A New Home for Precision Ag Explained

Posted June 7, 2016 by HTS Ag
Categories: Uncategorized

I wanted to give everyone a heads up, this blog has moved!  We have now incorporated it into our website, and it can be found at http://www.htsag.com/blog/

 

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Top Five Reasons to Upgrade Technology Instead of Equipment

Posted February 3, 2014 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ag Leader, auto steer, automatic shutoffs, autoswath, data management, GPS, HTS Ag, Precision Agriculture, yield monitors

5.  Ease of use

Often times we can make a piece of machinery easier to run by implementing technology.  Auto-steer is a great example of this.

4.  Compatibility

Some of the older systems in sprayers, combines, and tractors are no longer compatible with today’s computer systems, making it hard or impossible to capture the data from them.

3.  Less down time

Did you know technology can help reduce down time?  This one is dual-fold, as newer technology reduces the potential for down time from electronics and offers quicker channels to help with remote support, but some technology can reduce down time of the machinery also.  Foam markers on sprayers and planter markers can cost precious hours in the field when not operating correctly, and guidance or auto-steer can reduce or eliminate this threat.

2.   Efficiency

Technology plays an important role in the operation’s efficiency.  Up-to-date technology can farther enhance this with remote support and remote file transfer.  Automatic shutoffs on your planter or sprayer will also increase the field efficiency of the machine, as will auto-steer.

 1.      ROI

No other place in a farm operation that I have found can you get a quicker return on your investment than technology.  Most every piece of technology we work with can pencil a return to you on paper, either through cost savings or increased yield, and sometimes both.

Tablets for Agriculture

Posted October 24, 2013 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ayrstone, data management, Facebook, Integris Advanced Grain Management, Precision Agriculture

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With a slew of new tablets hitting the market this week from Microsoft and Apple, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how this technology can be useful for farmers. I also have to admit that I fell into the hype and got the latest from Microsoft, the Surface Pro 2. I am actually writing this post while on the go from my new tablet, and am really enjoying how it works! I’m not going to start a debate about which tablet on the market is the best, because that ultimately depends on what you intend to use it for.  I will comment that Microsoft has done a really nice job with this new hardware and really streamlined the interface with Windows 8.1.
All that being said, it has me gotten me thinking about the functionality of using a tablet for agriculture. There are a slew of apps that have been released for several different things from checking the markets, weather, and a host of other things. For me, it is a really nice interface for staying connected to the world, and having access to whatever information I may need while on the go. I have a remote connection app installed for checking the grain managed by the Integris Advanced Grain Management system, and all the common ones like weather, markets, Facebook, etc.
Of course all of these things require some form of internet connection. Some of the tablets on the market have a cellular data connection built in, but I prefer to get my connection from an existing source to save on monthly charges. I use a couple of methods to connect depending on where I am and what I am doing. When in the field and close to home, I rely on my long range WIFI connection from an Ayrstone Ayrmesh hub, and when farther from home, I use a mobile hotspot function on my smartphone.
My question is, how many people are currently using a tablet in the farm operation, and is it for entertainment or an important tool in the operation. For me, it is an important tool! I would love your feedback in the poll below.

Where did you combine this morning?

Posted October 8, 2013 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ag Leader, Ayrstone, combine, data management, GPS, HTS Ag, Integra, Precision Agriculture, SMS, software, yield monitors

I haven’t had a chance to leave the office yet today, but I already have a map of where the combine ran this morning to get a sample and see how dry the beans are.  No, the combine doesn’t run itself (yet).  My uncle is there and ran a couple short passes to get a sample and test the moisture.  The beans were testing 14.8%, so he has shut down and we are waiting for some sunshine and wind to do its thing and we will try it again in a few hours.

harvest map

So how does all this work?

I have one of the AgFiniti pilot test units from Ag Leader in my combine, which allows for wireless data transfer through a USB WIFI adapter.  This small and inexpensive device plugs into my Integra display in the combine, and allows the display to use WIFI and upload files to Ag Leader’s cloud website.  You still have to provide your own source of WIFI, which can be done very easily over long ranges using a product like the Ayrstone Ayrmesh Hub.

I have set my Integra display to copy log files at shutdown, so as long as the display is in range of my WIFI source when it is turned off, it will automatically upload the log files to the AgFiniti cloud site, where I went to get the data and read it into my mapping software, SMS.

This type of real-time access to data in agriculture will change the face of how we conduct business, and make many decisions in my operation happen much quicker as we will have the data to make informed decisions.  I am very excited about having access to the data this quickly with no hassle.  This took no work at all from my uncle running the combine!  I will continue to share my experiences with this product as I use it this fall.

How does your Wifi stack up?

Posted September 25, 2013 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ayrstone, Uncategorized

As I talked about in my last post, I have been playing around with an Ayrstone Ayrmesh Hub, providing long range wireless connectivity on my farm.  This has proven to be a very cool product, giving me Wifi connectivity large distances from my house, but things weren’t quite so great when I first hooked it up, as it created some conflicts with the rest of the stuff I had already hooked up on my network.

