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November 2012 Archive for Growing Technology

RSS By: Ben Potter,

Technology editor Ben Potter brings you the latest in technology news, and how you can apply it to farming.


Top 50 Ag Technology Innovations of 2012

Nov 27, 2012

 ‘Tis the season for year-end "best of" lists, and I ran across one that is definitely worth sharing. It’s from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, who just released the winners of their annual AE50 New Product Awards. ASABE seeks out new machines or machine components that "embody the application of new technology or the innovative application of an older technology."

This year’s crop of winners hails from all corners of the agriculture industry, from household names such as John Deere, Case IH and Michelin, to lesser-known but equally innovative companies such as Laforge Systems, Ally Precision Industries and Weasler Engineering. And the winning products benefit diverse segments of the agriculture industries, whether it’s a better cotton gin stand, an on-the-go grain analyzer, or even a remote frost-alert system.

"The winning products this year focus heavily on controls, electronics, management systems, advanced machines and input/output monitoring," says ASABE’s executive director, Darrin Drollinger.

The only award of its kind, the AE50 awards program has been encouraging ag engineering achievements since 1984. Starting next year, ASABE is partnering with AG CONNECT to award Gold and Silver distinctions among the 2012 and 2013 AE50 award winners. A limited number of these new awards will be presented at the AG CONNECT Expo & Summit on January 29, 2013.

You can find a full listing and detailed descriptions of all 50 of the 2013 AE50 winners here.

Two New Apps Boost Planting and Harvest Analysis

Nov 15, 2012

 To some extent, smartphones are only as smart as the apps they contain. Ag PhD is attempting an IQ boost through the release of two new apps to help farmers more easily analyze planting populations and losses at harvest. The apps, Planting Population Calculator and Harvest Loss Calculator, were created thanks to a Case IH sponsorship and are available for iPhone and Android devices.

"I’m using both of these apps already on my farm, and we feel many other farmers will benefit from them, too," says Brian Hefty, co-host of Ag PhD.

The calculators are pretty straightforward and simple to use. The Harvest Loss Calculator lets you select from soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum, barley or oats. From there, you count the number of seeds or kernels left on the ground in a square foot. Then, you enter in that number, along with seeds per pound and current crop price, and the app calculates the value of the crop that didn’t quite make it into the combine.

"With commodity prices for so many crops at record levels, even the loss of a single bushel per acre over an entire farm can translate to thousands of dollars of lost revenue," Hefty says.

The Planting Population Calculator is another easy-to-use tool. Before planting, farmers can determine optimum in-row spacing between seeds based on row width and desired plant population. After planting, farmers can "ground truth" their results by selecting a row length, counting the number of plants within that distance and entering in their row spacing.

The apps are free and ready for download from the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.

harvestloss soybeanexample iphone

A screenshot of the Harvest Loss Calculator mobile app.

10 Oddball Presidential Predictions

Nov 06, 2012

Today’s the big day to cast your vote, elect a variety of politicians and support or dismiss your state’s propositions. Now we’ll see how accurate all of the pollsters and prognosticators have been at predicting the results. Better yet, others have searched high and low for more unconventional ways to predict election outcomes by searching out patterns and connections. The Houston Chronicle has collated a list of 10 such predictions. For more detailed analysis, visit their website, but here’s a summary of the findings:


The Redskins Rule
What is it? If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent party wins.
Who wins? Panthers over Redskins on Sunday, so Romney over Obama today.

The 7-Eleven Coffee Cup Election
What is it? Buy a Romney or Obama coffee cup at 7-Eleven. The candidate with the most joe wins.
Who wins? Obama’s up 59% to 41%.

Halloween Masks
What is it? The party ticket with the most mask sales have correlated with every president since Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election.
Who wins? has the Romney-Ryan ticket clinging to a 2% lead.

Alabama vs. LSU
What is it? Alabama’s the stand-in for the Democrats, and LSU is the stand-in for the Republicans.
Who wins? The Crimson Tide won 21-17, predicting a W for Obama.

The 14-Year Rule
What is it? When you’re elected to your first major office, the clock starts ticking. You have 14 years to reach the presidency. Otherwise, you’re past your "sell by" date.
Who wins? Romney’s actually "fresher" than Obama, who just passed his 14-year "sell by" date.

Lakers Law
What is it? If the L.A. Lakers make the NBA Championship series, a Republican makes it to the White House.
Who wins? The Lakers missed the NBA finals this year, so Romney will fall short as well.

Futures Market Trading
What is it? sells futures contracts for presidential candidates. Whoever trades higher, wins.
Who wins? Obama is trading above $7, while Romeny is trading at less than half of that amount.

First Lady Cookie Contest
What is it? Family Circle magazine solicits cookie recipes from the First Ladies. Most votes wins.
Who wins? Ann Romney’s M&M cookies were solid but no match for Michelle Obama’s white and dark chocolate chip cookies this year.

Kids Count
What is it? Kids can’t cast real votes, but they can let their opinions be heard in the Scholastic News election poll.
Who wins? The kids are alright with Obama.

Astrological Predictions
What is it? The National Astrology Conference convenes every four years to predict the president by reading tea leaves or flipping Tarot cards (or however they do it).
Who wins? The stars have aligned for Obama.

Of course, the only thing that truly matters in the end is actual votes. Don’t forget to get out today and do your part! You can practice by voting in our AgWeb poll.


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