Author Archives: cdemuro

  1. 5 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Conventional Spraying Practices

    Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fertilizer — many inputs are applied through the sprayer. 

    But spraying these chemicals and fertilizer the conventional way can end up costing farmers a lot of money, whether it’s wasted resources, ineffective pest control, or even damage to the crop. The more often you make a pass without precision ag technologies on the sprayer, the more likely you’re making costly errors. 

    We spoke with Scott Shearer, Professor and Chair of the Agricultural Engineering Department at The Ohio State University, and Joe Luck, Associate Professor and Precision Agriculture Engineer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, about why farmers should adopt precision ag for their spraying practices and the benefits you’ll reap in doing so.

    1. You want to reduce your chemical and fertilizer bills.

    One of the most common issues Shearer and Luck see with conventional spraying is overapplication. 

    This happens when the sprayer goes over an area it has already sprayed, resulting in overlaps, or it sprays parts of the field that don’t need application. 

    Growers can use automatic section control to solve this problem, which works by turning off sections of the boom or even individual nozzles when it reaches a boundary or a part of the field already sprayed.

    For a lot of farmers, it can provide a great return on investment (ROI) quickly.

    Ohio State research has shown that farmers can see excess application rates of 12-17%, so Shearer suggests taking 10-15% of your chemical bill and seeing if the savings from that would be greater than the investment in section control. For most farmers he’s worked with, the payback period has been as little as 1 year to 18 months. “That was a pretty common number we see all the time,” Shearer says.

    Luck has also seen growers achieve significant savings from investing in section control. For one farmer in Kentucky he worked with, the $3,000 investment produced $5,000 in savings the first year.

    To reduce input costs even further, you can explore using variable-rate (VRT) or sensor-based technologies.

    Fields don’t have uniform yield potential or even soil types, so for nitrogen application, Shearer says it makes sense to adopt VRT to adjust the rate across the field. Luck adds that since pre-emergence herbicides can require different rates based on soil type, you could variable-rate your herbicide application in fields with variable soils.

    Trimble’s WeedSeeker2 and GreenSeeker take these savings a step further. Using optical sensors to identify weeds or nitrogen variability in the crop, respectively, they help ensure applications are as precise as possible. 

    1. You don’t have perfectly square-shaped fields.

    Most growers can expect to see a good ROI from automatic section control because they have irregularly shaped fields. 

    “If you have perfectly square fields, your savings are not going to be that great,” Luck says.

    “It could be 2-3%. That’s some of the minimum savings we saw [from spraying data collected from growers in Kentucky].”

    But as the field boundaries and obstacles get more complex — such as point rows, angled headlands, or grass waterways that cut through the field — the savings can go up substantially, he says. In the data out of Kentucky, some fields saw savings as high as 30%.

    Automatic section control isn’t the only sprayer technology beneficial for odd-shaped fields. Luck says most farmers don’t realize how much they turn in their fields, and when they turn, the sprayer isn’t applying a consistent rate across the boom.

    Why does this happen? Because the inside of the boom isn’t traveling the same distance as the outside, Shearer explains. 

    “It’s the same elapsed time to cover that inside arc as the outside arc,” he says. “The spray boom on the outside has to go at a much higher velocity to make that turn.”

    With booms only getting wider, Shearer adds the inside of the turn may have 3-4 times the target application rate, while the outside may be as low as 25-30%.

    The precision ag solution to this issue is turn compensation technologies, which use pulse width modulation in the nozzles to adjust the application rate during turns.

    1. You’ve experienced crop damage from your spraying.

    Another reason sprayer overapplication is so costly is that it can have serious consequences to your yield. 

    Soybean injury from herbicide and wheat lodged from excess nitrogen are two common yield-reducing effects Shearer has seen with overapplication.

    But it’s not just cash crops. Shearer has seen growers accidentally spray out their grass waterways, which means they either need to reseed them — an additional expense — or risk soil erosion. 

    While automatic section control can prevent overapplication and spraying outside of the fields, application speed may contribute to these problems. Shearer says that anytime you decelerate in the field, pressure increases in the system, resulting in a higher spray rate. It’s another instance where pulse width modulation nozzles could pay off because they’ll keep the rate consistent.

