January 25, 2023
Some growers attending the Ceres Solutions digital tech field day came a long way with one goal in mind. They wanted to see a spray drone operate. While it was only one of several futuristic technologies on display, it captured lots of attention, partly because it’s a technology that’s ready now.
“Our plan is to offer custom drone spraying for customers in 2023,” said Matt Clark of Ceres Solutions. Clark demonstrated the DJI T30 spray drone, sending it out on spraying missions. Despite spraying only water, the flights were realistic and showed what the drone can accomplish, Clark said.
This drone carries up to 8 gallons of spray, covering a spray width up to 29 feet. At an application rate of 2 gallons per acre, it can spray 4 acres per fill-up.
“We can change out batteries and have it up and going again in three minutes,” Clark said. The goal is to have multiple sets of batteries and run two drones at the same time in a field, he explained. He expects the technology to be a good fit for customers with smaller, hard-to-get-to fields and for spot-spraying assignments.
Here are other technologies that were highlighted at the field day:
Intelinair app. When Intelinair, now headquartered in Indianapolis, scouts fields for customers, it’s far more than just routine scouting. Spokespersons describe their service best as a source of automated crop intelligence, available all season long.
At the heart of the system are aerial flights over customer fields multiple times during the season, coupled with automated software in a format called AgMRI. You not only see what’s happening, but receive alerts when there are problems, and have access to in-depth information on each field.
Spokespersons at the Ceres Solutions field day demonstrated how to obtain information from a cellphone app. The Intelinair cellphone app is free to customers. Manage crops from wherever you are, whenever it fits your schedule. Learn more at intelinair.com and agmri.com.
CropX soil moisture probes. “We had lots of these installed in customer fields this year,” said Betsy Bower, an agronomist with Ceres Solutions. In fact, a CropX probe was installed in the 2022 Soybean Watch field. The grower relied on information from the probe to aid in finalizing irrigation decisions.
“We typically install them 36 inches deep,” Bower explained. “The first sensor is at 2 inches deep; then there is a sensor every 4 inches.”
Troy Jenkins, also a Ceres Solutions agronomist, noted that in addition to measuring soil moisture, the probes measure soil salinity. Besides installing the probes, the agronomists work alongside customers, educating them about interpreting data related to soil moisture. That includes understanding evapotranspiration and how it affects both crops and soil moisture, and knowing what’s meant by field capacity. See cropx.com.
Solinftec autonomous crop scout. Solinftec, with U.S. operations headquartered in West Lafayette, Ind., displayed its autonomous, robotic crop-scouting device at the field day. It travels on solar power through the field, collecting all kinds of information about everything from stand counts to insect, disease and weed locations.
Leonardo Carvalho with Solinftec said the company announced the latest addition to the scouting robot at the 2022 Farm Progress Show. It can now be equipped with two 20-gallon spray tanks and spray booms so it can spot-spray weeds as it rolls through the field.
This technology is ready for the field now. Carvalho expects to have 20 units in the Midwest and 10 more in Canada operating in 2023.
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