Non-GMO Push Will Change Precision Priorities

Non-GMO Push Will Change Precision PrioritiesThere is now something missing in your regular box of Cheerios and it has possible big implications for where precision agriculture may be headed.

If you haven’t been down the breakfast aisle at your local grocery store lately you probably haven’t seen some of the big changes going on in the food industry. Cheerios has gone non-GMO and there are several other brands and boxes that are now doing the same thing.  Non-GMO is the trend and more and more companies like General Mills know it and there is already serious product segregation going on in the consumer marketplace.

So what does all this mean for production agriculture and more specifically for precision agriculture?  Well in short – it is time for producers to wake up to what is going on. A growing number of consumers say they don’t want GMO’s as a part of their diet.  That’s a big problem because, according to the latest numbers, over 90 percent of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified.

Non-GMO Project Verified

Non-GMO Project Product Verification

It is becoming increasingly evident that producers are losing the trust of their customers. It doesn’t matter to them whether the science is sound – they simply don’t like sound of “genetically-modified.”  In their eyes its just not natural.  GMO is a three-letter acronym looked at in the same vein as the IRS, the KGB and DDT. Like it or not the poor perception of GMO’s has become reality and that is not likely to change anytime soon.

That’s why the Walmarts and the General Mills of the world are doing what any sound business would do – they are listening to their customer and giving them what they want. Appeasing the consumers of today – especially the millennials – will not be as easy as just printing the words Non-GMO on the side of a cereal box. It doesn’t end there. They want to know the story of how their food was produced and where it came from.  Farm to fork is finally here and that’s where precision ag has a huge role to play.

“Trust, but verify” were the words used by Ronald Reagan when dealing with the Soviet Union over the issue of nuclear warheads.  Modern consumers want the same thing when it comes to their food. Producers will have to prove where it came from, what seeds were used to plant it, what inputs were used to grow it and what farming practices were used to produce it.

That’s where the tools of precision must go to work.  Every field operation will have to be documented digitally.  The old pocket notebook just isn’t going to cut it.  Fields where non-GMO crops are planted will have to be geo-tagged and all production information will have to be made readily available to the buyers in this new non-GMO marketplace.  That means information must be complete, correct and timely – not the chaos that characterizes most precision data today.

Whereas most precision technology that has been deployed to date has been more about solving on-farm production and economic challenges such as yield monitoring and autosteer – this next round will go far beyond the farm.  Instantaneous wireless data transfer from the field will become standard fare. Meanwhile, RFID technology or some version of it will likely track the seeds going in the ground and the grain coming out at harvest.  Cloud computing and a centralized online account shared between the producer and key players in the food chain will replace USB sticks and the office PC.  And on-farm sensors that monitor weather, resource usage and even the quality of the grain in the bin after harvest are all part of the transformation of the farm that will be driven – correct that – demanded by the modern consumer.

The bottom line is that producers who want to remain relevant in the future are going to have to wake up and gear up – soon. If you’re thinking about producing non-GMO crops then you better be getting your digital ducks in a row. Documentation will be your passport in order to be able to play in this two-tiered marketplace. The big question is – do you have your passport?

One place you can get your initial precision passport is Prime Meridian through their Precision First program. Precision First is a precision data management plan for producers that ensures that comprehensive key production data is collected and recorded correctly.  Planting data, yield data along with standardized variety naming and tracking are all part of the package that can easily be shared with third parties – perfect for those considering producing for the emerging non-GMO market. For more information on Precision First and other data management technologies contact Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or email him at justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Drones on Demand – The Future of UAV’s in Ag

IDrones on Demandn the field of agriculture drones are still sitting on the precision runway.  Many in the industry still look upon them as more of a hobby than the agronomic workhorse they have the potential to be.

There are several reasons for such perceptions.  First of all many of such said perceptions are true. Unfortunately, for all intents and purposes, the only fully legal way to fly a drone is as a hobby and not for commercial purposes.  Hopefully, this will change but for now we have to sit back and watch the Federal Aviation Administration and the slow-moving wheels of government come up with their new commercial rules for drones.