    But if crop damage occurs because of application drift, you should consider boom height control, which automatically raises and lowers the boom based on the crop’s height.

    “The higher the boom unnecessarily gets from the target, that’s just more drift potential,” says Luck. 

    Shearer adds that boom height control makes a lot of sense for farmers with elevation differences, especially as the width in equipment increases.

    1. You’re not getting effective pest control. 

    Sometimes the problems you see from spraying are the result of underapplication. 

    If you’re experiencing inadequate weed, insect or disease control, it could be a sign that your sprayer boom is too low, resulting in insufficient application coverage.

    “With a flat-fan nozzle, we depend on a 50% overlap,” Shearer says. “If that spraying boom is too close to the crop, you could be getting ineffective control because you’re getting striping in that crop. In other words, we didn’t have the ability for those nozzles to make that flat-fan pattern overlap before they hit the top of the crop canopy.”

    But it might be due to your application speed. Acceleration causes the pressure to drop, Shearer says, so if you see insufficient pest control in areas where you typically speed up, then pulse width modulation nozzles would likely be a good investment.

    1. You already have the components to be more precise with your spraying.

    If you have some level of precision ag, chances are there’s an opportunity to make some of these technologies a reality for minimal investment.

    Shearer worked with about half a dozen farmers in Ohio on adopting section control, and most farmers were only missing a component or two — an investment of around $500.

    “In many cases, it was getting the farmers to export boundaries from their farm management information systems and upload them to the controller,” he says. 

    The payoff for investing in those extra components was well worth it.

    “I don’t think there’s any question about it. Farmers on all scales are going to benefit from it,” says Shearer. 

    “If I walk onto a farm and I don’t see [automatic section control], that’s one of the first things in terms of technological investments I begin talking to the farmer about, because I know they’re going to be better off with that technology than without.”

    If you’re interested in adopting some of these technologies or wondering how you can take your precision ag implementation a step further, we can help. Contact your local Trimble Ag Reseller today.

  2. 7 Ways Small Farms Can Benefit from Precision Ag

    How Smaller Farms Can Benefit from Precision Ag

    Precision ag is often considered a tool that only applies to large, broadacre farms. But the truth is, even farms with less than 500 acres can find opportunities to capitalize on PA tools and technologies.

    We spoke with precision ag experts Wes Porter, University of Georgia Associate Professor, and Bruce Erickson, Agronomy Education Distance and Outreach Director at Purdue University, to discuss how small farms can reap the benefits of precision ag. 

    Gather data for better decision-making

    To get started with precision ag, you need to have an understanding of what you’re trying to change or improve on your farm — which is why the first step for any size operation is to gather and analyze data from every action performed.

    1. Start with the soil.

    Every farmer knows there are parts of their farm that don’t look as good or perform as well, says Erickson, and you can use precision ag tools like remote sensing or site-specific soil sampling to identify the cause of those issues. 

    Porter agrees that one of the first ways small farms can adopt precision ag is to implement a precise soil sampling strategy.

    “You’re going to get better information from grid or zone sampling than you would from one composite sample that represents a whole field,” he says. 

    Grid sampling is the most common option, where you lay a grid on the field and create a composite sample from each of the grids to help capture variability. Porter advises using smaller grids for high-value crops and bigger grids for broadacre crops.

    But if you have additional information about your fields that may correlate to production variabilities, such as yield or soil type data, you can create zones from that information for zone sampling.

    2. Utilize free or low-cost tools to learn more about your fields.

    Another way to gather more data about your fields is to use free or low-cost smartphone and tablet apps, which Porter says most farmers overlook. Scouting, satellite imagery, and weather apps can all help you identify trends across your fields.

    Strategically apply precision ag to solve problems

    Once you’ve gathered enough data about your farm to identify inconsistencies, it’s time to evaluate where it makes sense to implement precision ag to address those issues.

    3. Outsource precision ag tasks.

    One reason small farms often discount precision ag as an option for their operation is the investment it can require. Larger farms can justify the investment because they have more acres to spread out the cost, says Erickson.

