Agricultural Equipment Tracking with GPS Technologies

GPS technologies provides global traceability for agricultural equipment and vehicles. It is a productivity tool that previous generations of farmers could not even imagine. Here is an example of how GPS has revolutionized the basic task of planting.

GPS Agricultural Equipment Tracking for Greater Productivity

The technology for planting seeds in the ground changed very little from the early 1900s until about the year 2000. A tractor pulled a cultivator with sharp metal discs that made even furrows in the ground. Behind the turning discs, a hopper filled with seed dropped individual seeds evenly spaced into the furrows, and another cultivator behind the seeder covered them with earth.

This approach worked well in perfectly flat fields with uniformly rich soil throughout. But the reality of farming has always been that some parts of a field produce more crops than others. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology coupled with Variable Rate Technology (VRT) provides a way to account for differences in soil and moisture. Today’s farmers can program their planters to plant precisely the number of seeds they need for maximum yields in different parts of their fields.

GPS and VRT use several years of harvest data to make their computations. The first year a farmer commits to the system, she does GPS-enabled Yield Mapping (YM) as she harvests her crops. The combine (harvesting machine) has GPS-enabled technology that measures the amount of grain coming into the machine every few seconds, making a note of the GPS coordinates and recording grain moisture (which affects how much the grain weighs), elevation, and the variety being harvested.

This process creates a huge amount of data. After the field is completely harvested, the farmer downloads the harvest data into a computer program that creates a map that looks something like a weather map, with different colors for different amounts of crops harvested every 5 meters (15 feet). The map shows where the field produced more crops and where it produced less.

Farmers collect this data for several years to create a composite map of what the field is capable of producing. Then they will load the results of the program into the computer that controls the rate that the planter releases seeds, so it plants more seeds in low-producing ground and fewer seeds in highly productive ground.

Seed companies charge by the seed, so this kind of information can result in huge savings for the farmer. For instance, one soybean farmer who had been planting 145,000 seeds per acre to get maximum yields discovered he could get the same yields by planting an average of 129,000 seeds per acre, planting fewer seeds in rich soil.

Planting 145,000 seeds per acre on 320 acres requires 46,400,000 seeds. Planting 129,000 seeds per acre on 320 acres requires 41,280,000 seeds. The ability to use GPS and VRT saves the farmer the cost of 5,220,000 seeds, which cost about $2500.

Of course, none of this technology does any good if somebody steals the tractor.

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GPS Tracking Technology for Ag Asset Protection

Tractors are expensive. A 20-year-old 203-horsepower Case tractor, without cultivators or planters or GPS equipment, costs something in the neighborhood of $60,000. A 10-year-old 83-horsepower John Deere, not really powerful enough for working large fields, costs around $30,000. A new Massey Ferguson with GPS Technology has a base price of $207,000.

The equipment used with a tractor adds tens of thousands of dollars to the investment. A farmer with some technical skills, and most farmers have technical skills, can use the GPS on a planter to track the planter. But this only helps if the planter can be tracked with the tractor itself. Making matters worse for farmers, only about 15 percent of tractors are equipped with GPS at all, leaving them vulnerable to theft.

Agricultural equipment thieves usually can’t make a quick getaway. They have to drive through acres of farmland and miles of country roads to take stolen farm equipment to sell it. GPS tracking technology helps farmers keep tabs on their equipment 24/7, recording everywhere it goes, making recovery possible.

And at the very least, GPS tracking equipment will lower the cost of insuring farm machines.

Every tractor, combine, seeder, harvester, baler, trailer, plow, harrow, fertilizer spreader, ATV, UTV, and pickup needs its own GPS tracking system. Discreetly mounted where thieves won’t see it, GPS trackers provide constant location data to an app on the farmer’s iPhone or Android device, or to an asset tracking system installed on a computer. GPS Technologies makes sure that tracking devices and software are maintained in working order to protect every farm asset 24/7/365.

Even with great insurance, losing farm equipment to theft can be a financial catastrophe. Don’t let this happen on your farm. GPS Technologies can help you find exactly the right devices to keep your investments secure. Call us at (847) 382-5107 or request a quote online.