Category Archives: Precision Products

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.

What Does Netflix and Drone Data Have In Common?

Drones are the current hot commodity in the precision agriculture world. In fact, many growers and ag professionals are acting more like a kid on the night before Christmas – they can’t wait to get their hands on one.

But what happens the day after Christmas? Will the precision ag crowd still be as attached to this technology or will it become just another discarded toy in the precision toy box?

The greatest threat of turbulence to the agricultural Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market is not further FAA regulations or issues regarding individual privacy. The biggest issue is the data – the sheer volume of the data that is being collected by all those flights. How do you process it?  Where do you store it? And the biggest question very few have thought of is – how to upload it to the web.

Ag Eagle UAV

The answer to this issue may be similar to what a movie rental company did to rent DVD’s for those who lacked “good” internet services. That company was Netflix and their service was simple. They’ll send you your favorite movies to watch in the mail. When you’re done just drop them back in the mailbox and they’ll send you the next movies on your “must watch” list.

Those flying agricultural UAV’s face a similar dilemma. Lot’s of data and limited internet bandwidth in rural areas.

That’s why we at Prime Meridian have just introduced a new service called Precision Pixel Express which allows you to drop your day’s worth of flights in a pre-paid UPS envelope where they are sent to a high-speed upload center for processing. Your data is immediately processed and is viewable and downloadable through an online cloud service called MyAgCentral.  Your raw and processed data along with your data storage device is then also returned to you.

Stitched Collage Photo

The fact of the matter is that the UAV’s used for serious agronomic purposes take hundreds of infrared “snapshots” as they fly over a field. One UAV flight over a single 80 acre field can generate nearly 1 gigabyte worth of image data. In order for those images to become a whole picture of that field they must be woven together by a sophisticated software “stitching” program.

Many UAV buyers were told that they could “stitch” their own images on their own PC. This is true and can possibly work on a small scale. But the reality is that “processing” those images from that 80 acre field will probably take between 1.5 to 2 hours to stitch together on your own PC. That doesn’t even begin to count the time to geo-reference the images which is necessary in order to create a GIS layer to share with other mapping programs or create fertility recommendations.

That’s why, unless you have IBM’s “Deep Blue” supercomputer in your garage not many agricultural UAV owners are likely to chain themselves to their PC to make maps of fields flown. However, because of the lack of access of high speed Internet out in the country many thought they did not have a choice.  Now they do.  For more information on Precision Pixel Express and Precision Pixel imagery processing services, please contact Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian by calling 417-667-4471 or email him at justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Who knows? Maybe with all that extra time you can sit back, relax, pop some popcorn and enjoy a movie!

There’s An APP For That! Prime Meridian Offers Digital Field Scouting Reports

When Prime Meridian first brought its multi-year precision data packages to market nearly 2 years ago we did something a little groundbreaking.  We decided that for any qualified client that signed up for one of our Prime Packages we would include a free Apple iPad tablet.

What we discovered was that delivering digital information via 3-ring binders should have been ditched a long time ago.  Our clients fell in love with receiving digital precision information digitally.  Imagine that?

But what we’re finding out along with the rest of the agricultural world is that these mobile devices are more than a digital one-trick pony.  Not only are they good at receiving and displaying digital information but they make pretty awesome field data collectors as well.

ScoutProScreenShot

There are a lot of great agricultural apps out there but one in particular caught our eye this spring and we’d like our retail partners and grower clients to give it a spin this growing season.  It’s called Scout Pro and what’s different about it is that it does one specific task very well – field scouting.  In fact, it is so specific the company offers separate apps for scouting corn and soybeans.

Up until now there has not been a really robust, full-featured scouting application that took full advantage of the power and simplicity of the new mobile platforms like iOS or Android.   What makes it so different?

1) Just a few touches and flicks through the app will reveal a rich multi-media library with almost every plant specific pest or disease you can think of.  Just identify, tag and touch and everything is geo-referenced and synced back to an online database where all data is sorted by field boundary.  Not sure of a particular pest?  Just snap a pic with you mobile device and it gets geo-tagged to the field and shared with key advisors.

2) In addition, to collecting data Scout Pro digitally disseminates scouting reports that look like works of art compared to their previous hand scribbled paper counterparts.  Plus, reports can literally be sent when exiting a field instead of having to sometimes wait days for a written report.

3) The final and most important perk we see with the Scout Pro app is that all the data once synced with the database is exportable to other key GIS packages.  This is critical as scouting data needs to be married with other real-time field information like variety and seed population information and yield maps and fertility data.  Wouldn’t you like to be able to relate yield loss in a field to insect damage?  Better yet wouldn’t you like to know which variety of corn was more susceptible to things like green snap?  That’s the exciting power of this app.

