CONNECTED FARM SIMPLIFIES DATA MANAGEMENT
Brad and Todd Stephenson of Crossroads Family Farm have utilized precision farming systems for over 15 years. During that time, they tried various brands of GPS receivers, lightbars, and in-cab displays to reduce skips and overlap. Like most early adopters, they experienced both success and failure. Brad states, “There is no doubt that auto steer and GPS allowed us to cover more acres in less time, but most companies ignored the data management piece. We wanted to make timely informed decisions with our data.”
In the spring of 2012, Crossroads Family Farm was introduced to Trimble’s Connected Farm™. Connected Farm is an integrated operations management solution that combines hardware and software to increase efficiency and improve decision making. “We cover thousands of acres in seven counties, so you can imagine how hard it is to manage data and make it useful. Timing is everything when some fields are 50 miles from the office,” says Brad. To assist with data management, Crossroads started with Office Sync. Office Sync provides wireless data transfer between the office and field using a cellular modem called the DCM-300. Cellular options of Verizon and AT&T are available through Trimble. "Using wireless technology for data transfer was a huge time saver by allowing our office staff to receive the information at the end of the job, which was not possible using USB flash drives or memory cards," says Brad. Having the data quicker allowed the farm to find sensor miscalibrations, reconcile inventories, and update accounting records for landlord billing. The farm also uses Farm Works™ Mapping software to view maps and print numerous field reports – an important piece of the Connected Farm.
Crossroads equipped their Challenger tractors with Trimble’s FmX® display, Field-IQ™, Autopilot, and the all-new Vehicle Sync. Vehicle Sync utilizes the same DCM-300 modem used for Office Sync and RTK corrections. Instead of transferring data to the office, Vehicle Sync shares information from vehicle-to-vehicle. This is especially handy when the farm uses two planters in the same field. Todd explains, “If planter 1 enters the field and sets the A/B guidance line, planter 2 can later join the field and utilize the same guidance line from planter 1.” Sharing guidance lines wirelessly prevents using a USB drive to physically exchange them from vehicle-to-vehicle. This technology can be priceless during the busy planting season.
Another important feature of Vehicle Sync is the sharing of coverage maps. “If planter 1 farms the headlands first, planter 2 doesn’t have to worry about over seeding in those areas because of the shared coverage map. Since both planters are using Trimble’s Field-IQ and Tru Count clutches, the sections are turned off automatically when driving over the applied area, which saves seed costs,” says Todd.
The farm also utilizes prescription maps for variable rate application of seed and fertilizer which the farm estimates a savings of 8-10% on inputs. Prescription maps can be sent wirelessly from Farm Works Mapping to the in-cab FmX display via Office Sync. Todd states, “Trimble’s Connected Farm is very powerful and we recommend it to other farms that struggle with data management.”
For more information about the Connected Farm, please click here.