Tech Tuesday

Of Farm Corn Yields and LightSquared

Text service will track your corn yield in season and the folks at LightSquared want to see that comment period extended.

Predicting corn yields throughout the season on your farm might just be easier this season and you can get the information texted right to your phone…daily. While you might not want to know how your farm's corn is doing daily the service does offer some intriguing features. And there is both a free, and a paid service.

Developed and commercialized by Purdue Research Park affiliate Advanced Ag Solutions LLC, the system takes a range information including vairiety of seed, soil type, weather data and other limiting factors and predicts your corn yield.

For the free service, you'll get an alert about your county's standard practices, which includes the average soil type, seed variety and rates, and planting date. Paid subscribers get customized information about their fields and a website login to view daily updated information and a visual representation of the information overlaid on a Google map, according to Darryl Starr, founder of Advanced Ag Solutions.

The program - called Optimizer 2.0 - pulls information from a range of sources and organizes them into a database. Soil data, data about farmers' fields, seed data from different hybrids and weather data are in the mix. And the system can also receive information from farmers that will further fine-tune the output.

When you do sign up, you'll get a text message confirming your registration that will also have a link to a mobile website where you can enter more detailed data about your operation. Cost for the paid service is 80 cents per year for each acre enrolled for your farm. That's going to allow you to get some pretty detailed information.

Right now you're talking corn, but Advanced Ag Solutions is working on other crop models. You can sign up for a free test of the service by going to www.optimizer.co or sending your ZIP code to 765-560-4130. You'll get an immediate text message confirming the subscription, then you're off and running when corn pops out of the ground. And remember customary text and data rates may apply on top of any service costs.

It's an interesting idea, and one that may herald the beginning of a new way to get unique information about your farm.

Asking for an Extension

When FCC pulled the plug on LightSquared two weeks ago, the agency opened up a short comment period on their decision to deny a license to the company. Turns out LightSquared would like to see that comment period extended from March 1 to the end of March to give more proponents to weigh in on the issue. Not sure that's going to matter, there's already talk of other issues with the company that may jeopardize its financial health.

For now the comment period with the FCC is open, and the agency is looking for input on its decision to rescind its original waiver granted in January 2011 to allow LightSquared to operate. Remember, the key condition of that waiver was that LightSquared find a way not to interfere with GPS systems.

We'll update you on LightSquared in our news section as more information becomes available as this remains an ongoing situation.

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