It is for these reasons Prime Meridian is looking to integrate the Scout Pro app and the data collected into its multi-year Prime Packages’ offerings.  It certainly is a natural fit and since you’ll have the free iPad anyway, you might as well take it everywhere you go – including to the field to scout bugs and weeds!

Want to learn more? For more information on getting set up on Scout Pro or its cost, please contact Justin Ogle or Steve Cubbage at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471.

Moving Beyond the Iron to Precision Data Services

AgLeaderYieldMonitorIron dealers were there at the beginning of precision agriculture. For many, the piece of precision hardware called the yield monitor started this whole technological revolution in agriculture. Today, it has become integrated into machine as just one of the hundreds of sensors that make up a modern combine.

Yield monitors, planter monitors, sprayer monitors all should be the “domain” of the iron dealer. Because of that fact, machinery dealers are now being faced with whether or not to be more than just a “seller of iron” when it comes to precision agriculture. A recent forum by Farm Machinery magazine at the Ag Connect conference in Kansas City took a look at where and how machinery dealers should position their businesses when it comes to the business of precision data services.

View the full article, “Data Management: Waking the ‘Sleeping Giant’ in Precision Farming,” which features an interview with Steve Cubbage of Prime Meridian, by clicking here.

Drones and Precision Agriculture: The Sky is the Limit

Autosteer literally changed the face and direction of precision agriculture. That whiz-bang technology came about because once highly sophisticated military technology was commercialized. Just take a look at what has happened. Tractors and combines now roll off the production line complete with GPS from the factory just like it was as common of a technology as AM/FM radio.

Now another military technology is about to infiltrate precision agriculture. Last week the Wall Street Journal took a look at drone technology and how it could change the agricultural landscape when it comes to managing crops in the future. I had a chance to chime in on what it might mean for our industry and I believe we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Pardon the pun, but in this case I really do believe the sky is the limit! What do you think?

View the full Wall Street Journal article, “Drones Hit New Turf: U.S. Farmlands,” by clicking here.

2012 Drought Will Change the Precision Agriculture Landscape

The drought of 2012 will leave a lasting impression on a new generation of farmers. It will change farming in profound ways – ways in which we do not yet realize.

When the dust has finally settled on this year’s harvest, the rains return and the cropinsurance checks are written, change will be in the air come 2013.

Possibly one of the most overlooked changes could come within the industry of precision agriculture itself. It is my contention that this year’s drought will change precision ag more than any one outside event in the last 10 years and quite possibly the most since satellites starting orbiting the Earth.

Why? How? What is this guy talking about?

Well the federal crop insurance system is about to write some of the biggest crop insurance loss checks to producers – ever!  The federal government is also broke – nearly $16 trillion in debt. It also just so happens that this “weather” event aligned when Congress is in the process of debating the next Farm Bill.

Clearing the future hurdles of compliance and claims for government programs and insurance will require new heights in the level of documentation. Electronic production records produced by the computers in the field during planting and harvest will become mandatory. So quite simply that yield monitor with no GPS isn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. Neither is the pocket paper notebook logging where you changed seed corn varieties.

Crop insurance auditors are going to ultimately require “real-time” data. USDA offices will move toward this for reporting as well. We’ve already seen the movement toward such “electronic” reporting within the industry and this drought is only going to accelerate those moves.

Like it or not, precision agriculture is about to become a government mandate. Are you ready? Is your farm ready? No one knows what the weather will do next year or the year after that but requiring more precision electronic documentation is a 100 percent probability.

To ensure accuracy and consistency in your precision ag data Prime Meridian offers reporting compliance through its multi-year Prime Packages program.  For a program that costs $2 to $6 per acre annually it literally pays participating growers back in spades – in good years – or bad.

Crop Sensing About to go Viral, GreenSeeker Handheld Only $495

Set your phasers to stun!

Producers, crop consultants and fertilizer dealers get ready — Trimble’s Ag division just launched a new product that would make Captain Kirk proud.  If nothing else it opens a whole new precision ag technology for mainstream agriculture.

What is it?

It’s a new handheld “GreenSeeker” crop sensor – it quickly and easily measures the health of your crop and provides instant feedback with a click of a button.  GreenSeeker technology is nothing new in the industry but its benefits were not widely known outside the “academic” and “agronomy” circles. Part of the reason for this was cost – it was expensive – costing nearly $5,000 just for a portable unit and nearly $25,000 for an “on-the-go” sprayer unit.

At its $495 price tag it is sure to change the marketplace and the minds of producers when it comes to this technology. Quite simply, this now should be a throw in the pickup seat agronomic tool that every farmer and every crop scout should have. If you have a moisture tester to test grain samples at harvest then why shouldn’t you have a crop sensor to determine the nutrient needs of your crops when they are still growing?

