GPS Landforming - Precision Agriculture's New Frontier?
From AgPR.com News
Jonesboro, Ark.-- GPS Landforming is the latest precision agriculture tool to hit mainstream adoption by farmers looking to increase production and profits according to agricultural engineer, Dr Graeme Cox.
GPS Landforming is the reshaping of a fields topography to predesigned 3D surfaces using high accuracy GPS to control the blade height of the earth moving machine. It is typically done to improve surface drainage and water infiltration uniformity.
Davco Optisurface, who develop the leading 3D landform design software, OptiSurface Designer, have seen strong adoption recently as the concept catches on. Their software has been used to design more than 400,000 acres and that makes them the number one 3D landform design software according Arkansas based Global Sales Manager, Preston Marthey.
Based on Cox's experience around the world, here are the top eight lessons he has learnt:
- Water is king. Eighty percent of yield variability and profit loss is due to too much, or too little, water. Yield maps show this. Cox says, "Focus on optimizing water management first!"
- Ponding kills profits. If water is standing in your fields 24 hours after rainfall or irrigation, it is killing your profits. Cox warns, "Expect eight percent per day yield loss plus nitrogen loss, increasing pest and disease, delaying planting, spraying and harvesting."
- Subsurface tile drainage is good, but expensive. "Tiling," Cox says," typically has a lower return on investment (ROI) than GPS landforming and does not work well on heavy soils or those with limited elevation relief."
- Ditching is good. "But," Cox adds, "it can be a pain if they take out valuable crop area or restrict machinery access."
- Surface drainage and irrigation problems can be solved with GPS landforming at low cost. Proven in many crops and farming styles, irrigated and non-irrigated.
- Lasers are dead. They only work in a straight plane. GPS allows you to follow curved topography with curved design surfaces.
- Save up to 80 percent on earthworks and topsoil movement with OptiSurface designs and GPS machine control compared to other methods, Cox claims.
- Software is not equal. "Our competitors claim to have the same capability," Cox says, "But, they're weak imitators and inflate costs. For example, Trimble WM-Form produced one thousand percent more earthworks than OptiSurface on a recent drainage case study."