The other big problem in making drones practical for agriculture is that they are still too small and inefficient to make an impact on a large scale.  That’s understandable given the restrictive regulatory black cloud still hanging over the industry.

But it hasn’t been all dark skies.  The silver lining has been that early drone adopters were not going to be denied.  The technology is too intriguing and holds too much potential even at an individual grower level. So in order to put an “early bird” in the air so to speak – the drones had to be small in order to comply with the only FAA rules currently on the books – the ones for hobbyists.

These early adopters have blazed a trail for what is to come.  Kudos for them. They have stoked a fire that is likely to become a full-blown inferno once the FAA finally does settle on its official direction for drones.  How drones are ultimately used and leveraged within agriculture is likely to be dramatically different than the rogue do-it-yourself environment that we’ve seen so far.

When drones get the green light from the FAA, the industry is then going to treat it as a real business.  That means being able to fly more than just a few hundred or thousand acres a day or being able to stay in the air longer that 30 to 45 minutes.

NetJets

NetJets Fleet (Photo Source: corporatejetinvestor.com)

One of the most likely future models for the agricultural drone business is one that mimics a Warren Buffet owned company called NetJets.  It’s just not practical for even most high-powered businessmen to own a multi-million dollar corporate jet by themselves.  But it does make sense to own or even rent a piece of one – in essence timeshares for jets.  Such a scenario makes total sense for producers who want access to the benefits of a drone but don’t want the overhead and time commitment.

Such businesses may already be forming – laying the groundwork and getting ready to shoot out of the gate as soon as the FAA clears the runway for drones for commercial agriculture purposes.  One early-bird company touting a “drone as a service” model is a company called Measure based out of Washington, D.C.  It looks to leverage drone resources across the country and even the world. And from the looks of their website these aren’t the “baby” drones we’ve seen in the past.  Take a look and I think you’ll get the idea – www.measure32.com.

Another company with a fleet of larger drones is one based out of Newport, Virginia called Digital Harvest.  It has already been providing imagery services for larger commercial farms and specialty crop operations with drones that stay in the air hours at a time – not minutes.  Check their services out at http://www.digital-harvest.net.

The irony in this whole drone discussion is that the real value of a drone is not the drone itself. No doubt their coolness factor shot them into the limelight, but it is their potential to vastly improve upon the data and how it is delivered that has both producers and professionals intrigued.  Let’s face it, fuzzy red pictures from satellites were not cutting the mustard when it came to delivering relevant in-season crop imagery.  The number and quality of the types of on-board sensors a drone can carry – especially larger drones – is about to explode.

For these reasons it is drone service companies that will likely have more impact on the direction of drones in agriculture rather than any single drone manufacturer. Get ready to book your season tickets because these companies will be coming to play ball.  It should be fun to watch.

FBN Takes Data in a Different Direction

“Think different.”

Those words helped define a little technology company called Apple Computer.

FBN Take Data in a Different DirectionToday, another technology company called Farmers Business Network (FBN) hopes that same contrarian approach – thinking differently when it comes to farmer’s data – propels them to similar success.

It was FBN’s intent out of the gate to be a disrupter in the competitive and growing field of agriculture based Big Data firms.  At first glance there are three things that are noticeably different about FBN when compared to the current competition in the marketplace.

First difference – they are independent with no direct ties to any of the big name agribusiness giants – many of whom already have their data hook in the water. Arguably the biggest hook currently in the water is a company called Climate.com aka Monsanto. The Achilles heel of someone like a Climate.com is – whether right or wrong – they are not perceived as biased by most producers and their intentions are certainly going to be questioned when you have a multi-billion dollar agricultural conglomerate as the backside benefactor of such customer information.

FBN knows this and their business model is based on the logic that someone within the industry has got to wear the white hat. Why not them?  Farmers respect such independence and are much more willing to share data with a company that is working for them as their primary day job instead of selling seed, tractors or fertilizer.

Second difference – cost. The price of admission is reasonable and attractive. Rather than complicate things with a per acre pricing model or multiple tier pricing – FBN’s initial entry level product was rolled out to the market at a flat-fee of $500. Simple and affordable is always a good marketing strategy and FBN knew that in order to attract farmers in numbers they couldn’t discriminate based on the number of acres a farmer farms.

