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National Farm Machinery Show

Progressive Dairyman Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 06 May 2014

During February, all was quiet at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. The racetrack was covered with snow with nary a hoofprint in it. But across town at the National Farm Machinery Show, the race for precision agriculture was heating up.

“Precision” is the word being used liberally in farming trade shows throughout the country, but nowhere was it more prevalent than at the National Farm Machinery show. Precision data, precision planting, precision guidance systems, precision spraying, precision application, precision margin tracking, precision farm and soil analysis.

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Remember how we used cell phones as big as shoe boxes just a few years ago? And it took nearly 20 years to turn it into a smartphone. Those same technology-driven inventions are flooding the ag markets now in ways you and I once never knew were even on the horizon.

These advances aren’t taking decades like the phone did. Since the basic technology is already available, it’s just a matter of building on that and fine-tuning it to fit agricultural applications. And no seed, no soil particle will be left unturned in its wake.

What’s driving it? New technology equals new toys? Yes, but mostly no. With the average age of farmers rising (more than 56 years) and those same farmers sometimes struggling to use their smartphones, newness may offer some excitement but it doesn’t seem to be driving the market.

The driver is really market competition – finding ways to farm smarter, which increases production and secures profit margins. “Smart progress” is the new catch phrase.

Evidence of the precision-farming principle was displayed in hundreds of trade booths where farmers had engineered, manufactured and were marketing their own inventions. That facet of farming ingenuity has been around for centuries, with farmers finding creative new and improved ways to accomplish their work. It certainly has not diminished, but the newer technological ingenuity has absolutely exploded the market.

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Most of the ag technology advances aren’t even new any more and were introduced two to five years ago, but nearly every vendor came out with a “new and improved” model, new enhancements or new data management options for this year’s show. They’re also finding ways to simplify the labor required for inputs – streamline, streamline, streamline.

While navigating the new technology options can be overwhelming, the market for these products is very robust. Crop prices have held strong over the last few years, yet every farmer knows that it will again cycle and profit margins will flatten.

So producers seem to sense that now is the time to hone production practices and invest in “smart progress,” which is why crowds of thousands turned out to learn more about the products available for precision farming.

While we can’t introduce every new product introduced at this year’s show, we’d like to bring you a few that caught our eye.

Titan introduced its F-series radial implement tires

Goodyear FS24
Titan
(800) USA-BEAR

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Titan introduced its F-series radial implement tires to replace high-speed bias implement tires. The F-series uses lower air pressure to reduce heating, with 52 to 78 psi, whereas the previous bias tires ranged around 100 psi. The new radial construction has a larger contact area, round shoulders and is puncture-resistant.

Danuser T3 Driver

Danuser T3 Driver
Danuser
(573) 642-2246

Digging holes is what Danuser does best, and their latest skid-steer attachment is a T-post driver that drives T-posts, tent stakes, signposts and pipe up to 3 inches in diameter, striking six hits per second. The top of the post is contained in the machine, preventing the post from kicking out.

640 Drive Bluetooth-based module

640 Drive
640Labs

Let’s say you have one brand of tractor, a guidance system from another manufacturer, and a field mapping system from another source – maybe a university. How do you coordinate that information? 640Labs, a start-up company in 2013, has a 640 Drive Bluetooth-based module smaller than your fist that plugs into your existing data port (CANBUS port) in the cab.

All data transports through the module to store data in cloud-based storage in a comma delimited value format, which is compatible across all data systems. This reduces data entry getting information from one system into another system.

All data is time-stamped and geo-tagged, and immediately accessible. The module can be given to custom operators or applicators (with their permission) so the farmer has immediate access to harvest or application data from others, as well. Every tractor made in the last decade has a standard J1939/ISOBUS interface.

Polydress O2 Barrier 2-in-1

Polydress O2 Barrier 2-in-1
Poly Excel LLC
(612) 280-8391

When most people cover a silage pile, they use two layers of sheeting – an oxygen-barrier sheet and a standard sheet. The Polydress O2 Barrier 2-in-1 comes as one sheet, combining both oxygen barrier and standard sheeting, which translates into only one installation trip over the pile.

This product involves combining the benefits of a true oxygen barrier with a standard sheeting. It minimizes the oxygen transmission rate by a factor of six to 10 times compared with basic silage covers.

Once applied to the pit or pile, the moisture from the forage causes separation of the thinner poly amide layer, which then sucks down to the surface of the pit while the oxygen is utilized in fermentation. The outer layer continues to act as the protective cover, protecting the pit while the oxygen barrier lowers the amount of oxygen capable of penetrating through to the forage surface.

Novacat S12 Mower

Novacat S12 Mower
Pottinger
(219) 510-5534

New in 2014, this is the largest working width-mounted mower combination in the world at 36.74 feet. Yet, it can run at 15 to 18 miles per hour. The mower boasts 25 percent more output with 25 percent less diesel consumption with 160 horsepower requirement and a three-point hitch. They don’t make them any bigger.

Digi-Star Model GT 460

Model GT 460
Digi-Star
(800) 225-7695

Digi-Star has taken their grain weighing system and refined it for the forage producer to eliminate yield guessing. The GT 460 weighs forage on wagons and trucks in the field for accurate yield records, documenting each and every load from each and every field. It also features preset maximum weight limits to avoid overloading trucks or axles (not that you mind paying citations, of course).

