crop establishment, rather than the traditional cultivation methods still used by a lot of farms. They also had a 450 head dairy herd, which was certainly very large for the area.

Typical cultivation method after maize (corn).

Unusual white Valtra with 5 furrow reversible plough.

During the second day there, I visited farms closer to Warsaw that ranged from about 300ha to 1000ha (741-2470ac). Whilst each farm was different in its own right, there was one common thread between them all: growing potatoes under contract for Frito Lay. It was clear that Frito Lay is a large source of income for these farmers and a welcome one at that. But Frito Lay does have stringent quality standards, so these farmers have to produce a high quality commodity for them to be accepted. Overall I had a great time in Poland and I would like to thank all the farmers I visited for their time and patience in answering my questions.

Ag Leader

Nov, 01 2010 - by Ag Leader

The Ag Leader® Integra Display Gains Virtual Terminal Capabilities

Today, Ag Leader Technology, Inc., a leader in the development of precision farming solutions, announced the latest functionality added to the Ag Leader® Integra display – compatibility with the ISO 11783 (ISOBUS) Virtual Terminal Standard, available February 2011. This functionality enables support of many ISOBUS compliant implements on the Ag Leader Integra display. “We’re excited to give growers the option to control additional implements with one tool by offering Virtual Terminal capability on the Ag Leader Integra display,” says John Howard, Product Manager. “Virtual Terminal functionality enables the compliant implement’s user interface to be viewed and controlled on the Ag Leader Integra display. The Ag Leader Integra display has been specifically designed so users can easily toggle between the Virtual Terminal run screen and the advanced mapping, guidance, and control functionality supported on the Ag Leader Integra run screen.” Virtual Terminal capability allows the ISOBUS compliant implement’s functions to be controlled on the Ag Leader Integra display. Additional capabilities include interface to ISO compliant blockage or seed tube monitoring systems, as well as operation of ISO compliant sprayers and spreaders.

About Ag Leader Ag Leader Technology, Inc. is a pioneer and recognized technology innovator of precision agriculture hardware and software. Located in Ames, Iowa the company manufactures and markets industry leading precision farming technology designed to help growers make smart, profitable business decisions. Founded in 1992 the company has achieved consistent growth and expansion by providing value-based products that help growers and ag professionals achieve and maintain a successful operation. For more information visit: INTEGRA Virtual Terminal

Ag Leader

Nov, 01 2010 - by Ag Leader

Ag Leader Offers New Hardware Option for SMS™ Mobile

Today, Ag Leader Technology, Inc., a leader in the development of precision farming solutions, introduced a new mobile display compatible with SMS™ Mobile – the Mesa Rugged Notepad™. The waterproof, impact-resistant notepad is built specifically for field use and offers a brilliant, sunlight readable screen.

“This device offers users more than just a PDA; the Mesa is a digital notepad made specifically for field work,” says Director of Software Solutions, Corey Weddle. “The Mesa provides the most flexibility for running SMS Mobile; the large 5.7” screen offers easy operation but doesn’t compromise its portability. In addition, the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 operating system provides a streamlined, more responsive interface that is very finger friendly.”

Additional features of the Mesa include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, as well as a built-in camera and GPS, making it ideal for the in-field operations of SMS Mobile. The Mesa notepad also offers two batteries, allowing for run-time of up to 16 hours. The Mesa will be available for purchase with SMS Mobile from Ag Leader beginning in mid-late November.

About Ag Leader Ag Leader Technology, Inc. is a pioneer and recognized technology innovator of precision agriculture hardware and software. Located in Ames, Iowa the company manufactures and markets industry leading precision farming technology designed to help growers make smart, profitable business decisions. Founded in 1992 the company has achieved consistent growth and expansion by providing value-based products that help growers and ag professionals achieve and maintain a successful operation. For more information visit:

Ag Leader Mesa

Ag Leader

Nov, 01 2010 - by Ag Leader

Ag Leader Announces New GPS 2500 GNSS Receiver

Today, Ag Leader Technology, Inc., a leader in the development of precision farming solutions, introduced its latest GPS offering, the GPS 2500 all-in-one antenna and GNSS receiver. The new GPS 2500 features a dual frequency receiver and the capability to receive WAAS/EGNOS, OmniSTAR XP/HP/VBS and GLONASS satellite signals. The receiver also supports e-Dif for areas where other differential signals aren’t available. “Providing the option for OmniSTAR differential correction makes the GPS 2500 an affordable receiver option that can still provide a high level of accuracy in the field,” says GPS and Guidance Product Manager, Matt Leinen. “The GPS 2500 is also GLONASS capable, giving the receiver more satellites to communicate with and ultimately helping increase run-time in the field.” The GPS 2500 offers a complement to the built-in guidance capabilities of Ag Leader’s EDGE™ and Integra displays and is ideal for the accuracy necessary for precision farming features such as AutoSwath™. Additional features of the GPS 2500 include fast start-up and reacquisition times and magnetic mounting.

About Ag Leader Ag Leader Technology, Inc. is a pioneer and recognized technology innovator of precision agriculture hardware and software. Located in Ames, Iowa the company manufactures and markets industry leading precision farming technology designed to help growers make smart, profitable business decisions. Founded in 1992 the company has achieved consistent growth and expansion by providing value-based products that help growers and ag professionals achieve and maintain a successful operation. For more information visit: 3570

Ag Leader

Oct, 21 2010 - by Aaron Friedlein

Soil Sampling Tips

If your farm is like ours, we have a regular cycle of soil sampling our fields to keep tabs on the soil fertility we are dealing with.  Whether you are grid sampling or zone sampling, it is a good management practice to take regular samples to ensure fields don’t become deficient in essential nutrients and decrease income potential.  And if your farm is like ours, 2009 was a fall that barely lent itself to harvest and some tillage, and the soil sampling was deferred until later when you had more time.  Fast forward to 2010, and on our farm – if things stay on pace – we will be done on the calendar this year before we even got a good start last year. What a difference a year makes! While you are out taking soil samples, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting a quality sample.  Many universities and soil testing labs have guidelines and suggestions on how to take “the proper soil sample.”  Below are a few links that discuss the ways to take a soil sample that will provide the best information for you. Iowa State University - North Dakota State University - In addition, here are a few tips I have come up with from my years of soil sampling that may also be beneficial for you to make the most of the soil test and your time in the field doing it.

