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!