    But you don’t have to buy the technology yourself to use it. Erickson suggests hiring out certain precision ag practices such as variable-rate spraying or fertilizer application to your ag retailer, so you can reap the benefits of the technology without having to bear the full cost.

    4. Target certain acres.

    Another option Porter offers is to only apply precision ag to the fields that would benefit the most from it, as this could help cut down on both the financial and time investment required.

    “If we’re talking about your 400-acre farm size or smaller, it’s usually a lot of smaller fields patched around — not one 400-acre field,” he says. “Maybe out of those 400 acres, I’m going only to implement a precision ag strategy on 200 of them and focus on where I’m going to have the largest impact.

    Erickson suggests targeting fields that have more variation in soils or crop responses since those often respond more to variable-rate applications.

    5. Consider crop and input value.

    It’s important to point out here that having a smaller acreage doesn’t mean that you can’t see significant savings from precision ag, especially if you have high-value crops or expensive inputs.

    Erickson explains that historically a lot of precision ag has focused on commodity crops, where often the goal is to be a low-cost producer. The high use in broadacre crops is partially because some of the more commonly used precision ag technologies have been autoguidance and section controllers, he says, which are more about saving input expenses vs. increasing yields.

    “But if you’re producing orchard crops, or vegetables or vineyards, those types of specialty crops, there could be advantages to doing some of the site-specific precision ag, as the value per acre is so much greater,” he says.  “With broadacre crops, the cost savings is a big thing, but with specialty crops, it’s more the overall value you’re providing to the customer.”

    In short: the higher the value of the crop you’re growing, the less acreage you need to justify the investment of precision ag, because even small input savings or improvement in crop quality may go a long way toward ROI. 

    Even if you’re not growing specialty crops, you may be surprised to see just how much you could save on inputs from implementing precision ag. Porter has a colleague at the University of Georgia who installed soil moisture sensors on his small farm and can’t see ever doing irrigation without them.

    “He calculated how much money he’s saving on water and sees it’s paying for those systems within a year,” Porter says.

    6. Look for entry-level options.

    There are plenty of affordable options for small farmers who want to purchase precision ag for their farm. Porter recommends looking at entry-level technologies such as basic guidance systems and rate controllers.

    “A lightbar or cheap retrofitted ‘autosteer’ will help start saving on chemicals and fertilizers, even for farms that are just using a small buggy, because it’s easy to overlap or miss some areas with manual steering,” he says. “You won’t see the same level of efficiency as you would with RTK, but for the size of your farm and investment, it could make a difference.”

    He adds that you can usually move them between vehicles for even greater use.

    Don’t forget about smartphone apps that may only require a time investment. For example, Porter recommends anyone doing irrigation use an app that tracks rainfall so you can create an irrigation schedule based on when you need to irrigate, rather than just doing it a certain number of times.

    7. Don’t discount labor and time savings. 

    Sometimes the value in precision ag can’t be penciled into hard numbers. Reduction in operator fatigue and improved work quality are two such benefits that can be hard to calculate into an ROI but have a very positive impact on farms of any size.

    For instance, older farmers may want to consider autosteer because it makes it easier to continue farming and reduces the need for additional labor, Erickson says.

    “It takes some of the grind out if,” he adds. “It’s not necessarily just pure money all the time.”

    Precision Ag Has a Place

    The one thing Porter doesn’t want small farmers to do is to sell themselves short on how precision ag can help them. 

    “You just have to look at your operation and see where it fits in for you,” he says. “Don’t say, ‘Well, I only farm 400 acres, it’s not worth my time to look at any of this. It might be more worth your time when you’re a smaller farm because the profitability can be even harder without that volume. This may provide you a better opportunity to become more profitable or have best management practices.” 

    If you’d like some guidance on how precision ag can best fit your small farm, contact your local Trimble reseller today.

  3. Trimble Propels Agri-Food Innovation at Virtual World Agri-Tech Summit


    When you think of agtech, you think innovation.