Not being super tech savvy with Wifi, I got the chance to ask the guys at Ayrstone some questions, and in under 30 seconds they had already landed on the solution for my problem.  It seems that Wifi runs on different “channels”, and overlapping networks can cause problems.

For the simple minded like myself, think of this as a CB radio.  I know I will hear quite a few comments about how Wifi is nothing like a CB, but follow me on this for a minute and maybe it will help make sense to you, as this is how it clicked for me.  For those that have used the ancient CB radio technology like myself, you didn’t want to use a channel that was close to someone else that was using a CB, or the signal would “bleed” between the channels and create interference, making it hard for either of you to get a good signal.  For example, if you were talking to someone on CB channel 12, but your neighbor across the road was using CB channel 11, chances are neither of you had very good luck.  If one of you changed to CB channel 23, both of you could use your radios very well.

Turns out my problem was very similar in nature.  Living outside of town, I actually receive my high speed internet to my house with a point to point wireless connection.  When I first hooked up my Ayrmesh Hub, it was broadcasting back out on the same channel as the incoming signal, not only creating connectivity problems for my wireless devices, but actually taking down my internet to my house entirely!

Only after changing channels that I was broadcasting on did my problem go away.  Once the networks no longer overlapped each other, everything started working very well.  The guys over at Ayrstone pointed me to a program to diagnose this problem called inSSIDer.  Here is a link to the free software download.  As you can see in the screen shot below, it graphically shows the channel and strength of each network found, showing you when networks overlap.

inSSIDer

Once I could visualize how the channels were overlapping each other, the fix was simple.  Thanks again to some great support from Ayrstone!

Wifi in Agriculture

Posted September 11, 2013 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ag Leader, Ayrstone, Uncategorized

With the recent introduction of Agfiniti (see product info here) from Ag Leader Technology, there have been some doors open into the tech world, allowing for some great technology to cross over into agriculture that we previously have not thought of using on the farm.  One of these technologies is wifi, and being able to broadcast it for several miles from the home farm can open doors when used with the new technology from Ag Leader.

I have recently used a new product from Ayrstone, http://www.ayrstone.com/wp/, which will allow for a wifi signal to be broadcast several miles, and multiple of these units can be tied together giving a coverage range around 6 miles if using three of the Ayrmesh hubs.

Hub_outside_400_hi

These hubs will create a mesh network, and give wifi coverage across the entire area in between.  There are many uses for whole farm wifi coverage, and I will discuss more of those in future posts, as well as some of my experiences with this product on my own farm.

One of the really big advantages of this technology if your farms are close together is that you won’t have an additional bill from a cellular hotspot, and can utilize your existing internet connection from your home or shop.

These units are very low cost, and could even be used as a link to get internet connectivity from the house to the shop if the distance is just a bit too much for the standard wireless routers that many of us have experience with in our homes.

I believe that this product can unlock some incredible opportunities when put together with other emerging technologies in agriculture.  Look for additional information and uses in future posts, or contact me with any questions you may have about this technology.

Tired of down time from not having enough satellites?

Posted May 13, 2013 by HTS Ag
Categories: Ag Leader, Glonass, GPS, Iowa RTN

I spent some time today working with my new Geosteer on my tractor, and just happened to be looking at the GPS diagnostics screen when it dropped down to 4 available satellites and the PDOP shot to 50! For those of you that aren’t familiar with these numbers, we try to have no less than 5 satellites for steering, and would like to see the PDOP (Positional Dilution of Precision) at or below 5. Our team here at HTS Ag also started taking several calls at the same time with customers having problems with their systems not getting signal. This got me thinking about what I could do to make the system perform better, and Glonass came to mind. I started looking at some planning software to see how much of a difference it would make to add Glonass (for those that don’t know, this is the Russian satellite system) and was quite surprised at the difference of adding the Glonass satellites. Below are some graphs of with and without the Russian satellites, I’ll let you decide.

Here is the available GPS satellites for today in Council Bluffs, IA.

GPS visibility

Here is the same location and time, but with adding the Glonass satellites

Glonass visibility

Keep in mind both of these graphs are assuming good visibility.  In my case, my tractor was in the house yard today with some trees around, so it made things even worse.

Here is a graph of the DOPS from today as well, with GPS only.

GPS DOP

And here is the graph of DOPS with adding Glonass.  Notice the scale on the left side is different.

Glonass DOP

So, by adding Glonass to a receiver today, you would have kept your DOP below 4 the entire day.  Without it, it would have jumped above 10 more than once this afternoon, which means you wouldn’t have very good accuracy, if your auto steer even works!

Several of the new receivers can be unlocked to receive Glonass without any hardware upgrades – it is usually as simple as adding an unlock code.  Given the late planting season and limited window to operate in, this seems like a very good investment to me.