Precise pivots

01/11/2013 @ 2:41pm

Relying on Mother Nature to provide enough water to feed your crops didn't turn out well in 2012. The meager rainfalls forced many of you to supplement with irrigated water.

As you try to make the most of every drop of water, companies like John Deere are responding by developing technology to better manage water.

John Deere Field Connect provides site-specific water-management data to simplify the decision-making process when it comes to irrigation practices. With site-specific information, you are able to more efficiently utilize irrigation inputs, which results in fuel savings and increased yield potential. The Field Connect system continuously logs soil-moisture data from probes installed in your fields and transmits the data to a website you can access remotely.

Fully integrated

According to product manager Nicholas Shafer, Field Connect is a fully integrated system that includes three different probe options and a solar panel, as well as both satellite and cellular data connections. Field-specific soil-moisture data is transmitted to a secure website for viewing. You can program the system to receive alerts based on set parameters.

“John Deere Field Connect features multiple capacitance sensors placed at specific depths for measuring volumetric soil-moisture levels,” says Shafer, who is part of Deere's Intelligent Solutions Group. “The Field Connect gateway unit logs the moisture data from each sensor, stores it, and transmits it to the John Deere Field Connect Web application. When you access the data on the website, you can select from a variety of graph types to view the data.”

Field Connect graphs soil-moisture readings at the individual sensor level (soil depth) and over the entire monitored soil profile. It shows water movement within the profile over time.

The system can be customized to each of your fields, depending on the type of crops grown, soil type, and water-management objectives.

You will have the ability to integrate the data from John Deere Field Connect with yield, soil type, fertility, and other agronomic information to more effectively optimize the productivity of each field.

“Knowing exactly how much water is in the soil and at what depth is becoming even more important as you try to manage water resources most efficiently for maximum yields,” says Shafer. “John Deere Field Connect is the latest tool you can use to help optimize inputs, reduce crop stress from too much or too little moisture, and manage fuel and other costs in producing your crops.”

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Protecting Pivots

Less than 20 minutes. That's the amount of time estimated it takes for a thief to strip the wire from an irrigation system. A low-risk, high-reward crime, copper theft on irrigation systems is continually on the rise, and growers are being forced to find ways to protect their investment.

It's a problem Maryland farmer Downes Warren faced on more than one occasion. He needed a solution that would deter would-be thieves. He shared his problem with Paul Yiannakis, a mechanic who was working for him.

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