Tech Journal

March 4, 2017 02:26 AM

By Chris Bennett and Ben Potter


Boom Height Control Boost

The new NORAC UC7 boom height control system streamlines automated control and reduces application costs by maintaining a consistent height. UC7 is produced by Topcon Agriculture and combines three modules into one from the NORAC UC5 Control System. The UC7 control model is easily updated to advanced control levels. Farmers can also add new features via USB. It is compatible with Universal Terminal displays. Visit for more details.

DroneDeploy, CNH Industrial Collaborate

DroneDeploy is collaborating with CNH Industrial to offer a new drone data package called PLM Drone Data Manager, which can help farmers collect aerial mapping data. Ideally, the technology would allow farmers to uncover several in-season opportunities, such as adjusting a fertilizer program on the go, identifying pest infestations and analyzing plant counts and stand establishment.

“Farmers and producers may not be able to control certain environmental conditions, but drones are an efficient way to mitigate crop health issues and improve yields,” says Scott Lumish, vice president of business development at DroneDeploy. “The benefits of being able to survey both the 10,000' view of fields as well as zoom in to inches above the plants are incredibly powerful.”

With DroneDeploy’s software, users can fly a field, create maps and view those maps with a variety of filters on the same day. Data is easy to share and analyze with crop advisers. The software is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

The package is available at more than 1,000 New Holland and Case IH dealerships, and includes a one-year subscription to DroneDeploy’s software, a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone with RGB camera and additional accessories. For more information, visit

Is Machine Learning the Future of Soil Fertility? 

An agtech company from the Netherlands is about to enter the U.S. market with new technology that might change farmers’ approach to soil fertility.


With its initiatives Springg and SoilCares, the company, Dutch Sprouts, works with Talend, a big data integration company, to blend a mix of hardware and software to gather and analyze soil samples around the globe. It all starts with a handheld scanner that allows farmers to analyze soils on the go, says Angelique van Helvoort, head of marketing and communications with Dutch Sprouts.

“You simply scan the soil and transfer it to our database,” she says. “Within minutes, a readout and fertilizer advice is sent to the user’s smartphone. In total, the process takes about 10 minutes. It’s really quite easy.”

The scanner uses mid-infrared reflectance and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy to “see” detailed information about the soil’s organic components and texture. It also enables farmers to learn about their soil’s concentrations of pH and the main nutrients. By using the same scanner but different algorithms, farmers will soon also be able to determine nutrient levels in animal feed.

The key to success is having a broad database so the samples are correctly calibrated and can make accurate predictions about nutrient levels. To do this, thousands of samples must be taken. Through artificial intelligence and machine learning, each subsequent sample gets more accurate.

“It improves with every sample added to the database,” she says.

The company has finished a successful pilot program in Kenya. van Helvoort hopes farmers in this market will find the technology to be a game changer, as they are suddenly exposed to soil fertility information they’ve never had access to before.

According to former Springg CEO Wouter Kerkhof, of the world’s 500 million farmers, only about 20 million can afford the time or money it takes to test soil samples through traditional laboratories. The goal is to take this agtech and stretch it worldwide.

The U.S. is one of the next target markets. Currently, samples are being collected in the Fargo, N.D., area. “We need a good database before we can enter a new market,” she says. 



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