There is no doubt that as FBN grows in subscribers and capabilities there will be premium services that emerge. Even Henry Ford when he started out only offered one color of car – black! That soon changed and so will what is possible to do with data as both FBN and farmers continue to discover what is possible and what is practical down on the farm.

TFBN Dashboardhird difference – your data is shared anonymously among your peers – aka fellow farmers – and not among biased industry insiders. The peer-to-peer model of sharing data makes much more sense than the highly filtered data that might be published by private seed, fertilizer and iron companies as part of their marketing efforts.

This sharing of unbiased agronomic data is actually nothing new. In reality, a similar model has been around for years and it is called the university Extension system. As part of the original research mission of the land-grant universities, Extension was the vehicle used to deliver the discoveries of such research to the farmer. In some ways what FBN is trying to do is become the modern-day digital equivalent to the original extension system. However, instead of research being bottled up in tiny university test plots now with FBN every farm and every acre becomes its own test plot.

What is the true power of FBN? That remains to be discovered. But it will likely be discovered by farmers who are able to directly glean unbiased, affordable information from people they trust – peers who have actually tilled an acre of land and seen how things work in the real world and not just in some petri dish. Up until now some growers have been reluctant to share their data with others because they didn’t share the same values and goals. FBN has finally given farmers a choice and a voice when it comes to looking at the world of Big Data.

For more information on FBN and how to start learning ways your farm can benefit from the knowledge of fellow farmers contact Steve Cubbage at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or via email at: steve@primemeridiandata.com.  Prime Meridian is also promoting FBN to its customers by including a free one-year FBN subscription for any farmer that signs up for its Precision First data management plans.

 

Mavrx – Crop Imagery Meets Crop Scouting

Crop Imagery Meets Crop ScoutingIn the world of precision agriculture, it seems that the number of crop imagery companies is multiplying faster than rabbits at the local county fair.

There is one company, however, that is looking to be different by putting a high-tech twist on crop imagery by mixing it with crop scouting. The name of this company is called Mavrx and it is taking its hybrid concept to the air in full force for the 2015 growing season.

Using in-season images to aid the actual boots on the ground task of crop scouting is nothing new. However, the way Mavrx does it – and the product that it delivers — is what sets it apart in this increasingly crowded field.

The secret sauce of Mavrx is that it takes the images and identifies the hotspots and trouble spots within a field before they are delivered to you. Mavrx automatically tells you where and how important these areas are before you get there. You know exactly how many acres the problems may be, plus the severity of the problem and the calculated economic impact to date. Think of it as your own John Madden chalkboard for crop scouting.Mavrx Screenshot

Crop scouting has traditionally been a very labor intensive task requiring not only long days but also a high-level skill set. The problem is that no matter how long the days are, there just aren’t enough hours to cover more acres and be effective.  Plus, in the past most of the scout’s time was spent in the field looking for problems instead of solving them.  You might have been within 50 feet of a growing aphid infestation, and you would miss the whole thing. These issues are going to be a bigger problem as farms and fields grow in size, while the number of veteran agronomists is not keeping pace.

Mavrx seeks to leverage such agronomy expertise by providing a product that allows agronomists and producers to monitor more acres more effectively.  This is accomplished by streamlining and refining the delivery of the product to the end-user.  Mavrx knew the first issue with past imagery products is that by the time the picture of the field had been taken and delivered, the value of the image had already become stale.  Mavrx seeks to deliver a fully processed product with 24 to 48 hours. You are personally notified by email and text when a new image is ready for you in your personal cloud account on the Mavrx web-based dashboard. Think of it as Instagram for your farm’s fields.

Mavrx’s intent is to make their online dashboard your in season flight control center where you can view changes within a field during the season. You can also integrate Mavrx imagery with other key GIS data to help provide underlying clues as to what is causing certain issues within a field, such as data to help identify troublesome wet spots and historical yield maps to see if such problems have appeared in the field before in similar locations. As a bonus to users, Mavrx is providing multiple years’ worth of field imagery from LandSat satellite imagery library to establish historical markers when evaluating current high-resolution imagery.

