Older combines with enhanced data collection

A yield monitor retrofit by FarmTRX enables growers to fit their older combines with yield-mapping technology similar to late model combines.

“I’m an old hardware guy so I designed a task-specific processor box that records the data. We use your smartphone for a real-time display and to configure what you’re doing, what crop you’re in and how big of header you have,” said Perry Casson of FarmTRX.

Casson is chief technology officer and co-founder of Troo Corp., which offers asset tracking and monitoring services to customers in 50 countries. He also farms near North Battleford, Sask.

Casson wanted to measure a variable rate fertilizer program on the farm but wasn’t satisfied with the yield monitors on the market.

He had three combines that needed yield-monitoring equipment, so he decided to take a different approach to making yield maps.

“We generated a cute little electronics box, some optical sensors to go across your clean grain elevator to measure the volume of the crop going into your machine, and a little app that you load onto your smartphone.

“We did Android last year, we’re doing IOS as well this year, so either will work,” Casson said.

Users’ phones take the data off the yield-monitoring system and push it to the cloud, where it is turned into yield maps.

“We can take the point data that the harvesters create, create maps from it, give the farmer a nice little catalogue of all of his fields sorted for every year so he has a nice yield catalogue to share with his agronomist for future fertilizer and planning going forward,” Casson said.

There is a calibration option in the mobile app, but he said the most accurate way to calibrate the yield monitor is to go harvest for a day and measure how much you put in your bins.

“Then the yield monitor says I averaged 42 but my bins say I got 41, that’s my new number and it will apply that calibration. You can also apply the new calibration after the fact at the website level.

“After the data is in the cloud, we can go and re-skew all the data up and down to meet the mean,” Casson said.

He said the absolute calibration data isn’t as important as the differences.

“What you want is where am I 10 percent over? Where am I 10 percent under? That’s where it gets interesting.”

The system costs $1,499, which includes the first year of data hosting.

“We do charge a per-acre fee. It’s a couple hundred dollars per year to keep the data in the cloud going. You can still access the data directly if you have no interest in keeping the online catalog going,” Casson said.

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