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Tech Tools in the Field

December 8, 2012
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete
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The Farm Journal Test Plots team incorporates new technologies in their field tests every year. Since the plots program began 22 years ago, technology has come a long way. Hands-on experience keeps our Farm Journal Field Agronomists Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer, along with their crews, up to speed with the current tools on the market. Here’s a roundup of the technologies they used for the first time during the past year.

Guided Planting

pC2 Tech Tools in the Field Guided Planting

High-accuracy steering systems allowed the crew to plant complete treatments across a field.

The Illinois test plot crew used a Massey Ferguson 7620 tractor outfitted with a Topcon 150 automated steering system. This was the first time the crew used a Topcon steering system, although they had previously used Topcon field computers.

"This system was set up to use a cellular phone signal for its accuracy correction," says crew member Isaac Ferrie. "This type of system eliminates the need to set up an RTK base station for every field, and it provides the same level of accuracy with reliable cellular signal." Automated steering and RTK-level accuracy have enabled the crew to plant plots in a more efficient and accurate manner.

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Pinpoint Pinch Rows

pC2 Tech Tools in the Field Pinpoint Pinch Rows

With a FieldScout SC 900 (below), the crew was able to measure and map compaction.

The test plot crew has observed the negative impact of compaction in the planter pass. However, it’s been hard to precisely measure and map the microenvironment for the seeds planted inside and outside the compaction zone.

This year after planting, the crew went to a field planted with a Kinze 3660 planter equipped with the hydraulic weight transfer feature. Using a Spectrum Technologies FieldScout SC 900 soil penetrometer, the crew took readings with the weight transfer system on and off and inside and outside the tire tracks.

"Because of the dry year, we took measurements at 18", but this penetrometer can go up to 24" deep," says crew member Brad Beutke. "The key feature of this penetrometer is the ability to integrate a GPS receiver, which maps all of the results across a field."

An ultrasonic sensor located on the bottom of the handle measures the depth. In the field, the crew used an aluminum plate with a hole for the penetrometer rod to flatten the soybeans for an accurate depth Pinpoint Pinch Rows reading without crop interference. A more detailed report is to come.

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Variable-Rate Soybean Population

 pC2 Tech Tools in the Field Variable Rate Soybean Population

A first-year trial looked at
the potential of variablerate
soybean populations.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - December 2012



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