    This innovation spans every facet of the food supply chain, from precisely planting seeds to monitoring how food is purchased in the grocery store. 

    All of these unique pieces are working towards a united goal: to improve the agri-food system for a more productive and sustainable industry.

    Global Innovation

    This month’s virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on September 15-16 brought together top agri-businesses, agri-food companies, technology providers, and investors from around the globe to discuss the future of global agri-food systems. 

    Primary discussion topics of the online event included automation, digital platforms, localized food systems, and more. Overall, the summit provides a platform for leading agribusinesses around the world to collaborate and share pertinent information that will guide the future of the industry.

    Trimble served as a Gold Partner of the event, where over 900 senior global agri-food industry delegates from 54 countries attended. Participants could sit in on live-streamed roundtable discussions, panel sessions, and interactive Q&As with 95 speakers from the world’s leading agribusinesses. 

    Connecting the Physical + Digital

    Trimble Agriculture Vice President and General Manager Jim Chambers served as a key speaker in multiple sessions for the online event. 

    Chambers held two high-profile speaking spots, participating in the panel discussion “Automation and Digitization: Platforms and Business Models That Deliver Value for Farmers” as well as the roundtable discussion and Q&A: “What are the right channel partners to take your digital ag solution to market?”

    Chambers shared his agriculture expertise with top industry representatives and explained how Trimble Agriculture is working diligently to help farmers be more productive, sustainable, and profitable through precision agriculture.

    “At Trimble, we are all about the physical and digital combined, which includes planning, optimizing, and documenting the work that is being done in the field,” said Chambers. 

    Noting the focus on maximizing productivity and profitability for farmers through data, “It also depends on the crop and situation about how much real money can be retained or earned through this.”

    Jim Chambers, Trimble Ag Vice President and General Manager, participates in the virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit on Sept. 15-16. Photo c/o World Agri-Tech.

    A Better Future

    Above all, the event promoted innovation across the ag ecosystem, encouraging robust attendee participation and interactive discussions with industry leaders.

    Additional activities included a virtual exhibition and start-up pitches, as well as the opportunity for participants to connect through 1-1 video meetings, polls, and group chats to exchange ideas and follow up with keynote speakers.

    According to event hosts, this virtual conference “re-confirmed the need for collaboration to achieve success in developing more efficient, resilient, and sustainable farming systems.”

    Together, the agriculture industry continues to strive for a stronger and more resilient future – and Trimble Agriculture is deeply committed and proud to be a part of it.

    For more information, please visit worldagritechinnovation.com.

     

  4. Trimble Select Introduces Sencrop for Ag Weather Data Sensing

    A great precision ag solutions suite needs great data to work with.

    That’s why French ag-tech startup Sencrop was chosen as the newest Trimble Select Partner. Sencrop develops and implements connected, accessible, and collaborative solutions based on agro-environmental data collection in order to make precision agricultural monitoring technology available to everyone.

    Ag-Weather Solutions

    A leader in ag-weather solutions connected to farm plots, Sencrop is the only connected ag-weather station solution available through Trimble in Europe. Under the Trimble Select Partner Program, Sencrop’s connected ag-weather station is available to customers through the Trimble and Vantage™ distribution networks in Europe as part of Trimble’s marketplace dedicated to precision agriculture.

    It’s important for farmers to have real-time weather data from their fields when performing tasks such as plowing, planting, or harvesting. Sencrop strives to develop more accurate, efficient, and environmentally responsible agricultural techniques and practices for widespread implementation.

    Trimble Select Partnership

    Sencrop is thrilled to collaborate with Trimble and have the support of a major player on the international ag-tech scene.

    “We are enthusiastic to have been chosen as a Trimble Select Partner and to be associated with this strong brand, well-known in the agricultural sector. The establishment of a commercial relationship with Trimble’s distribution network in Europe contributes to our goal to offer an integrated digital service to farmers and bring them innovative solutions, allowing for good decision-making regarding interventions in their plots, in alignment with Trimble’s product line. To take part in the Trimble Select program is an ideal distribution vehicle for Sencrop,” said co-founders Martin Ducroquet and Michael Bruniaux.

