New tech helps tackle crop challenges

Beyond the tractors, combines and other big equipment, the recent LAMMA show, the UK’s largest farm machinery and technology exhibition, saw the launch of some innovative tech designed to enhance precision, accuracy and timeliness of field operations

One of the most notable current trends in application equipment is the creation of tablet computer-based controller software. This allows for finer, more accurate and more precise levels of adjustment and response to changing conditions, resulting in more targeted use of inputs as a consequence. LAMMA 2019 saw the introduction of further developments in this direction.

The power of tablet computing

Precision farming specialist Patchwork launched its latest ‘Black Box’ terminal, the Black Box Marine, at the event, designed to offer a combined guidance and rate control system for sprayers and fertilizer spreaders. Using an Android-based tablet, it harnesses Bluetooth connectivity to communicate between tractor and implement. This makes it possible to govern functions such as variable rate application of inputs, section control of spreaders and auto shut-off of sprayer sections or nozzles, to minimize input wastage. Data required for application is transferable to the unit via a USB memory stick or wirelessly, or can be up/downloaded to/from the Cloud via Patchwork’s Blackbox Core PC software.

KRM, which imports fertilizer spreaders from Danish firm Bogballe, also launched a tablet control system. Designed to work integrally with its Calibrator Zurf controller and utilizing a dedicated app which includes spreading charts and settings. Like many similar tablet systems, it is being pitched as a universal alternative to using ISOBUS-based ‘plug-in’ technology to link tractor and implement. Again using Bluetooth to relay data between tablet and terminal, it’s possible to control functions such as guidance, auto shut-off, section control and variable rate application.

Protection of the soil

Other device-based app developments aimed at enhancing arable productivity included the TLC Plus, from tyre maker Trelleborg. This compares current tyre pressures with those best suited to the tractor weight and application, and set when the tyres were fitted. The system alerts the operator should a pressure deviation occur, allowing it to be addressed in good time before field damage can occur. The firm also revealed more about the ongoing development of its ConnecTire technology, which monitors pressures, temperatures and slippage using rim-and carcase-based sensors. Data is then transmitted to the app via Bluetooth or wireless. In this way the number of machine passes over the field can be tracked and reduced to minimize compaction.

Monitoring and recording weather data

French firm Sencrop unveiled its ‘Connected’ weather station system, with rain gauge and wind-speed gauge elements. It records rainfall, temperature, humidity and wind speed and transfers the data using wireless technology to a phone/tablet app.
 
Sensors can be placed where the user desires, and there is a screen ‘dashboard’ to indicate their location and the key data from them. Alerts can be set for thresholds of factors such as temperature.

Keeping tabs on grain moisture

New from BDC Systems was a remote moisture monitoring system for grain in the process of being dried. Designed in conjunction with moisture meter maker Sinar to minimize the risk of over-drying.

Sampling units are fitted to the wet and dry elevators of a drying system, and samples monitored via a moisture probe, with the resulting readings showing the percentage moisture of each. The data can be viewed remotely via an app, and/or the system can be linked to the company’s dryer control system. Retrofitting to existing grain systems is possible.

 

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Tablet computer-based controller software allowing more precise levels of adjustment and response to changing conditions was a theme at LAMMA
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Precision farming specialist Patchwork launched its latest ‘Black Box’ terminal, the Black Box Marine
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KRM, which imports fertilizer spreaders from Danish firm Bogballe, also launched a tablet control system
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Other device-based app developments aimed at enhancing arable productivity included the TLC Plus, from tyre maker Trelleborg
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French firm Sencrop unveiled its ‘Connected’ weather station system
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New from BDC Systems was a remote moisture monitoring system for grain in the process of being dried