Knowing Your Fields

your fields

Knowledge is the key to every decision in your operation

Equipment Needs to be Smart

Farming isn’t only about putting iron in the field to work the soil, plant the seed, and harvest the crop.  Farming is about all of that, but also about having knowledge of each process that is completed in that cycle; knowledge to know that each pass was completed without error, knowledge to help improve the next pass, and knowledge to improve next year’s crop cycle.  Knowledge starts by being provided accurate information about your field in a timely fashion so that you can make a change or correction now; finding out about an issue after losses or mistakes have occurred doesn’t provide you the ability to make a correction. Knowledge is also needed in order to make a correct decision in the next field that an operation is performed in.  Knowledge gained in field A in the morning can help us better perform that operation in field B in the afternoon.  Knowledge can also be helpful in giving us the ability to optimize the next pass across that same field.  Knowledge gained while planting can be applied in the sidedress pass.  Knowledge gained at harvest can help us better plan our fertility program and the planter pass, which is planning for the next growing season.



When planting, the yield potential of the seed is at stake.  The environment in which the seed is placed has a tremendous impact on what that seed will produce.  When it comes to knowledge of that environment, we need to have a command center where the data collected by sensors can be displayed in an easy to use, actionable way.  The 20|20 is just that; a way to see what is happening with the equipment and the soil as you make that planter pass.  The 20|20 shows maps to pick out trends in the field for making an adjustment right now, or for next year, and also shows metrics to pick up a sudden change that may be costing you.  The valuable data that is being fed into the display is coming from multiple sensors.

Seed Sensing

The seed sensor is providing information for the number of seeds planted per acre, as well as how well those seeds are singulated and spaced.  These three metrics are displayed on the 20|20 in order to help the operator make sure that each one is correct.  Sometimes dust can mess with the readings that a seed sensor sees because the dust is read by the sensor as if it were seed.  The WaveVision seed sensor eliminates this issue by sensing density of seed rather than just if a light beam is broken, and it eliminates the frustration that comes from dust blowing up the seed tube.


DownForce Sensing

Setting downforce is one of the most challenging things that a planter operator has to do; and typically, it was one of the things that was rarely paid attention to because there was not much information to set it correctly.  But it’s important!  Too little downforce in any part of the field and the seeds planted in that area will be shallow, most likely in dry soil which will lead to them emerging late and becoming weeds.  Have excessive downforce in parts of the field and the plants that grow in those areas will have stunted growth and lower yield as the plant’s roots struggle to grow through the tight soil.  Gauge wheels on the planter are a primary culprit of compaction creation- stopping once to spin the wheel to see if the downforce system is set correctly is not enough to ensure that every seed in that field is in the correct environment.  Downforce sensors that are connected to the 20|20 system allow the operator to determine if downforce is set correctly or if an adjustment is needed; and see changes to downforce that occur across the field.  The downforce sensor is measuring weight on the row unit gauge wheels- if there is weight on the gauge wheels, then the row unit is planting at the current depth setting and not shallow; hundreds of pounds being carried on the gauge wheels and an adjustment should be made to eliminate the compaction that is being created.  With the power of downforce knowledge in the cab, there is no more guessing.


Fertilizer Rate

Fertility application that is being made with the planter is being made to feed every critical nutrient the plant needs in it's young life.  The goal is that each seed has the prescribed amount of fertilizer, not some getting less or more than prescribed.  There historically has not been a great way to measure what rate is being applied to each row.  Visual sensors on the planter leave a lot of opportunity for interpretation and issues with accuracy.  FlowSense is a liquid flow sensor that plugs into the 20|20 system and measures the rate of flow on each row of the planter and displays it in the cab so that the operator can know if the rate that is prescribed is actually being hit, or if there is variability from one row to the next that needs addressed with a change to plumbing, pump, or orifices.  With FlowSense paired with the 20|20, there is no longer a guess as to what rate of fertility is being applied.


Soil Sensing

There are many ways to sense what a machine is doing, but what about the soil itself?  In order for a plant to thrive, it needs to have a great home to start in.  This home should be warm, moist, and free from residue that could harm the seed as it begins to grow.  This home also needs to be consistent for every seed so that each seed is able to have a great start.  That seed also needs fertility, and the amount of fertility needed is based to some degree on what type of soil the seed is placed in.  All of these attributes add up to allowing that seed and plant to thrive.   SmartFirmer is an in furrow sensor that firms seed as well as senses the furrow itself.  The most fundamental things that SmartFirmer is sensing is moisture and temperature- without these a seed cannot thrive.  If the operator sees too low of a moisture reading on the 20|20, he/she could make a depth adjustment to get a little more moisture for that seed.  SmartFirmer also senses residue and uniformity of the furrow.  Residue against some seeds but not others will cause erratic emergence and yield loss from plants not producing as much grain.  Something like a gauge wheel that is not tight against a disk opener could cause a shower of dry soil to come into the furrow, and SmartFirmer would have a low uniform furrow reading on the 20|20 alerting the operator to the issue on that row.  Not every area of each field has been created equal, nor is every field the same.  As there is variation within a field, that variation needs to be known in order to be treated in the way that maximizes the potential of that area.  Organic matter is a baseline measurement that indicates the productivity of a soil.  SmartFirmer measures organic matter and displays that data as you plant through the field, in real time.  The data can also be exported as a map that can be utilized to improve variable rate zones with real time, field wide data.  For growers who have wanted to try variable rate but haven’t due to cost, complexity, etc, the organic matter measurement can be used to vary the rate of fertilizer, seed, and even the hybrid that is being planted.  SmartFirmer allows the grower to try variable rate with the equipment that they already own.


Yield - The Report Card

Yield maps are meant to provide a report card of the field and all of the decisions that were made on that field.  If a yield map is not used to help with creation of zones or refining practices that have to do with managing spatial variability, then what need is there to actually have a map of yield?  Since the purpose of creating a yield map is to understand spatial variability, then it becomes imperative to have a yield monitor that is accurate in the sub acre zone down to changes occurring within feet.  Many yield monitors are unable to account for the changes that occur in small areas of the field and end up showing a higher yield than actual in low yielding areas and lower yield than actual in a high yielding area, causing the highs and the lows to become less apparent, leading to information that provides little value when being used for zone creation and decisions of how to treat the varying areas of the field.  YieldSense is the source of knowledge for yield variability within a field because it accounts for the small areas within a field that have highs and lows.  YieldSense uses a unique flow sensor position, a consistent clean grain elevator chain, and a grain property kit to account for changes in grain sizes, flowability, and actual flow of the grain to ensure that yield is accurate and that the knowledge gained from the maps can be used to make decisions about how to treat the zones of a field the following season.