Drones, Technology Advances

Farmer interest in data technology continues to grow as producers work to become more efficient. Advanced technology including automation with GPS control and wireless data gathering is being used to zero in on problems in fields.

“Technology today has no limits and it continues to get better,” says Chad Colby of Colby Ag Tech. “Sensors and data processing are going to continue to get better. We are already seeing sensors that can go in unmanned vehicles.”

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones with cameras or sensors used with specialized software can expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level.

Drone cameras can take multispectral images, capturing data from the infrared and the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy and distressed plants in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Also, drones can survey crops every week, every day or even every hour.

Time-series animation can be assembled with the imagery showing changes in the crop, revealing trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management.

Colby says drones can be put to use almost immediately.

“There will be new and better technology coming, but don’t wait. Get some experience now,” Colby says.

Before buying a drone, Colby recommends outlining exactly how you want it used and learn all you can from workshops, neighbors and fellow farmers who have experience with drones. Decide who will fly it and what training is needed.

He says a great system can be purchased for $2,000 or less and can provide a good baseline to start. He also recommends farmers understand all rules and regulations before getting into drones by visiting www.knowbeforeyoufly.org. Before flying, get information from the Federal Aviation Administration at www.faa.gov/uas/.

New technology from New Holland

New Holland says it is the first major original equipment manufacturer to offer a proprietary cellular RTK correction network. PLM RTK+ provides a cellular-delivered RTK correction signal, and is available to producers in the United States and Canada through a subscription at participating New Holland dealers.

New Holland says the signal is available and consistent with sub-inch accuracy anywhere within the network. There are no line shifts between bases, as with traditional single base or stand-alone stations. And, there are no line-of-sight limitations that occur with radio correction.

Trees, valleys, hills, buildings and other obstructions are not a problem.

Dan Valen, New Holland’s Cash Crop Segment marketing manager, says PLM RTK+ is competitively priced against satellite delivery and other cellular-delivered corrections.

“Once fully rolled-out, customers will be able receive correction signals from northern Canada to the southernmost parts of Texas and coast-to-coast, as long as cellular data signals are available with a signal subscription,” Valen says.

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