Kile Clear View Caps

Kile Clear View Caps
Kile Machine & Mfg. Inc.
(509) 569-3814

Check oil levels at a glance in idlers, rollers, gaskets and plugs by replacing OEM caps with translucent molded-polymer caps. These UV-protected caps are resistant to extreme weather conditions and allow operators to view oil clarity easily. Caps come in sizes to retrofit most makes and models. Simply use these to replace the factory-installed caps.

Haybuster CMF-430 Vertical Mixer

CMF-430 Vertical Mixer
Haybuster
(701) 252-4601

No newcomer to the vertical mixer industry, Haybuster introduced a mid-sized single-auger mixer, geared for the smaller or mid-size dairy and beef markets. The mixer features a 3-foot or 4-foot conveyor extension with a 42-inch door opening. It features a four-point scale system with Digi-Star monitor.

Garden of No Weeden Re-usable Shield

Garden of No Weeden Re-usable Shield
Garden of No Weeden
(770) 403-1429

I admit, I had a personal interest in this product. It’s not produced by a major manufacturer – just a hobby gardener who got tired of weeding. He invented plastic snap-together shields, which are angled to catch moisture and funnel it to the seed row while suppressing weeds.

The shield is also corrugated to keep moisture flowing off sagging tomatoes or melons. It’s a re-usable replacement for the black plastic we like to put down in gardens. Genius. (Would make a great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift – or gift to your favorite editor.)

Danuser Pallet fork with grapple option

Pallet fork with grapple option
Danuser
(573) 642-2246

It’s the opposable-thumb concept. Picking something up with a pallet fork is great, but what if you could secure the load with a top-pressure grapple? Better stability, right? That’s Danuser’s concept. With a maximum grapple opening of 55 inches, the grapple can also be locked and stored out of the way for normal pallet fork use.

NMC-Wollard, Inc. NMC-2850

NMC-2850
NMC-Wollard, Inc.
(800) 656-6867

The NMC-2850 articulated loader has a lift capacity of 2,850 pounds, with a dump height of 97 inches, and boasts an 84.5 hp Kubota turbo diesel engine. Articulated steering helps reduce turn ruts, with wheel steering and joystick bucket control. This new size expands NMC’s loader lineup.

Trimble TMX-2050 Display

Trimble TMX-2050 Display
Trimble
(408) 481-8000

This Android-based high-definition touchscreen display has tablet-like interface to move and turn widgets on and off, much like a smartphone. It boasts wireless data transfer (as long as you have good cell service) for field-to-office data exchange. The unit itself can be transferred cab-to-cab with quick-mount and single-cable connection.

It’s more than guidance and mapping; it also has steering, boom height control, sprayer section control and variable rate control capability. You can view local weather forecasts, monitor fleet vehicles, locate other vehicle operators and view their activity, and even check commodity prices. Manage your whole farm from the cab.

Pro-till
Degelman
(800) 667-3545

Called the “residue-killing machine” this high-speed (10 to 14 mph) cultivator is ideal for seedbed preparation in no-till rotations. It offers rubber suspension disc arms for rock protection. At 32,000 pounds, the weight equals better soil penetration. Independent wing sections allow contour angles to ride flexibly over hills and valleys. Wings fold for a linear tow package.

NG Plus Planting Unit
Monosem
(913) 438-1700

No grease zerts. Yes, you read that right – no grease zerts. The NG Plus planter has cast-iron construction and wider, shorter, parallel linkage that creates more down pressure to cut through field residue for no-till planting. With patented seed-singling accuracy, the planter depth can be fine-tuned as it wears. The new eight-fold design has not been previously available and is available for the 2015 planting season.

Pottinger Terradisc 6001

Terradisc 6001
Pottinger
(219) 510-5534

New in 2014 from Pottinger is a compact disc harrow that helps manage corn stalk residue and cover crops. It buries crop residue while preparing a shallow seedbed. Minimum tillage depth is 1 to 5 inches, allowing the operator to run at 8 to 12 miles per hour, making it an efficient seedbed preparation.

Some farmers will likely use these behind combines in the fall, reducing compaction and increasing efficiency. The wheel-over, harrow fold provides stability for road transport.

Nuhn Lagoon Crawler

Lagoon Crawler
Nuhn
(519) 393-6284

The Lagoon Crawler looks like an overgrown hobby toy, which may be why it stopped traffic at the show. The amphibious design of this remote control lagoon agitator combined with four-wheel steering and hydraulically driven tires makes it easy to maneuver.

Some manufacturers of remote-driven lagoon agitators used to make models that would climb out of the lagoon on their own power, rather than being lifted out, but because the lagoon banks were muddy and steep, they often became stuck and performed miserably at best.

Nuhn has developed a seven-nozzle agitator designed for 5-acre to 10-acre lagoons. If you get stuck on central islands, the hydraulic lift raises the Crawler 5 feet above hovering height. PD

lynn jaynes

Lynn Jaynes
Editor
Progressive Dairyman

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