Information Abounds At Ag Research, Technology Conference

Telemetrics moves into spotlight as latest among technology advances for precision agriculture

We’re learning the latest in  leading edge technology in two days of speakers and demonstrations at the Kansas Ag Research and Technology Association annual spring conference in Salina.

I am always amazed at the strides that are made year to year in making better use of technology to make ag production more efficient and more profitable.

The fascinating program of the afternoon was on telematics, the potential to use wireless communications and advanced sensors to close the communication channel between farm machinery operation and farm managers, who can monitor what’s happening in the field, in real time, on a desktop computer in the office.

Presenters Terry Kastens and Kevin Dhuyvetter told the more than 100 producers present for the conference that several things are holding back a revolution of technology in that area – the dependability (or lack thereof) of cell phone and wireless radio connections, sensors in combines, tractors and sprayers capable of collecting the needed data and communicating with the “office,” easy to understand in-cab displays of information and the ability to collect the correct data from CANbus.

“All of these things will happen,” Kastens said. “And the result is that a lot of this low-hanging fruit technology will be “duh” in a few years. We will all be doing this kind of data collection and as a result, it won’t give you a big economic advantage – it will just enable you to keep up.”

What will make the difference, Dhuyvetter said, is figuring out how to use the data collected to improve the efficiency of machinery and labor on the farm.

“The operators who will gain the most will quickly see how their assumptions are being challenged and what needs to be readjusted about things like “lost time,” he said.

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