    Partnering for the Future

    This relationship will allow farmers across the globe the opportunity to increase the precision of interventions on their plots by sharing weather data among them. By collaborating with Trimble, a leader in the global ag-tech industry, Sencrop intends to increase its network of agro-weather stations and to expand its collaborative network.

    The companies are excited to introduce this ag weather-data technology to Trimble dealers and customers worldwide. Trimble has been at the forefront of the agriculture business for many years and recognizes Sencrop as a technology innovator in agricultural weather products.

    This announcement occurs five months after the Sencrop buy-out of sensor specialist Visio-Green, which allowed for Sencrop to strengthen its position as a leader in connected agricultural weather-data.

    First Stage: Europe

    As a Trimble Select Partner, Sencrop is available in its Trimble Dealer and Vantage networks. Distribution is primarily focused on the European market.

    “We are excited to have Sencrop join our growing network of Trimble Select Partners,” said Kevin Barkow, Global Manager of Strategic Projects for Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “As a key player in the European market of connected ag weather-data, Sencrop has the optimum technology to sustain precise, efficient, and eco-friendly agriculture. This aligns with Trimble’s mission of providing farmers with precision ag technology that helps reduce cost, improve yields, and is environmentally conscious.”

    “Our Trimble Vantage and Trimble Dealer networks represent some of the world’s leading precision technology experts and will serve as the best partner to promote and distribute Sencorp products within the European Union,” Barkow said.

    Trimble Select is excited to bring this solution to our resellers and customers.

    To access Sencrop on Trimble Select’s platform, click here. Please contact your local reseller for more information.

  5. Trimble LATAM team participates in World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit

    Last week, the Trimble Agriculture Latin America (LATAM) team represented Trimble as a key participant in the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in South America on July 29 and 30.

    This collaborative virtual event served as a platform for some of the biggest players in the agriculture industry to discuss the most cutting edge technology on the market and how it can create a more connected, sustainable industry.

    Virtual Connection

    From the latest technology in AI to remote sensing, IOT and more, participants had the opportunity to share ideas and initiatives with other ag leaders and innovators around the world.

    In the first-ever virtual edition of the event, key speakers communicated solutions and strategies to improve efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability in South America’s agriculture and livestock farming sectors. Participants engaged in individual meetings, interactive group discussions and startup proposals, and listened to critical intelligence from industry leaders.

    Global Reach

    Trimble Agriculture Latin America Director of Sales Abe Hughes was one such speaker at the global event, serving as an expert resource on essential industry topics.

    According to Hughes, the event’s central objective is to promote interactive group discussions and global leaders to evaluate solutions for the industry to emerge from the current crisis.

    “Trimble was one of the main supporters for the event to take place in Brazil,” said Hughes. “We are fully satisfied to offer such an exclusive and enriching content for agribusiness in the country.”

    Trimble Inc. was a Gold Partner of the event. Key themes of the 2020 South America summit included precision agriculture technology, agricultural management, artificial intelligence and automation, investment and incubation, and more. 

    Past, Present and Future

    Since 2013, the annual World Agri-Tech Innovation Series has taken place in San Francisco and London. Agricultural leaders from around the globe, including agribusiness companies, tech suppliers, startups and investors, gather to engage with other ag titans and discover the latest innovations throughout the industry.

    Covering all components of the agrifood supply chain, it provides an opportunity to debate trends and solutions that frame the future of ag.

    The next virtual World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit will take place on September 15-16, 2020. For more information, please visit worldagritechinnovation.com

  6. 5 Key Takeaways from THRIVE Innovation Series Webinar with Trimble CEO Rob Painter

    It’s not often that two CEOs have the opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussion about the future of their industries in a public forum.

    Trimble CEO Rob Painter and John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Ventures-THRIVE, an organization focused on the future of food and agriculture, shared such a discussion last week in “Trimble: Connecting the Physical and Digital to Transform Agriculture.”

    This discussion and Q&A session was part of the THRIVE Innovation Series, in which industry leaders discuss the latest in food supply chain innovations, challenges, and trends.

