|GPS leads producers to improved efficiency|
|Written by Kyle Arnoldy|
Like many other fields, the technological advances within the agriculture world in the past two decades have presented producers with opportunities to increase efficiency while also reducing the time it takes to complete tasks.
One area in particular that has seen a dramatic growth in productivity is GPS and how it can be put to use for producers. While GPS technology is not new, improvements in its applications have drastically increased.
With the first automated steering system for farm equipment launched around the turn of the century, the last 15 years have seen the limits of the technology expand to unimaginable lengths. With the latest GPS advancements, farmers have seen GPS used to determine if they are driving on the correct path to having the equipment that makes it possible for the GPS to actually navigate the tractor.
Farmers are also able to send prescription data directly to the tractor, while having the figures for what has been applied and harvested available in real time. This makes it possible for landlords to immediately see what is going on in their fields and make informed decisions about moving forward.
This is a much-improved way of analyzing data compared to having to remove a thumb drive from the tractor and download the information on a computer away from the fields. If something was wrong with the planter, it would be apparent immediately with the new technology as outputs would not be correct.
The use of GPS technology on farm equipment in the fields can lead to increased efficiency by improving accuracy to reduce wasting materials and time. —Enterprise photo
“Depending on how fast you updated your files, you may not have known something was wrong with your planter until halfway through the planting season,” Gordon Hielscher, service manager at Ag Power Equipment in Holyoke, said of the downfalls of not having that information immediately available.
The advancements also made it possible to track all yield information available on the fly in a matter of seconds. With more information than ever readily available and yield maps becoming much more accurate, variable rate technology has advanced. Prescriptions are much more complex, with the capability of determining where within fields need more seed, fertilizer or even water. GPS makes addressing these field differences possible.
“Now I think the next big thing is data management,” said Troy Randall, integrated solutions consultant at 21st Century Equipment in Holyoke. “We have all of this data now, so what do we do with it and how do we apply it to our operation to maximize our efficiency even more? Information is power. The more information we have and can apply to an operation, the better decisions we can make and better yields we can see.”
According to Randall, if these prescriptions are programmed into the computer in the tractor, the operator fatigue is greatly reduced as the tractor drives itself, giving the farmer the option to focus attention elsewhere than driving a straight line. He noted that the advancements all relate to the goal of maximum efficiency.
One of the most important advantages offered through the advancements of GPS usage lies with its repeatability. Through real time kinematic (RTK) systems, the GPS accuracy is in the sub-inch. This is important as it ensures the tractors are on the correct path day after day and year after year.
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