2013-05-16 / Ag News

The Record’s Ag Report

By Terri Lang

May 13, 2013

Precision ag equipment is very popular and several agricultural producers are using it to increase efficiency, improve crops and increase profits.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a spacebased satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions. A GPS receiver calculates its position by precisely timing the signals sent by GPS satellites high above the earth.

The GPS benefits farmers by helping to accurately identify and record the location and field functions of a combine, tractor or sprayer.

Derek Wald works for a John Deere dealership and also farms land in the Hague area. He finds it very benefi- cial to test the equipment on his own farming operation, assisting him in answering questions that producers have on the system.


Seeding is underway in Emmons County. Near Hague, Derek Wald said as of Sat., May 4, the topsoil moisture was good, but the subsoil moisture was not. Rainfall is needed soon. As of May 4, soil temperatures are in the 40s, which are fair for wheat, but we should have 50 degrees for corn planting. Subsequently, it’s been warming up. Seeding is underway in Emmons County. Near Hague, Derek Wald said as of Sat., May 4, the topsoil moisture was good, but the subsoil moisture was not. Rainfall is needed soon. As of May 4, soil temperatures are in the 40s, which are fair for wheat, but we should have 50 degrees for corn planting. Subsequently, it’s been warming up. Even though it seems quite simple during seeding time, as the GPS does all the work and controls the application of fertilizer, there is a process that farmers do to get it to that point.

“Most of the labor on the farmer’s end comes when they first input the data needed,” Wald said.

Producers map their fields and input the information they have available from their soil tests. During harvest time, they map all the data collection received from the individual fields, including yields, in a GPS software program. Agronomists provide advice in creating a fertilizer prescription that will give them a healthy crop.


The GPS benefits farmers by helping to accurately identify and record the location and field functions of a combine, tractor or sprayer. The monitor shows the target rate and actual rate of fertilizer application. The GPS benefits farmers by helping to accurately identify and record the location and field functions of a combine, tractor or sprayer. The monitor shows the target rate and actual rate of fertilizer application. Using the results of harvest from each field and in different locations in that field, and combining that with the soil types, elevation and previous history on yields, producers are able to better apply the correct type and amount of fertilizer in specific areas.

Once all that information is available, the agronomist and producer input it on a USB flash drive that the producer plugs into his system on the tractor or combine. The producer loads the field they are working on and the fertilizer prescription that was selected. The display monitor shows all the functions the equipment performs and it controls the variable rate of fertilizer application for each zone.


The display monitor shows all the functions the equipment performs and it controls the variable rate of fertilizer application for each zone. On this 80-acre field, the prescription applied starter fertilizer at 109 pounds at the lowest zone and 141 at the highest zone. It also applied Urea at a low of 118 and a high of 271. Wald said sunflowers use up more of the nutrients in the soil than most other crops. The display monitor shows all the functions the equipment performs and it controls the variable rate of fertilizer application for each zone. On this 80-acre field, the prescription applied starter fertilizer at 109 pounds at the lowest zone and 141 at the highest zone. It also applied Urea at a low of 118 and a high of 271. Wald said sunflowers use up more of the nutrients in the soil than most other crops. “It is a great tool,” Wald said. “Before this type of technology, farmers just applied fertilizer evenly over the whole field.”

Another advantage is the information and statistics are readily available for farmers who are enrolled in government farm programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program.

“When signing up for some of the farm programs, farmers need to supply required documentation showing they are using proper measures to improve the way they farm the land,” Wald said.


GPS data can sync to your smartphone or tablet through your home computer system. GPS data can sync to your smartphone or tablet through your home computer system. Although Wald realizes the GPS is costly at a $20,000 price tag, which includes auto track, he believes it is worth the investment.

“It is very handy as all the data can sync to your smartphone or tablet through your home computer system,” Wald said.



If there is a blockage in the air seeder pipes, seed sensors which are the small black boxes on top of the air seeder pipes or tubes, sense the blockage and send a warning message to the monitor. If there is a blockage in the air seeder pipes, seed sensors which are the small black boxes on top of the air seeder pipes or tubes, sense the blockage and send a warning message to the monitor.

Derek Wald works for a John Deere Dealership, farms land in the Hague area and appreciates owning a GPS for his farming operation. Derek Wald works for a John Deere Dealership, farms land in the Hague area and appreciates owning a GPS for his farming operation.

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