Precision Ag systems are the future of farming, products that allow farmers to focus on other tasks while GPS does the work. Farming used to be done with a horse and a single tine plow. Farmers worked with equipment that placed one seed in the ground at a time. Today, farmers can easily spend $500,000 on just one machine setup. The newest craze is precision farming.
GPS is used as the basis in precision farming. All activities done in the field are georeferenced, meaning they are marked by a geographical point on the earths’ surface. Farmers can choose from different signal levels depending on the accuracy desired. The different signals John Deere uses are SF1, SF2 and RTK. RTK is the most accurate with sub-inch accuracy. With extra equipment to buy, RTK is the most expensive choice. With these different accuracy choices, farmers can tailor them to their needs. The more accurate the signal means more money to be saved.
What is precision farming? With the use of GPS, precision farming equipment allows farmers to monitor how much product they use all in one convenient system. Farmers used to have to visually look and see where they have planted. On the next pass, they would line up as best they can to use as little product as possible. When lines cross, they begin to overplant, using more product than desired. Today, they let GPS do the work. Precision farming offers everything from assistance lining up the machine to more advanced options like putting seeds at precise points on the earth. Customers use displays and GPS globes to monitor what they are doing. The GPS system allows the farmer to physically see where he has planted to help prevent overlap. Precision farming does not just apply to planting. Farmers use it for harvest, to guide their tractor and for spraying.
Guidance systems are used to accurately position machines. With the use of GPS, machines can drive themselves across the field. There are 2 main benefits to this:
· Allows the farmer to focus on other tasks like monitoring what he is planting
· Also tracks the machine on a preset line to prevent overlaps
John Deere uses an Auto Trac System. Farmers can setup an initial guidance line. There are several lines to choose from: straight track, circle track and AB curve just to name a few. After doing the initial setup, the farmer can engage the guidance system and let the tractor do the driving. This will free up the farmer to monitor his equipment and the task all while driving hands free. This is a great option for farmers who multi-task while farming.
Another aspect to precision farming is desktop software. When farmers perform different tasks in the field, this can all be recorded. This data can be saved to a removable drive and then brought to their computer for further research. Agricultural desktop software has many benefits. Farmers can see what product they have put down, and how much of that product. They can bring the Harvest data back to the computer and see what areas did well and which did not. Once they have this information gathered, they can see what needs planted differently and what areas need no attention. Different geographical locations have different soil types and weather conditions. Desktop software gives farmers an edge by allowing them to make smart decisions on how to approach the different circumstances. The desktop software gives farmers an edge over different conditions from year to year which allows for a less wasteful season.
What are some of the benefits to precision farming? The bottom line is money. Using precision farming techniques allows for a more precise planting season which accounts for less waste and more productivity. Not only are they spending less time in the fields, but they are putting fewer seeds in the ground, getting greater yields in the process. One would think that precision farming is best used in larger operations, this is not true. According to the GPS.gov, there are less expensive options for the smaller farms. This allows them to perform the same money saving tasks at a much smaller scale.
We have discussed only a small fraction of the options precision farming offers. Technology is advancing at a pace that exceeds expectations. This is just the beginning of the future of farming. As time progresses, precision farming will allow farmers to save more money and time than ever before.