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High-tech harvest

Agriculture.com Staff 08/09/2006 @ 10:36am

Two days after undergoing back surgery, Dave Rubey walked out of the hospital to tend to a delayed harvest. Unable to turn his neck, the Cayuga, North Dakotan rigged his combine with mirrors and installed a camera system to try to maneuver his combine.

"The system's monitor had a fuzzy black-and-white image, and the cameras, which were constantly breaking down, would white out whenever they were turned toward the sun," Rubey recalls. The frustration of that experience inspired Rubey to search for a better video system for agriculture.

Today, farmers like Bruce Speich employ Rubey's AgCam system for a wide range of chores from coordinating harvest unloading to monitoring dryers back home. "It provides detailed color images during the day and black-and-white images (thanks to automatic infrared illuminators) at night," says Speich, who farms with his brother, Craig, near Milner, North Dakota.

Recent advances in electronics have spawned a plethora of advanced products like the AgCam system (www.agcam.com).

They deliver truckloads of convenience from bin electronics that control drying and aeration to yield monitors that also track a crop's oil or starch content.

"Remote video systems provide a good example of the refinements that have happened in electronics recently," Rubey notes. "Not only are monitors available that provide a crisp image, but also I was able to combine advanced camera optics with rugged farmer engineering to create nearly indestructible cameras that take the worse situations farming serves up."

The basic AgCam system, made up of a camera and a 6- or 7-inch flat-screen monitor, sells for $1,089. Additional cameras can be bought for $389 or a Quad Processor that shows up to four cameras at once on an 6-, 7- or 9-inch monitor.

And for wireless operation, opt for the Ranch Hand transmitter-receiver system for $299, which allows images to be projected across a 2,500-foot field or, using a variety of antennas, up to 15 miles.

"This has allowed some of our systems' users to check grain dryer monitors at home or from within combine cabs," Rubey says.

The system is designed to "plug and play," Rubey adds, with the cameras mounted on magnetic bases and monitors using suction cups so they can be easily moved to other machinery or buildings.

Two days after undergoing back surgery, Dave Rubey walked out of the hospital to tend to a delayed harvest. Unable to turn his neck, the Cayuga, North Dakotan rigged his combine with mirrors and installed a camera system to try to maneuver his combine.

Last winter the European Community launched the first two of 30 satellites in their Galileo navigation system that, when in operation in 2008, will provide real-time global positioning with a margin of error of less than 4 meters.

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