Think of it sort of like an oversized glucose meter for your nitrogen dependent crops like wheat and corn. Trying to determine the “N” needs of a crop is a fast-moving target. The success rate of nailing the N rate ahead of time is somewhere between the odds of winning the PowerBall lottery and pinning the tail on the donkey blindfolded. Not good.

With thousands and thousands more acres of wheat to be planted this fall following another short corn crop the need for N management will be critical. We already saw what excess N left over from a poor corn crop did to wheat last year. Farmers following their gut with normal top dress practices found come harvest they were picking up downed wheat with their combines at a breakneck speed of 1 to 2 mph. Bottom line – lost bushels and thousands of dollars of wasted fertilizer. Makes a $495 handheld look pretty cheap!

For more information about the new GreenSeeker handheld from Trimble contact Steve Cubbage or Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian to learn more or order yours today.

Record Wheat Crop Falls Victim to Too Much of a Good Thing – N

A strange sight began appearing in many wheat fields of Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri this past spring. No…they were not alien crop circles but they certainly looked like it!

Instead it was many, many acres of downed or lodged wheat.  This year’s wheat growing season evolved into the perfect storm that set the stage for this phenomenon, but the single greatest culprit may have been too much nitrogen.

The issue had its beginnings last summer as a corn crop wilted under the worst drought south of I-70 since 1980.  What was left behind was thousands of acres of crop insurance worthy corn and excess nitrogen left over that was never used.  Many of those same acres got planted to wheat and no one knew just how much residual N was left come topdressing time in the spring.

At the end of the day come harvest time these pockets of wheat were on the ground and serious money was left on the table because of it.  It was not uncommon that downed areas were making 10 to 20 bushels less than the wheat right beside it.  For growers that experienced this it was in some ways a double-whammy because not only did it take bushels off the top end off an otherwise outstanding wheat crop but it also meant they probably wasted fertilizer dollars for nitrogen the crop obviously didn’t need.

Talk about kickin’ a guy when he is down!  Pardon the pun.

The truth of the matter is that much of this could have been avoided with the use of new precision agriculture technology called real-time variable-rate application sensors.  The most common name in the industry for such sensors is GreenSeeker.  GreenSeeker is just one of the names of players in this space. There are others such as Crop Circle (OptRx) and CropSpec are also players in this space.  They may be better known by the precision hardware companies that represent these names – Trimble, Ag Leader and TopCon respectively.

Whatever your brand preference the concept is the same – sensors coupled with GPS provide instant feedback of plant health as you travel across a wheat field applying N.  This means you now can vary the rate more precisely to give the plants what they need not what the seat of your pants tells you.

Even in “normal” years this technology has shown to yield about 5 bushel more per acre and net a $14 per acre advantage over doing it by the seat of the pants method according to a University of Kentucky study.  There is no doubt this year those numbers would have been dramatically higher for many of the wheat growers across the Heartland.

To learn more about leveraging this technology also in corn, check out an agronomy brief from Pioneer Hi-Bred by clicking here.

We’re here to help! Inquire about this technology by contacting Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian (justin@primemeridiandata.com or 417-667-4471) and see how real-time VRA technology can be incorporated as part of the Prime Packages precision management program.

 

New Web Reseller Locator: Find the ‘Prime’ Nearest You!

What many people may not know is that Prime Meridian has over 30 qualified reseller locations throughout the Midwest.

Prime Meridian has made it easier than ever to find your nearest reseller of its precision agricultural data services with its new online Reseller locator. Simply go to www.PrimeMeridianData.com and click on the NEW “Find a Reseller” link under the Reseller’s tab. For the direct link, click here.

Powered by Google Maps the new Prime Meridian Reseller locator allows you to search by zip code or by city and state. Just click on the Reseller pin on the map and complete contact information will pop up on screen.

“We’re excited about being able to bring this informative interactive feature to our website,” says Steve Cubbage, president of Prime Meridian. “People know about our services because of our website but they probably didn’t know that they’ve got Prime Meridian resellers literally in their own backyard.”

Prime Meridian offers many of its individual or bundled data services packages to ag retailers and ag service providers to help streamline, enhance and ultimately complete their precision services portfolio. Click here to get a full run-down of Prime’s services.

“Every retailer on our map is serving their customers in new and better ways because of Prime Meridian’s complete offering of precision services,” says Cubbage. “We believe that agronomy is local but precision agriculture is universal. Through the Prime online site and the web-based services we’re bringing the two together easier than ever before.”

To learn more about becoming a Prime Meridian Reseller check out the Reseller Requirements.