Tuesday at the Farm Progress Show, Trimble announced two new enhancements to its Connected Farm solution, a collaboration tool which growers can use to manage data and share data with people who help them make better decisions.
"We're helping the farmer control the things they have power over and maximize their decisions on things that aren't controllable," says Mike Martinez, Connected Farm marketing director. "Where can I get all of this data, and how am I going to make sense of it, and start making some decisions? It's a platform to drive toward that strategy and put power in the grower's hands so they can make better decisions."
Connected Farm already included components like wireless data transfer, remote support, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and fleet management – vehicle-specific functions. The new applications, the farmer-focused Connected Farm Field and Connected Farm Advisor for the farmer's advisor, are more focused on field functions. This includes variable rate prescriptions, precipitation monitoring, crop health, and soil health.
Users can import data into the solution with the Connected Farm Scout app; Office Sync, Trimble's office to field wireless data exchange service; or the new File Sync utility that allows users to upload data from various industry in-cab displays via USB drive.
Better in-field decisions
With Connected Farm Field, growers can access the new color-coded RainWave Contour Maps, which Martinez says is similar to the RainWave single point virtual gauge, but "spread out thousands of times across any particular field. It's taking a map and showing the rainfall as it fell across that field."
It allows users to look at field-specific rainfall history in ten-minute increments – with blue indicating the most amount of water, and red the least amount, accompanied by a scale translating the color into inches. With this kind of information, Martinez says, producers can make those better decisions.
"Part of a field is orange. I got a half an inch of rain. But do you know if it fell over the entire 24 hour period or all in a 15-minute period?" he says. "That makes an impact of the decision to re-fertilize or re-spray if you so much rain came that whatever you applied washed off. These are field management tools to help make those day-to-day decisions."
Connected Farm Field users also have access to PurePixel imagery, which was announced earlier this year in June. While a traditional vegetative index provides a snapshot of variation in a field the moment it's captured, it uses the same scale from brown to blue in every image. Brown, which indicates the lowest amount of vegetation, could actually be a good number.
PurePixel uses a calibrated vegetation health index to associate an absolute value from 0 to 120 to a specific part of a field. "On a traditional index, it's always using the color scale. Here, it's only what's applicable," Martinez says. "It's really using only this part of the scale. It's not showing greens and blues if it's not performing to that index yet."
For the trusted advisor
The Connected Farm Advisor site looks similar to the Connected Farm Field site, but with some additional capabilities for working with multiple farmers and creating variable rate prescriptions. "An advisor is going to be looking at things like soil sample lab results, integrating that into the farmer's field, applying some formulas for variable rate, making adjustments and ultimately creating a variable rate map that he then sends back to Connected Farm Field so a farmer can load it and go make the application," Martinez says.
The advisor can also access grower information to help create prescriptions, but only with the grower's permission. The site will have a variety of formulas for different crop types for different regions to allow advisors to create a map.
"All of these services, VRA maps, RainWave, and PurePixel crop imagery are meant to provide another layer of value on top of each of these fields."
Connected Farm Field is currently available, and Connected Farm Advisor is expected to be available in October 2014. For more information, visit the Connected Farm Web site at: www.connectedfarm.com.