Mavrx on Desktop, Tablet and MobileThe functionality of the Mavrx imagery doesn’t stop at scouting. That is only one of the many possible uses for the imagery. When delivered to a user’s dashboard account, the imagery is already geo-referenced and in the correct file format (such as a GeoTiff) so that it can be easily exported to other popular GIS programs (like SST, SMS and MapShots) to create in-season prescriptions for nitrogen, or even targeted pest management.

One of the final feathers in Mavrx’s cap is the diversity of the imagery that you get from a flight. Currently, most of the imagery is flown by manned aircraft, with many of them equipped to capture regular, NDVI and also thermo images simultaneously.  Unlike many other providers who only provide one image type, with Mavrx you literally get three for the price of one. That’s a big deal: each image type has certain advantages. Veteran agronomists say that NDVI is better at telling them whether plants are hungry and need nutrients like nitrogen, while thermo does a better job of detecting whether plants are sick. Many times a thermo image can detect stress days before a regular or NDVI image.

By delivering imagery with a purpose Mavrx has set itself apart in this crowded field. Agronomists and producers who want to learn how Mavrx can help improve their field scouting and in-season crop management contact William Underwood at Prime Meridian at 660-492-5626 or via email: william.underwood@primemeridiandata.com. For more details on Mavrx check them out on the web at: www.mavrx.co.

Farmobile: Making Precision Just Happen

Successfully getting data from the field, out of the monitor and onto the computer has had a less than stellar track record.

Making Precision Just HappenUp until now most precision data has seemingly suffered the same fate as all those socks that get lost in the dryer.  Over the years millions and millions of acres of incredibly valuable yield monitor data never made it that short distance from the machine shed to the farm office. And the problem has grown exponentially as more and more field operations began to be recorded. Most of that data didn’t make it either.

You would have thought that there were mountains as tall as Mount Everest or rivers as wide as the Amazon in that short but “long” journey.  For whatever reason, important digital data is not making the successful trek to the place it can actually have some value and do some good.

Thankfully there is hope on the horizon.  One company called Farmoblie is seeking to drastically change how all this data from combines, sprayers and tractors gets from point A to point B. Not only is Farmobile seeking to change the way that data is transferred but they are intent on altering the way it is visualized, utilized and ultimately who’s in charge of the data at the end of the day.

Farmobile solves the original problem of transferring data by making it just happen – wirelessly. Although wireless data transfer is no longer new, what makes Farmobile different is the fact that the company’s wireless solution is practically colorblind when it comes to what it can connect to. Companies like Raven, Ag Leader, Trimble and now even John Deere all have brand centric solutions that only play nice with their hardware.

Farmobile Device

Farmobile Device

The way Farmobile works to gather and display data is what sets it apart from the competing pack of wireless solutions that have appeared so far. Instead of just transferring a single file of yield data from the combine monitor at the end of the day, Farmobile’s device plugs into a machine’s information nerve center called the CAN (short for Controller Area Network). By plugging directly into the CAN, Farmobile can record and decipher any information from any sensor on the machine itself.  That means access to much more data regarding what’s going on in the field. Plus, it can be viewed anywhere in the world in real-time on your mobile device.

So now instead of just recording and transferring a layer of yield data, the Farmobile user can see all the performance points of the machine while it is still in the field.  You will see things like yield and moisture, but in addition you will now see ground speed, engine rpm and other critical information. With such features Farmobile has become more than just a way to transfer data. It has become a logistics command center for your operation, tracking vehicles and employee efficiency.

Farmobile also addresses head-on one of big questions on the minds of many producers these days – where does all this data go and who’s in charge of it? That’s an area where Farmobile is getting two thumbs up from producers and the agriculture community.  All the data streaming from the field goes directly into your secure cloud account to do what you want to with it. Farmobile calls it your Electronic Farm Record (EFR) Vault and the data is yours and only yours to direct and dissect as you choose.

