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Precision Farming

by Feb 1, 2017Australia, International Perspectives

Precision Farming

Since the wide spread availability of GPS to the agricultural industry companies have been continually inventing new products that allow farmers to increase the efficiency and profitability of their businesses. Innovations like automatic section control, automated vehicle steering systems and variable rate seeding have all proven that there is a return on investment from precision farming.

So what is precision farming?

Precision farming is a farm management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops and soil with the goal of maximising the return on inputs while preserving resources. This means farmers are now managing their crops based on the constraints (soil, nutrients, water, etc.) at a particular point in a field, rather than treating the field as a whole.

To do this effectively we need to be able to record and map crop yield at a particular location, a function that was pioneered by Al Myers, Ag Leader Technology’s owner and founder back in 1992 with the first on-the-go yield monitor. Ag Leader has continued to innovate now offering one of the most complete product line ups in the industry.

So what do I need?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to selecting precision farming equipment. The first is to consider it as a part of a particular piece of farming equipment and take whatever precision farming solution that the iron dealer provides. Common reasoning includes, “The dealer threw it in” or “It is a cleaner installation”, both of which are rarely true. Apart from things never truly being free, this is not an excellent option for most farmers as they often have multiple brands of equipment on their farm, or at least want to be able to change in the future if service quality changes.

The second school suggests selecting precision farming tools that can work across your entire operation, in all seasons and with all colours and brands. Precision farming equipment is selected on its user friendliness, its ability to fit in with existing equipment as well as the new tractor you are considering purchasing.

“Our core company focus is precision farming technology products, producing tools for farmers that give them immediate payback across the many farming activities taken with all different colours of equipment,” states Roger Zielke, Product Manager for Ag Leader, “The advancements to our reputable line of products are a perfect example of that.” True to Ag Leader’s traditional “colour blind” approach most of the products offered by Ag Leader work with any brand of GPS and their retrofit systems are second to none when it comes to integrating with other systems.

Also gaining popularity is the adoption of the standardised communication protocol, ISOBUS. Implements that are built to this standard can then be used on any brand of display that supports Universal Terminal. The latest release from Ag Leader, the InCommand 1200, has split screen functionality that allows the farmer to see both the implement and the field screen simultaneously. Advancements such as ISOBUS will allow farmers to keep their existing GPS and steering systems and still run different coloured implements.

So the next time you are in the market for a new piece of farm machinery, be it a tractor or implement, ask yourself if the salesman is trying to lock you into a system that doesn’t truly reflect what modern precision farming looks like today. Better still ask your local precision farming expert for advice before you visit the salesman – you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars and future proofing your investment!