What's here? Information I'm learning about farming and Android apps I've created: Planter monitors. Field Notes. Soil Sampling. A DuoRate controller. Internet Of Things.

2016 winter - 2017 summer project: RTK type system for auto-steer for under $500. Payback desired: Accurate steering while planting so my fields can be sidedressed with fertilizer. Also, I would like to do strip-till fertilizer application in the fall and be able to plant on top of the fertilizer the next spring. My current auto-steer drives across the field pretty straight but pass to pass changes from the perfect 30" gap.

One box is a stationary base station, the other a mobile or rover. The base station is set over a fixed position like a fence post. The antenna on the mobile unit is attached to the top of the tractor cab. As the latitude and longitude vary because of atmosphere and satellite conditions, the base unit sends corrections to the mobile unit which feeds the GPS data to the auto-steer control box. Current status: The technology works. The programming works. The Xbee radio transmitter and receiver work. My Ag Leader OnTrac 2 autosteer accepts the GPS signal. Although the U-blox NEO-M8N-0-10 GPS modules seem to stabilize to less than 1 meter precision, they don't seem to be able to vary their latitude and longitude the same between the two units making the corrections unreliable.

Attempt 2: After I started this project, the U-blox GPS company created a similar setup with new NEO-M8P modules. I've talked to their technical support. The new module is said to have much better accuracy and much more sophisticated math algorithms. They are promoting centimeter level accuracy using the base and rover technique. Output from their modules will need to be converted to the proper hookup for ag autosteer systems (not difficult) and enclosures built. Research cost will be around $600. Care to contribute? Call me if you are interested.

After planting project: Flow meter for liquid fertilizer on my planter. Powered off seed sensor harness. Gallons per Acre sent through Bluetooth to my planter monitor. It now has an enclosure.

Soil temperature and moisture probe experiment - Phase 2: logging data to Thingspeak.com graph. Using a Particle Photon that communicates to the Internet via WiFi. See IOT link above (Internet of Things). Next phase will be to send data from a Particle Electron that sends data via cell phone type signal. The plan is to power it with a Li-ion battery and solar charger and stick it in a waterproof box in my field...and monitor the temps remotely from my phone. Gauge when to start planting. Track GDD's?

This is a new circuit board allowing one to control most any on/off device remotely via a bluetooth signal to the onboard relay. This is what controls my DuoRate device.

This is a video of my DuoRate controller to give variable rate planter populations. In 2016 I hooked my DuoRate into my planter monitor and had the prescription running on the same tablet as my monitor. Over the winter, I stripped out the prescription part of the app to just control the DuoRate. (Can't market my planter monitor due to patent regulations.) The video shows the prescription on the tablet and how it controls a relay to turn the DuoRate on and off. I am now marketing the DuoRate prescription app and control box. Availability will be limited for the Spring of 2017. Need a custom version of this?

Soil Sampling App
The planter App is an example of what is possible. This will be year 5 of using my own precision monitor:

Click here for frequently asked questions about my Planter Apps.


From Jim:
2017 is my 8th year farming as an adult. We have a 180 acre farm north of Boone, Iowa where I raise corn and soybeans. I got into farming late in life. My dad taught school and farmed when I was growing up. I helped a little. Our farm was four hours away from home. When I was in my 20's, I asked my dad if he wanted me to farm or not. He told me to move to town and get a good job. So I spent 30 years in computer applications development. In 2008 we bought farm land about an hour away. I had a 1965 John Deere 3020 tractor and an old field cultivator. I bought a 1969 John Deere 7000 planter with some aftermarket precision parts on it and started to learn about modern farming. I am fortunate to have friends and relatives who introduced me to such things as auto steer and modern planter monitors. So I look at farming through the eyes of a computer guy. I want to be able to use the newest technologies that don't require spending big bucks for new equipment.

  Destinctive Difference

Poverty is the mother of invention. If you aren't a big farmer, you've got to use tools that you can afford. As a farmer desiring these tools that benefit myself, I'm building apps and monitors, and GPS equipment for the me as a small farmer, with smaller equipment, that I can afford.

  What I've been working on...

- Winter 2017 future projects: Add cooling to my planter monitor control box. On the planter: Squirt fertilizer around the seed only instead of a continuous stream using affordable technology.
- Working on a RTK like system for getting accurate GPS data ( hopefully 2" - 3"). Around $500 in parts.
- Just completing work on a separate app to control the Duo-Rate device using a prescription map. App can be modified to control any on/off device by GPS based prescription.
- Just designed a circuit board with a power relay controlled by a bluetooth device. Used for my Duo-Rate but will make available for your projects.
- Internet of Things devices. See test link above. I've picked up my Particle Photon with WIFI connectivity and started playing with it. Uses: I've programmed it to send me an email when my garage door is left open after 6:30 pm. One could put any number of sensors on it and have it notify you via email or SMS message when conditions make it useful. Ideas: field conditions - temperature and moisture. Bin temperature and humidity. Drier malfunctions, Motion detection - intruder notification. The current device requires it to be in range of one's wireless router. I have a similar device called the Electron that has a cell phone like interface that would work without a router. It's connected to temperature and soil humidity sensors. See the IOT tab above.
- An Android app to use to locate soil sample locations. Available now on Play Store: here
- An app to take field notes for rocks, weeds, insects, crops while mapping their location with GPS coordinates. Available now on Play Store: here
- My planter monitor now controls a Duo-rate (TM) device to vary my planter population based on a prescription. See the Planter Monitor tab above.
- I gave up on 2015's winter's project to develop an inexpensive way to plant two varieties. At least for the time.
© Out Farming 2017