The current capabilities of the Farmobile device are likely only the tip of the iceberg.  Coming soon will be the ability to push and pull critical files to and from the cab of the Farmobile equipped machine. This means that the device can literally act as a wireless USB storage device and things like variable-rate prescription files can simply be delivered with a tap on the app.

Will Farmobile be the Apple iPhone of the precision ag world? That’s a tall order but it certainly has a robust feature set that makes it worth taking a look even today. Technology aside, Farmobile seeks to be the solution to centralize the “grower’s” data from multiple sources in one place. If it can do that plus solve the age old precision problem of getting yield data out of the combine and onto your computer – then we finally have our precision game changer we’ve anxiously been waiting for.

To find out more about Farmobile or even request a free on-farm trial, contact Steve Cubbage at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or via email: steve@primemeridiandata.com.  Also visit Farmobile’s website for technical details and current pricing – www.farmobile.com.

A New Year’s Resolution – Put Precision First!

New Year’s Resolutions.Precision First New Year's Resolutions

Yes, they are all paved with good intentions. Trouble is most of them don’t make it past the month of January.

The same could be said of most grower precision agriculture programs. Most either fall victim to the mood of Mother Nature or the mood of the grower themselves.  If its a good year with good prices then collecting things like yield data are considered worth doing because you can always show off the results to the guys down at the coffee shop. However, throw in a bit of adversity and many start abandoning their “good” precision habits, and data collection becomes nothing more than an afterthought.

To address this “binge diet” phenomena within the culture of precision agriculture Prime Meridian has developed a grower-based precision program called Precision First.  Think of it like your own personal precision trainer designed to get your farm’s precision program back in shape.

To illustrate just how badly “out of shape” most farms’ precision programs are you have to look no further than the struggles Monsanto ran into when they first introduced their FieldScripts program.  One of the things Monsanto asked their most “elite” set of growers being considered for the new program was for 3 years worth of basic yield data.  The reality was that many of their best growers could not even produce 3 years of data – good, bad or otherwise.

Many of those “elite” growers probably had latest combines decked out with yield monitoring and autosteer.  Half-million dollar combines and 20-plus years after the invention of the yield monitor and we still can’t come up with 3 consecutive years of yield maps! Yield maps are the kingpin of almost every precision program and yet growers still treat them as “extra credit” that’s just not worth doing.

Precision First is based on the premise that growers will never get past first base if they do not execute the fundamental tasks necessary to build their precision data portfolio.  Bottom line, they’ve got to collect data not just this year or maybe the next – it has to be EVERY YEAR – even if its a bad one.  Plus, it needs to be GOOD DATA – and that means fields are not named 1, 2 and 3 and corn varieties are not referred to as A, B and C!  If data is to be respected and have value then i’s must be dotted and t’s must be crossed.

Collection of yield and planting data should be required homework for every farmer on every field.  Precision monitors should be prepped with proper field names and seed varieties before ever going to the field in the spring or fall. Your planter and combine get pre-season checks before going to the field – why not your precision equipment?  That’s what Precision First does – it makes sure your precision homework is done and you’re ready to graduate to the next level to tackle things like variable-rate seeding and in-season nitrogen monitoring.

The true message of the Precision First program is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Precision First is your farm’s tape measure.  If you don’t have even the most basic data, you can’t even start to measure your farm’s performance.  Such performance may not have mattered when corn was $7.  Note to self – it matters twice as much when corn is $3.50 a bushel.

For more information about putting Precision First on your farm in 2015 contact Justin Ogle at 417-667-4471 or justin@primemeridiandata.com.  This is one New Year’s resolution that we can help you keep!  Put Precision First in 2015.

MyPrime goes primetime in 2015

Prime Meridian – “Your Home for Precision Ag Data.” 

Providing an independent and secure home for growers’ data has been the mantra of Prime Meridian from day one.

Well, in 2015 the growers and retailers served by Prime Meridian are getting a brand NEW HOME.  Its called MyPrime and its built in the cloud so you can take it anywhere you go. Whether its a pickup truck or a spreader truck – your information is there with you.

In simplest terms, MyPrime is your very own personal dashboard that allows you to do the business of precision at both the farm and retail level.  One of the central features that is unique about MyPrime is that it gives a grower his very own precision safe deposit box where he can store his original precision data.