    The July 9 virtual event was the most popular and well-attended of the THRIVE series, with 1,286 registered attendees from over 80 countries. The audience comprised of farmers, corporate entities, start-up entities, and academic participants.

    In this live webinar, Painter and Hartnett discussed important emerging topics related to the future of agriculture, including how ag technology is adapting to the “new normal” of COVID-19, what challenges and opportunities exist related to rural connectivity, and what’s next for agriculture automation. 

    Painter also shared his vision for Trimble Agriculture and the Connected Farm vision, as well as how Trimble supports agricultural entrepreneurs and start-ups through the Trimble Select Partners program.

    1. COVID-19 and Agriculture: Increased Digitalization

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has put the world in a tizzy, and farmers across the globe are finding new ways to connect with their customers and find support.

    Notably, the current pandemic has highlighted farmers’ ability to embrace technology out of necessity.

    “The pandemic is amplifying some of the digitization trends we see in the market,” he said.

    Such trends spur from widespread challenges that farmers continue to face throughout the pandemic. Some of the top farmer challenges include labor shortages, the ability to optimize profitability through production, and using data to make better decisions with a faster turnaround.

    Painter views these challenges as opportunities to create a better “normal” in the context of agricultural technology and the overall food supply chain. 

    According to Painter, farms have quickly adapted to a digital-first environment, and Trimble has also found an increased ability to provide remote support.

    “We were fortunate for the years of investments we’ve made in the technology that enables us today to be able to support, train, and service our customers who are out in the field and to be able to do that on a remote basis,” said Painter. “That’s been a really important pivot to us because that direct interaction is fundamental to the business.”

    2. Agricultural Autonomy: Gradual Progress to Network Optimization

    Another hot topic on the market is autonomy in the agricultural industry. But Painter doesn’t think machines will take over farming operations anytime soon.

    Rather, he believes that a progressive series of automation will be key to establishing autonomy among farming operations moving forward, starting with operator assistance, then machine and process optimization, and ultimately network optimization.

    “We see abilities to automate workflows in the near future,” said Painter. “It could be crop spraying, tilling the land, lead-follow concepts at harvest time. Taking discreet workflows that have specific opportunities to be optimized and made more efficient.”

    3. Challenges in Rural Locales: Cloud Connectivity

    In discovering these positive shifts in the industry, other challenges are unearthed. 

    Rural connectivity is a long-standing obstacle that many farms throughout the globe are faced with. In light of COVID-19, it’s clear that connectivity is essential for farms. Painter shared Trimble’s hypothesis that connectivity will happen in the cloud. This will also facilitate the future of autonomous farming.

    “If that process is going to happen in the cloud, you’ve got to have connectivity to the cloud,” said Painter. “You take it to its logical extension to autonomous farming and you have to have connectivity, not just to the cloud but machine to machine.”

    4. The Trimble Agriculture Vision: A Connected Farm Future

    When it comes to connecting the physical and digital world, Painter envisions a more connected agricultural ecosystem through the Trimble Connected Farm.

    This vision encompasses the seamless marriage of hardware and software that Trimble provides to facilitate more connected farms across the globe. Trimble Connected Farm uses real-time farm data to keep farmers with a mixed fleet operation engaged and up to speed with what’s happening in their field at all times in order to make smarter, more profitable decisions.

    5. Maximize Market Visibility: Trimble Select Program

     Painter’s biggest advice to start-ups and entrepreneurs in the ag industry? Start with the consumer and work backward.

    “Consider the needs of the farmers – The most important being ease of use, tangible ROI, and local support.”

    The Trimble Select program provides an opportunity for companies with aligned or mutual goals to gain increased market access. It is the first precision ag marketplace to bring unique and complementary products to the farming community through Trimble’s worldwide network of Vantage and Trimble Resellers.

    “We see the network of technology dealers, retailers, and agronomists as important parts of the ecosystem that really can’t be discounted,” said Painter. 

    To learn more about the Trimble Select program, click here

    Trimble Agriculture extends a huge thank-you to John Hartnett and SVG Ventures-THRIVE for hosting and inviting Trimble CEO Rob Painter to join the THRIVE Innovation Series! Be a part of the conversation with the THRIVE Innovation Series and connect with SVG Ventures on their website.

