Tech Journal

November 14, 2009 10:10 AM

Data Hitchhikes on Hay Bales
From the moment it's bundled in twine, a big square bale can be equipped with a high-tech tag to take bale data along for the ride from the field to storage and delivery. Using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, the New Holland CropID system gathers detailed information about the individual bale and stores it in a microchip automatically attached to the twine.

Farmers can sort bales based on characteristics, such as: bale number, field number or name, date and time they were baled, high and average moisture content, amount of preservative applied and bale weight. The bale data helps sort and manage stored bales by criteria ranges, and tracks the amount of hay on hand from each field and cutting.

The CropID system works by encasing a microchip and its antenna in a tag wrapped around the twine as the bale is tied. The CropID bale tagger mounts on the big square baler. A pre-cision information processor stores the bale's information, and the RFID bale tags are read by a hand-held scanner that can display bale data from within a 5' range of the tag. An advanced scanner that docks onto a loader, with the screen visible to the operator, features a 10' range to read tags even if they can't be directly seen. The scanners create lists of bales made in each field, and a USB memory device can be used to transfer the lists to a computer for farm management.

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Straight Out of the Box

Make weather data even more local to your farm. The Hobo U30/NRC Weather Station Starter Kit from Onset Computer is a complete weather station that comes in a single package. The weather monitoring kit adds a suite of plug-and-play weather sensors to the company's research-grade data logging weather station. The Hobo U30/NRC Weather Station Starter Kit
includes a HOBO U30/NRC data logger; a solar panel for recharging the battery; temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction sensors; and a solar radiation shield. The U30/NRC accepts up to 10 plug-and-play weather-smart sensors that can simply be plugged into the logger and automatically recognized without complicated wiring, programming or calibration. The system is weatherproof and all electronics are in double-weatherproof enclosures to fend off harsh environments.

To make data retrieval easy, pair the weather station with the Hobo U30 Shuttle. This shuttle can quickly and safely off-load data from U30/NRC systems in the field and download to a PC or Mac for analysis with Hoboware Pro software. Price: $1,400.

Contact: Onset Computer Corporation, P.O. Box 3450, Pocasset, MA 02559; (800) 564-4377.

Another Signal from the Stars
Topcon Positioning Systems engineers have successfully tracked the new L5 signal transmitted from a U.S.-based GPS satellite. The U.S. Air Force, which is testing the L5 signal from one GPS satellite, says the signal isn't guaranteed or reliable and expects it to be several years before the signal is operational. Topcon says it's focused on keeping all of its products ready to run on current and future signals, and the company's current GR-3 and NET-G3 receivers are L5-capable. Topcon receivers can also receive GPS/GLONASS L1/L2 signals. In the case of precision guidance, more is better, and the more signals a receiver can pick up, the better the accuracy.


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