Ready for Primetime in 2015The precision safe deposit box is important because with MyPrime a grower can effectively share data with other members of his Precision Ag team (fertilizer dealers, seed dealers, crop insurance agents, agronomists) without ever giving away or letting go of his original data.  Its sort of like making a copy of the deed to your land but never giving away the original.  That’s just one of the things that makes MyPrime so attractive to growers.

For retailers, MyPrime takes precision services into the 21st century with a customizable and brandable online store. Retailers can offer their traditional in-house precision services like soil sampling and yield mapping. Plus they now have access to advanced services like variable-rate irrigation and imagery – all through MyPrime’s single dashboard digital storefront.

Think of MyPrime sort of like a precision Amazon.com.  Amazon may source some of its items from its own warehouses and other items from third-party vendors.  That’s similar to what MyPrime does. It allows retailers to incorporate existing services into their online store, but it also allows them to offer a more complete portfolio of precision products without having to reinvent the wheel or adding additional overhead.

Streamlining the deployment of new precision services is also one of the key reasons retailers are signing up for MyPrime. One example of added efficiency is the digital scouting program ScoutPro, which can now be synchronized with MyPrime so that all a grower’s fields are automatically added to his ScoutPro account.  Plus, all his digital Scout Pro reports are directed right to a grower’s MyPrime safe deposit box.  This is just one example of many integrations that will help simplify deployment of precision technology both at the retail and farm level.

Finally, MyPrime is unique because it is more of a precision “social” program than it is a GIS or glorified version of Dropbox.  MyPrime connects people.  It is a precision bridge that provides a common platform for all those people that serve a grower with precision services.  It connects retailers, agronomists, soil samplers, applicators and, most importantly, growers through a common online portal.

Until now there has not been a common platform that allows the transparency of what takes place at the retail level and exposes it to the grower.  It allows everyone to be on the same page singing from the same hymn book.

To discover more about how to get your business or farm on MyPrime in 2015 contact Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or by email at: justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Start building your precision services and your precision team in 2015 with MyPrime. Complementary 45-day trial subscriptions are available upon request.

A Season to Remember

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year.

God Bless.

That’s our simple message to all our customers, growers and friends.  You are all part of our extended Prime Meridian family and we want to thank you for your business but most of all for your friendship and trust in us.

The year of 2014 was not only a great year for Prime Meridian but I’m hoping it was for many of you as well.  In many places it was a record harvest as corn yields notched personal bests for many growers. Just one of the reasons 2014 will be a fond memory as we head into 2015.

Of course, 2014 had its sobering moments as well with the high commodity prices of the past few years falling back to earth.  But as they say – that’s farming! Farmers adapt. They innovate. They persevere.

Agriculture is unique.  The Good Lord every year gives us a Mulligan – another opportunity. Another chance.

At Prime we see every season as a chance to get better by learning from the one’s previous experience. That’s why its important that we as growers and agri-professionals need to answer the simple question of whether we’re farming for a season or a lifetime?  The answer is in our DNA. Always keep your eyes looking just a bit over the horizon.

Howard Buffet wrote a great book on this very subject.  Its called Forty Chances and its based on the premise that most farmers only get about 40 harvests in a lifetime. It challenges the reader of how you’re going to tackle life, your business and your legacy. This is a great book and a perfect last minute Christmas gift to give to others or even yourself.

So may the Lord bless you and your family this holiday season and we’ll see you over the horizon in the year 2015.

Merry Christmas from Prime Meridian

Billions and billions of bushels fit right in your pocket

How much grain can you fit into your pocket?

Thanks to new mobile and wireless technology introduced by a company called OPI-integris the answer might just surprise you.  To paraphrase the late astronomer Carl Sagan – “billions and billions.”

So what is this new technology and what does it do?

It’s called OPI-Blue.  And in simplest terms, its an app that runs on your Apple iPhone or iPad that gives you a direct link to what’s going on inside your grain bins.  Pretty cool, huh?