    You can view the full webinar recording here.

  7. Trimble Stands with the Black Community

    Racial injustice is heartbreaking and unconscionable. We, at Trimble, are deeply saddened by the senseless tragedies and systematic racism and its pervasive presence. We will use our voice and not stay silent. We stand in solidarity and will speak up against this injustice.

    We believe in belonging, inclusion and diversity to best represent the communities and customers we serve. We are committed to increasing diversity within our company. We are engaging our employee base to promote change and will publish a series of commitments in the upcoming weeks and months.
    We will not stay silent.

    #blacklivesmatter

    To read the full statement of this important message from Trimble CEO Rob Painter, please click here.

  8. How Precision Ag Pumps Up Profits

    One of the most frequently asked questions farmers have about precision ag is: Will it pay off?

    Most farmers find the answer to be yes. Whether it’s by streamlining workflows, reducing over-application of farm inputs or leveraging quality farm data to make better decisions, precision ag increases both productivity and profitability. 

    Here are four common ways it can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

    1. Save on Farm Inputs

    According to data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture, farm input costs increased an average of 2.48% from 2012, while farm profits dropped an average of 1.59%. With precision ag, you can reduce farm inputs while still protecting your yields and profitability.

    Variable-rate and section control technologies combined with prescription maps can help achieve this by applying the right amount of product to the right place in your field and should yield measurable improvement in the first year. One Canadian farmer was able to reduce his overall fungicide costs by a third with variable-rate technology.

    Other precision ag tools like GreenSeeker and WeedSeeker 2 use optical sensors to provide the right amount of nitrogen and herbicide, respectively, to apply as you move throughout your fields. We’ve found that the WeedSeeker 2 can cut chemical costs by up to 90%, and while using GreenSeeker in a corn-soybean rotation can increase corn yield by 18 bushels per acre.

    1. Reduce Costly Errors

    If you have several employees on your farm, using precision ag software like Work Orders can simplify the process of assigning and tracking field work to increase productivity. It can also further protect your profits by reducing the potential for expensive errors, such as spraying an input like dicamba under the wrong weather conditions or making an application to the wrong field. 

    1. Make Profit-Driving Decisions

    While precision ag can do a lot of the legwork in reducing expenses and boosting yield, it also gives you the power to make better decisions. As Jordan Wallace of GPS Ontario shared in a previous blog post, one grower he worked with learned from his yield data that a drowned-out pocket in his field was actually impacting 15 acres because it increased water saturation levels. This data showed that if he could fix the drainage zone, it would bring his field back into profitable production.

    1. Get a Quick ROI with Guidance and Steering

    For those new to precision ag, the one technology that can offer the fastest ROI is guidance and steering, with autosteer providing an immediate benefit. This is because of how quickly and accurately guidance and steering will help you complete your field applications. 

    A survey conducted in North Dakota found that of the 34% of farms using GPS guidance systems, machine time and fuel consumption both reduced around 6%, and of the 27% using autosteer, machine time and fuel consumption were further reduced by 5.75% and 5.33%, respectively. With autosteer, this translates to 492 gallons of fuel saved per farm and the monetized value of time saved at $851.27.

    With some crops, it may bring even bigger payoffs. University of Georgia research found autosteer used in peanut production significantly reduced digging losses when inverting peanuts, reduced overlaps on spraying and tillage, and improved overall efficiency, resulting in a one-year payback for many farmers. 

    Trimble customers can attest to these savings. Colorado farmer Troy Seaworth discovered that Trimble’s RTK guidance cut his farm’s fuel usage in half. It also reduced their hours, and he says every hour in the tractor costs $60-$80, making the savings significant.  

    And as California farmer Tom Barcellos told Successful Farming magazine, an automated steering system from Trimble “turned out to be an unbelievable investment,” as he saw a 10-15% savings in fuel, along with improved efficiency, reduced operator fatigue, and less wear and tear on machinery.

