Create A GPS, Precision Ag System With Off-The-Shelf Components

Getting started doesn’t have to be an intimidating chore, and the results could raise your no-till management skills to a whole new level of insight and profit.

If he can do it, so can you, no-tiller Brian Watkins says of his work in precision agriculture based on a global positioning system.

After graduating from Ohio State University, Watkins returned to the family farm in Kenton, Ohio, in 1983 and bought a computer to help track the no-tilling efforts. By 1995, he was using a yield monitor to create yield maps.

Despite the experience, he considers himself a no-tiller, not a computer expert. He hired help to set up an RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) global positioning system integrated with other computer hardware and software. He placed the RTK system for field mapping in the tractor he uses with his no-till corn planter. His combine and sprayer are fitted with a WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) GPS system.

“In the late ’90s, I hooked up with The Consulting Company of DeWitt, Iowa. They introduced us to the idea of making applied maps and marking inputs. We’ve done variable rate soybean seeding based on variable soil types. Last spring, we put on an RTK auto steering system for a corn planter because we also install our own drainage tile and we could use the RTK to create topography maps,” he says. “Although we’re not doing it yet, we also can use the RTK to control the tiling machine.”

Information Mapping

Watkins uses the GPS systems and related equipment to map his 5,00 acres by soil type, track all of the inputs and yields, evaluate the inputs and prioritize future cropping efforts…

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