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Published September 03, 2013, 10:49 AM

Into the future

Precision agriculture, a relatively new but growing area of farming, will receive a great deal of focus at this year’s Big Iron Farm Show.

By: Will Powell, Agweek

Precision agriculture, a relatively new but growing area of farming, will receive a great deal of focus at this year’s Big Iron Farm Show.

“The products that have evolved within the past two years are unreal, and the more stuff to come is only going to make planting and everything that has to do with farming easier,” says Justin Brantner, who beta-tested Premium Ag Solutions’ Delta Force system in 2012.

Brantner, as a major supporter of precision agriculture, will be promoting Delta Force at 2013’s Big Iron event.

“Normally, you’ve got a 36-row planter that’s considered, you know, a planter,” Brantner says. “What we like to think is if we take that 36-row planter with Delta Force, we’ve got 36 planters. Because with Delta Force, we control the individual row-by-row, so each is controlled differently, whether it’s on the wing, whether it’s in the back ... so we’re able to keep a consistent depth no matter what you’re planting.”

Brantner says one of the primary advantages to Delta Force is its adaptability. Delta Force isn’t planter-specific, so it has the potential to work on almost any planter on the market. Currently, Delta Force has been adapted for use with some John Deere planters, Case and Kinze planters.

“Every seed is what we’re trying to control; not as an acre, not as a field; we want every single seed as its own plant, so we want to control every single one by itself ... we want every space the same, we want every ear the same.”

Brantner considers Delta Force to be the next step in precision ag’s evolution from Air Force, an air-controlled precision system.

“It’s a fully pneumatic air system, with load pins that read how much weight we’re carrying and how much weight is pushing up to, in turn, put the right amount of air to try and keep it consistent up and down the field,” Brantner says.

“As you get to Air Force, you can see the variables up and down the field based on your soil types, based on everything, and what the Delta Force does is be able to react faster.”

According to Matt Carlson, a veteran agronomist with DuPont Pioneer, precision agriculture has come a long way from its auto-steering technology beginnings. Carlson has seen the mapping aspect of precision ag technology build atop itself and become integrated with external computer devices, such as iPads.

For example, DuPont Pioneer’s Field360 Select is a web-based subscription service that aims to aid farmers by allowing them to compare their field data with regional and global agronomic data. Assisted by such precise up-to-the-minute data, farmers can make faster, more informed decisions about where and how to plant their crops.

Carlson says grid mapping and control applications of the past have played an important role in the capabilities of Field360 Select.

“As far as our precipitation and GDU (growing degree unit) app, I don’t think there’s a lot out there like that,” Carlson says, adding that its main application is fertilizer and feed.

Carlson, Ag Leader Technology’s Luke James and Plains Grain & Agronomy’s Travis Messer will answer questions on Big Iron’s “What’s Next for Precision Agriculture” panel discussion. Carlson also will actively promote Field360 and the benefits of precision ag at Big Iron.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more people using it than there currently are,” Carlson says about the future of precision ag. “There’s a lot of things coming.”