OPI BLUEGrain bin management technology can have some very quick paybacks for producers depending on the size and characteristics of their farming operation.  Perennial poor practices like the over-drying of grain, rising energy costs and larger and larger bin sizes being deployed on farms can lead to greater chances of grain spoilage – all good reasons why this technology is such a great idea.

The 3-D graphics of the OPI-Blue app gives you a 360-degree transparent view of temperature, moisture and capacity levels within the bins and it makes you think you’re playing an Xbox game instead of managing grain quality.  But the real bonus is the real-time email and text alerts you get on your mobile device whenever things aren’t going right. For the first time you can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to grain quality.

The OPI-Blue App on the iOS mobile device simply connects to a solar powered wireless node mounted on top of your grain bins. The node is the connection point for the multiple sets of digital temperature and moisture cables that constantly monitor every inch of grain inside the bins. With your mobile device and the OPI-Blue App you can connect directly to the OPI-Blue wireless node via its built-in Wi-Fi hotspot or link it to your internet router so you can monitor grain conditions while on the beach sipping one of those umbrella drinks.

So why talk about grain bin technology on a post that’s normally reserved for topics like “Big Data” and “Precision Agronomy”?  The answer is simple.  Caring for a crop doesn’t stop at harvest.  And it also underscores the fact that the farm is very, very quickly becoming what is called the “Internet of Things.”

We spend so much time and effort to get as many bushels into the bins as possible. However, we frankly aren’t very good at taking care of them after they get there.  It’s the number of bushels and their condition when it comes out that you get paid on.  That’s why this subject is so important – especially with the new reality of lower commodity prices – every bushel counts.

That’s why Prime Meridian has teamed up with its sister precision ag hardware solutions company Record Harvest to start offering OPI-Blue to growers and ag retail grain and seed companies.  For more information please contact Steve Cubbage at 417-667-0220 or steve@primemeridiandata.com for your OPI Blue demo and a free cost savings analysis for your farm. Also check out www.OPIBlue.com.

Being able to check your bins from the beach – now there’s an App for that!

Priming Yourself for Variable-Rate Irrigation

Fertilizer does it.  Seeds do it.  Why not water?

To date precision agriculture has focused its cost saving variable-rate technologies on major crop inputs like fertilizer and seed.  Ironically, the most important and precious resource needed by any growing crop is water.

Variable-rate irrigation technologies have by no means hit the mainstream as many producers do not even fully know what it is or what it can do for them.  That may have to change.

Aqua Prime Irrigation ImagePumping water is expensive and its not getting any cheaper.  Plus, Mother Nature isn’t helping the situation as headlines about drought continue to spread across the country.  Some towns in Texas have less than a 90-day supply of water.  California is the driest its been in over a 100 years.  And in Nebraska, some irrigation water districts have now placed new limits on the amount of water that can be applied in a single crop year.

Part of the problem of implementation comes back to the old conundrum between the chicken and the egg. Deploying VRI on a field with a center pivot requires upfront the collection of some very specific precision field data such as detailed soil electro-conductivity (EC) maps and also ultra-accurate topographical information. Then if by chance they do have such information, many growers’ existing center pivots may not currently be equipped with technology to actually implement a VRI prescription.

In order to make it easier for growers to get started with VRI, our company Prime Meridian recently launched its new AquaPrime service.  We’ve teamed with a software company called PCT out of Australia that allows us to create very specific water application maps based on the soil and terrain characteristics of the irrigated field.  In turn, those recommendations can be uploaded to a variable-rate equipped center pivot system where water can be varied by sector or zone depending on the pivot’s capabilities.

VRI has many benefits beyond just water savings.  It saves energy – lots of it.  In fact, many electric companies are now starting to look at possibly cost-sharing the retro-fitting of existing systems with such VRI technology.  Regardless of such incentives the technology is ready for the mainstream. It is important that growers start preparing today because there’s a lot of precision work to be done in the fields before turning on this technology called VRI.

For more information or to schedule a free farm review about VRI and to learn more about Prime Meridian’s AquaPrime irrigation solutions, please contact Steve Cubbage at 417-667-4471 or email:  steve@primemeridiandata.com.