The beginnings of potato yield monitoring
In the early 90’s enthusiasm around precision agriculture began building as GPS started to become a viable tool for commercial use. One example of this was a collaborative effort between the USDA, Idaho National Engineering Lab, Washington State University, and HarvestMaster™, a small company based in Logan, Utah. This collaboration resulted in the introduction of a potato yield monitor to the industry in 1995. The hope was that the potato yield monitor would help farmers identify atypical areas in their fields by measuring and tracking the amount of crop harvested in specific areas. These early systems were exciting, but at the time, most growers didn’t have the tools to help them utilize the data. The industry as a whole needed to advance. To understand how we got to where we are now, we need to understand the history of precision agriculture as well.
Seventy years ago, the average farm was considerably smaller than what growers are working with today. The land farmers were working on was easier to understand, and yield-related issues could be identified quickly. With tremendous growth in commercial agriculture, farmers needed tools that would allow them to remain efficient. It wouldn’t be possible for today’s farmers to know their farmland as closely as farmers of the past without advancements in technology.
Rise of precision agriculture
Precision agriculture is the use of data and advanced technology in farming procedures. Using things like GPS tracking, sensors, self-driving farm vehicles, data collection software, and even robotics, farmers could manage huge quantities of land with ease.
Most of the early precision agriculture inventions implemented GPS. Among these were; GPS-guided unmanned tractors that let farmers be more accurate and efficient while planting and fertilizing, and Variable Rate Application (VRA), which allowed farmers to customize where they applied material and in what quantity rather than applying a blanket application over their entire field. The emphasis placed on GPS implementation in everyday farm practices paved the way for yield monitors. Not only could farmers use GPS to control their machines, but they could also use it to understand where they are in the field and organize data. Farmers can now tie so much data to a GPS coordinate, giving them the perfect picture of their farm.
The latest growth in potato yield monitoring
With the growth of precision agriculture and increased demand for fast, accurate data, farmers needed a reliable potato yield monitor to know what was working and what wasn’t and to strategize for the next season. Since the earliest days of agriculture, farmers have been experimenting to find ways to improve. With the larger farms of today, it is very difficult to know how those experiments work without a yield monitor as the final and most critical measurement.
As time has passed, potato yield monitors have continued to improve. The culmination of precision agriculture and advanced technology has brought tools like the Casma™ Yield Monitor to the market. Casma easily transforms raw data into usable information in minutes. Yield patterns can now be visualized and easily give growers a clear image as to what is working and what isn’t. Successful and problematic areas are easier to identify than ever, helping farmers know how to maximize productivity across more of their land.
Casma continues to answer the needs of its users as they evolve over time. HarvestMaster offers farmers a yield monitor that is more durable and rugged than ever. Accuracy levels are at an all-time high. With the boom in technology, potato yield monitors have improved their software as well, giving farmers a better user interface, nearly instant access to data, and new innovations to look forward to.
Taking the next step
While many may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of comparing yield maps to a variety of other maps (i.e. soil composition, ph, fertility, etc) to determine the best course of action, there are simpler ways to get big gains. Many successful growers go back to those fundamental types of tests by applying specific practices to portions of fields, documenting those practices, and using a potato yield monitor to observe the results. With each new test, new insights are gained, and farmers can further their knowledge and skill with each season.
These advances in precision agriculture will allow modern farmers to utilize technology that will allow them to get reacquainted with their farmland and reach new levels of success. Agricultural technology companies like HarvestMaster are working hard to help farmers capitalize on all the tools of precision agriculture.