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Get Set for Success, Part 1: My Top Tips to Get the Most From Yield Monitoring

I attend a lot of ag expos and field days, a lot of ag-tech conferences and tradeshows. Though those events keep me away from home more than I’d like, I love each opportunity to connect with farmers. I’m always reminded that there’s something special about people who commit their lives to this industry: farming might not be the most lucrative or the easiest business to be in, but it sure draws people…

Solar Sensors: A Less Stressful, More Consistent Way to Plant and Harvest

Mickelsen Farms in Idaho Falls, Idaho keeps five eight-row planters running around the clock to get their 10,000 acres of potatoes into the ground. Frustrated by inconsistent emergence, they opted to give sonar sensors a try on their planters two years ago. My guess? A decade from now, pretty much everyone is going to be following Mickelsen Farms’ sonar sensing lead, and lots of farmers are going to be using sonar sensors…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Maximizing Potato Yield Starts at Planting

Improved planting technology is coming to a potato field near you. Here’s why you might want to be on the leading edge of these technologies. Uniform crop emergence is key to optimizing field management all season long. Plants that emerge consistently allow hilling, spraying, irrigation and harvest to occur at the right timing across the entire crop, promoting healthier plants, optimum tuber set and more efficient harvest. Achieving emergence consistency depends on…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

3D Bin Mapping: The Future is Now

We’ve all heard it said that knowledge is power. When it comes to storing potatoes, knowledge translates to something equally important: dollars. Advanced harvest tracking and 3D storage mapping technology now allows accurate-to-the-truckload tracing of potatoes from where they were grown in a field to exactly where they are stored in a bin. There are all kinds of reasons why having at-a-click access to your potato pile’s side-map, top-map and every angle…

What’s Holding Up Yield Monitoring?

Compared to other technologies and equipment, yield monitoring is a relatively inexpensive way to get immediately actionable information about a crop field. Yet, uptake of the technology remains fairly low in potato fields. Why aren’t potato growers making use of the technology when it’s such a high value crop, the cost to add a yield monitor to an existing GPS/Steering enabled system is less than $10,000, and there’s plenty of technical and…

Sonar Sensors Shine at Harvest

By necessity, farmers are fixers, solvers and constant innovators. Day in and day out, they analyze their farms’ needs, innovate solutions to countless challenges, and dream up ways to make their operations better. So, while I’m always impressed, I’m never surprised when a producer takes an existing technology and sees its value in an entirely new way. Such is the case with sonar sensors, originally designed to control boom height on sprayers….

Overcoming Stagnating Yield Needs to Start With Producers

For the past three decades, potato yields in Eastern Canada have been falling worryingly behind those of other regions. In New Brunswick, average yields have gone up just 1.4 cwt/acre per year since the early 1980s, compared to about 4 cwt/acre in Alberta and Manitoba and at least that high in the U.S. In order to remain competitive in today’s global market, eastern Canadian producers need to offset their rapidly increasing input…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Low Investment, High Return Makes Yield Mapping Easy Math

With among the highest input costs and some of the greatest potential returns of any field crop, potatoes offer the biggest bang for one’s yield mapping and precision management buck. Yield maps are not just an intellectual exercise in raw data; they actually map dollars and cents. A yield map breaks a field into visible areas of higher and lower productivity. Looking closely at each area, a grower can start to figure…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Variable Rate Potato Production = More $ in Your Pocket

Yield- and soil-map based variable rate (VR) seeding and fertilizer management is gaining popularity in cereal, corn and oilseed crops. So far, it hasn’t earned as much traction in potato fields, both because many planters are not set up for VR tech adoption and because few potato growers monitor yield at harvest, a necessary step in VR input management. But, major changes are just around the corner. Today’s yield mapping and planting…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Technology and Innovation Starting to Solve Seeding Depth Challenges

Planting potatoes at a consistent depth is an important factor in achieving uniform crop emergence. Uniform emergence leads to improved crop input efficacy throughout the season and more consistent crop maturity at harvest. But, achieving consistent depth is often easier said than done: soil variation, areas of compaction, different moisture levels, and changing planter weight all make uniform seed placement challenging. Current planter technologies do a reasonable job in dealing with this…

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