  • Many soil probes have a longer probe than the sample you might take.  In my case I try for consistent 6” cores, but my soil testing probe will take up to 10”.   I use a piece of electrical tape to mark the point on the probe that will give me a visual indicator of the proper depth of core to pull.  If the tape starts to pull away, you know you are going too deep too often.
  • Pre-labeled bags – Check with the soil lab you will be sending the samples to and ensure that you have the proper numbering on the samples.  Some will want a Field ID and a Sample ID, and some may just want the Sample ID.    Regardless, it can be worth it to have your bags pre-labeled before you go to the field.  In the event that one of the bags is ripped or misplaced, having a few spares and pen are well worth the time.
  • If you are sampling a determined path for grid samples, re-sampling or zone sampling, you can set up where those points are in desktop software and transfer the data to the device you are using to guide you to the samples in the field.  This way, you don’t need to drive the perimeter and then create the points in the field…  You just power up your field software, load the file and start sampling.
  • Make sure the 4-wheeler has enough gas and your electronic devices (laptop, PDA and GPS) have fully charged batteries! (This is a lesson it only takes once to learn!).
Ag Leader

Oct, 15 2010 - by Paul Rose

International Perspective: The Effects of Russia’s Drought

As you may have heard, Russia suffered a very poor wheat harvest this year due to prolonged droughts in most of its agricultural areas. Eleven of the drought stricken areas saw more than half their sown land destroyed and it affected more than 9million Ha (22m ac) of land overall.  There were also the images on the world news showing the fires and smog-ridden areas of highly populated places such as Moscow. Since then, Russian wheat exports have been banned and this has had the effect of increasing the wheat price throughout the rest of the world, due to the fact that Russia is the third largest exporter of wheat.

Equipment on display at Agrosalon

Last week I was in Moscow attending the Agrosalon exhibition. I had the chance to catch up with our distributor there and find out what has happened since the harvest. I was told that the dry weather has continued and therefore, many farmers have not planted a winter crop as usual. Potatoes have also been harvested and even under irrigation, yields have been half of normal yields (~40t/ha, or ~16t/ac, is normal). They tell me that this year has been very bad for the farmers and for the suppliers of all equipment, including GPS. But they also tell me that more and more farmers are now familiar with the benefits precision farming can bring them in terms of efficiencies and savings, which in recent times, has become all the more important. As for the exhibition itself, it was an improvement on the first one I attended two years ago. Nearly all the ‘big’ players were there, as well as the domestic companies. Attendance seemed to be up which was a surprise as the other large Russian trade show was being held the same week. Precision farming was also featured on almost all OEM stands.

The pictures above show some large equipment on display at Agrosalon in Moscow.

To summarize, it is going to be a turbulent time ahead for farmers in Russia. If weather and yields behave next year then perhaps things can start to get back to normal, but if they suffer a third year of drought and poor yields then it could really test the resolve of many farmers and manufacturers.

Ag Leader

Oct, 13 2010 - by Michael Vos

Harvest Time - Update from SE Iowa

Harvest is progressing nicely here in southeastern Iowa. The bean crop is all but finished and corn harvesting is in full swing. It was a very rainy growing season but the yields are still respectable. Earlier in the season, when crop scouting, it appeared that yields were going to be below the normal county average, but as it turns out the yields have been surprisingly good.


The Ag Leader® Integra display in the combine is again proving to be a very valuable tool. Earlier in the harvest season there was a large moisture difference between hybrids. In order to minimize our drying costs we used the yield monitor moisture readings to find and harvest the drier hybrids. Our maps also showed us the acres of each hybrid which quickly told us the storage that was needed for the drier corn. As in many operations, managing storage bins, tractors, augers and semis is a busy task and having a display that immediately tells us the acres and moisture allows us to maximize storage, be efficient at harvesting, and minimize drying cost. The display is also showing us results that we have been anxiously waiting for all season. Different planting population blocks have shown smaller than expected yield differences while side-dressing nitrogen has shown to impressively boost yield more than expected.

One unexpected use of the Ag Leader Integra display this year was to check the weight from a new grain cart. Yeah, that is worded correctly. I said used the display to check the weight on a new grain cart. Here is how the story unfolded. We are very particular about calibrating our yield monitor, thus during the first week of harvest we accomplished this task and monitored it continuously with our old grain cart. Then the dealer called and said our new grain cart was ready. We asked him if the grain cart scale was calibrated and he said this would be done for us, but I was doubtful. Then when the first load was put into the new grain cart we checked it against the combine display, there was a 20 lbs difference on 58,000 lbs. A day later it worked out that we took corn to a certified scale and checked all the weights again, but for the first day it was nice to be confident when loading semis and filling bins. No matter how you use your yield monitor and combine display during harvest, stay safe and remember to take time for the details.  Those details are what will improve your management in the coming years.

Author's Note:  Michael Vos is in his tenth year at Ag Leader, and as the Software Sales Manager, he works with key domestic and international dealers, and sales representatives promoting the use of software to find answers from precision ag information. He was born and raised on a farm in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Ag Systems Technology and Agronomy minor. Away from work, he operates a 2000 acre and 5000 head hog operation in southeast Iowa.

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