    Pushing Higher Profits with Precision Ag

    These examples are just the start of how precision ag can help make farms more profitable.  To learn more about precision ag and how it can boost your bottom line, download the free Ultimate Guide to Precision Ag ebook.

  9. 4 Steps to Get Started with Precision Ag

    There are seemingly endless benefits to adopting precision ag equipment and technology on your farm. Precision agriculture can help save you valuable time and product while increasing your ROI in overall efficiency and profit.

    A 2016 USDA Economic Research Service report found that the average farm operating profit of precision ag adopters was $66 per acre higher than non-adopters.

    But figuring out how to get started with precision ag and determining which technologies to adopt takes some thoughtful analysis. Here are four steps to get started with success.

    1. Identify Your Goals

    Any investment you make in your operation, whether it’s a planter, fertilizer, or precision ag solution, needs to be purchased with the intention to achieve a specific goal.

    Before buying a precision ag product or service, ask yourself: What problem will this help me solve?

    Let’s review some common issues farmers face and which precision ag options offer solutions.

    Problems: I’m tired from driving; I’m running over plants during in-field operations
    Solution: Guidance and steering, corrections services

    Implementing guidance and steering solutions like Trimble’s Autopilot frees up farmers to focus on the operation taking place instead of driving, which not only reduces operator fatigue but allows farmers to catch and correct any errors immediately.

    But even with auto steer, vehicles may not follow a guidance line perfectly straight. Instead, they’ll “snake” their way across that line as they move down the field, which can lead to damaged crops during future passes. Correction services like RTX solve this problem by keeping the vehicle within a half-inch of deviation on either side of the guidance line.

    Problems: I don’t know where there could be improvements; I have data, but I don’t know how to interpret it
    Solutions: Yield monitors, software management

    If you’re not sure what problems you need to solve or where you could make improvements to your operation, then you need data. Yield monitors are one of the best solutions for collecting data and help you evaluate what’s going on in your fields. The more data you have, the better informed your decisions will be.

    But if you have data and don’t know how to interpret it or what your next action steps should be, software management can help you make sense of the information and identify what problems you need to correct.

    Problems: My crops are inconsistent; I’m overapplying inputs
    Solution: Variable-Rate Technology

    If your goal is to have a uniform crop and to only apply inputs exactly where they’re needed at the right amount, you need variable-rate technology. By utilizing yield and soil maps to create prescriptions, variable-rate will allow you to apply different rates of seed, fertilizer, and other inputs to different areas of a field. Areas naturally high in nutrients, for example, may receive less fertilizer, while lower areas may receive more.

    For more examples of precision technologies and the problems they solve, check out the FREE Ultimate Guide to Precision Ag ebook.

    2. Do Your Research

    One way to ensure you’re making a smart purchase is to find reviews and testimonials of the precision ag products you’re interested in from farmers with similar problems and goals.

    While some solutions like guidance and steering will likely be a smart investment on any farm, the benefit of others may depend on your operation. For example, a farm with broad-acre crops may not see the same benefits of high accuracy corrections services as a farm with high-value row crops.

    Consider the climate, crops, acres and other key aspects of someone else’s operation to gather a fair assessment of whether the technology will have a similar impact on your farm.

    3. Ensure Interoperability

    Once you’ve decided on a precision ag technology to invest in, you need to check that it will work with your existing equipment and any precision ag technology you already have. Otherwise, you may not reap the full benefits of precision ag and may wind up with more problems than you started with.

    Farm software should be able to automatically sync guidance lines, field names, boundaries, materials, implements, vehicles and operator info across all devices on the farm so that data is available everywhere at all times. And check to see if your equipment uses ISOBUS, as this is the industry standard that allows machines, implements and displays to “talk” to each other, regardless of brand.

    4. Get Support

    You don’t have to venture into precision ag alone. Trimble’s resellers, including our premier Vantage network, can give you guidance on what precision ag products will benefit you the most, help you get set up and provide support when you need it.

    If you’re ready to get started with precision ag, find your nearest Trimble reseller here. For more information on precision ag and what it can do for your operation, check out the Ultimate Guide to Precision Ag ebook today.