The previous few years have seen manufacturing firms bounce aboard the digital or precision farming prepare with guarantees of how their varied apps and techniques are going to rework the grind of milking cows or rising crops.
Most of the merchandise are certainly spectacular, however the precise take-up by farmers, right here in Eire not less than, has not been fairly so dramatic, though the sudden enthusiasm for satellite tv for pc steering as fertiliser costs doubled has expediated the method.
Nevertheless, as all the time, there are the pioneers who admire the potential of recent applied sciences and eagerly undertake that which is accessible for their very own scenario.
One such Enterprise is the Flynn household farm of Swords Co. Dublin, though it is perhaps finest described as a collection of farming operations which gel collectively to create a powerful firm which continues to develop,
In all, there are eight members of the family concerned within the administration of the varied entities with the principle thrust of the enterprise being that of rising early potatoes.
The potatoes are grown, marketed and distributed by themselves beneath the model title, Paud Flynn & Sons with the produce being bought by means of impartial retailers all through Eire.
The Flynn fleet
When they don’t seem to be rising potatoes they’re rising cereals, each on their very own floor and as break crops for different vegetable producers within the space, thus they don’t farm a hard and fast space, it varies from 12 months to 12 months.
To provide some thought of the dimensions of the operation, they’ve a fleet of 16 tractors that are virtually solely John Deeres, though a few older Massey Fergusons nonetheless pull the irrigation hoses across the fields.
Managing this fleet is simply the form of job that John Deere has catered for in its software program choices, which the corporate refers to as its Good Farming suite.
To the newcomer, the proliferation of varied units and techniques on the market in the marketplace is little greater than a jungle of confusion.
The producers should carry a number of the duty for this for they’ve tended to hurry forward forward with all the most recent gizmos with out pausing to elucidate the general plan.
Satellite tv for pc navigation is first step
There may be, fortunately, creeping into the fray, a recognition that we aren’t all software program engineers and John Deere, for one, is beginning to rationalise its strategy and current precision agriculture as a course of quite than a right away repair.
In its easiest type the elements of good farming could be divided into two, objects for gathering and transmitting knowledge, and objects for computing and displaying knowledge.
On the core of all techniques of no matter make is the World Navigation Satellite tv for pc System (GNSS) receiver, also known as GPS, though the American GPS system is now simply one among a number of satellite tv for pc arrays enabling steering.
It’s this unit which fixes the tractors place at common time intervals and this types the framework from which all different knowledge is hung.
John Deere calls its satellite tv for pc receivers Starfire, that are demountable items that find onto the roof of the tractor. They’re additionally the objects which can be susceptible to be stolen, until locked away at night time.
Coping with the information in precision farming
This primary time and place knowledge must be processed, recorded and displayed, which is the job of the quite misleadingly named ‘display’. It’s higher regarded as the central processing unit with integral show.
The display is the in-tractor interface with the software program, and for a lot of farmers it could be sufficient to have the GNSS receiver and the display for all the essential duties are lined by them alone.
If data are to be stored, comparable to utility charges, then they could be downloaded onto a USB stick for transferring to the farm PC.
The subsequent step is to eliminate the USB stick and transmit the information in actual time to the cloud from the place it may be downloaded to PCs, mobiles and even different tractors, and that is the place the JDLink steps in, it’s a two-way radio hyperlink to the cloud.
Having arrived within the cloud it turns into a part of a rising pool of details about the tractors and the farm itself.
From this pool, info could be then extracted and utilised in no matter method the farmer, or these he has agreed to share the information with, require.
Much more to return with precision farming
To allow this to occur, it must be organised and managed, a operate carried out by the John Deere Operations Centre, the place the operations are these of the farmer, not John Deere.
The Flynn fleet is absolutely kitted out with the entire system and every machine is fitted with a Starfire receiver and JDLink when working within the area, sending real-time knowledge to the cloud the place it may be accessed by any of the household at any time.
Working all of it is Niall Flynn who is a superb advocate of the John Deere set up. He notes that they’re already discovering it of nice use in managing the farm, however he believes they’re nonetheless solely scraping on the potential.
Precision farming is, he stated, one thing that must be adopted slowly, nice issues could be achieved with it, but it surely doesn’t occur in a single day.
Naturally the large objects in fleet administration are gas consumption and idle time; these are simply calculated and in contrast, enabling tractors to be allotted to the duties the place they’ve proven the best effectivity.
But Niall is already going past these fundamentals and is in search of different methods to make use of the data being amassed over the seasons.
Soil compaction is one vital parameter the place he has discovered that precision farming could make a distinction.
The fields on the house farm at the moment are precisely mapped and are primarily based on a 24m tramline spacing, a spacing which could be precisely repeated every year.
By doing so, compaction is confined to the identical wheel marks which has led to the soil turning into hardened in these strips.
That is clearly not good for progress, but when the harm is restricted to those sacrificial traces each season, then machines can get onto the sector sooner than would in any other case have been attainable and the realm in between stays uncompacted and fertile.
This operates on the tractor degree, but Niall has been in a position to establish different areas of compaction again within the workplace by means of analysing the hyperlink arm place of a tractor with a subsoiler.
As a subsoiler is drawn by means of the sector it should rise barely when encountering hardened soil and it’s this motion which is recorded and when displayed will present up areas of better resistance.
Naturally it really works finest if the sector has a constant soil kind, but it surely has been in a position to present the presence of previous tramlines and Niall intends to make use of this instrument to scale back total soil compaction going wherever the system identifies it.
Precision farming right here to remain
For the Flynns, the John Deere Precision Farming set up is proving itself a useful instrument in managing the farming operations.
The household has taken it wholeheartedly on board and it has turn out to be an integral a part of the enterprise.
Drilling down into the element of each farming operation is not going to be for everyone regardless of it being the optimistic situation painted by the suppliers of the techniques now in the marketplace.
But, simply because precision farming might have been oversold to a sure extent, it doesn’t imply to say that it’s not with out its advantages or ought to be dismissed as a gimmick.
It a query of beginning with the fundamentals and discovering what is helpful to every farm and constructing upon these options.
Rising accuracy by means of satellite tv for pc navigation and autosteer is a begin, however as Paud Flynn & Sons are discovering out, there’s a nice deal extra it might probably do as farmers turn out to be accustomed to its workings.