Interest in the use of drones, manned aerial systems or satellite systems to gather imagery has grown rapidly with producers in Western Canada. Each has its own advantages and growers can choose based on resolution requirements, availability and cost.  |  File photo

Data collection from above; getting the right stuff from flight

After flying drones for a few years, I was asked to speak at various conferences. Most of these are professional and proper affairs in which people sit quietly to listen, applaud the speaker politely, and ask thoughtful questions afterward. However, at one memorable conference at which there were people representing drones, manned aerial systems and […] Read more

Internet of Things promises to revolutionize farming

Sometimes I wonder how the media comes up with these new terms. For example, the first time I heard the word “cover” used to refer to an old song redone by a different artist, I was confused. We used to call it a “remake,” which I think is very descriptive. I don’t get how the […] Read more

Technicians play major role in precision agriculture

Last month, I noted that operators of agricultural enterprises needed to concentrate on making decisions and avoid getting bogged down with a mountain load of data and the necessary analysis. That is normal procedure in the business world. The chief executive officer and corporate management receive reports and data filtered through various levels of management […] Read more


Data interpretation key to farmer usability

Who makes the decisions in precision farming? As a precision ag instructor, I try to talk with producers to learn more about their business and technology needs. I’ll ask about how they use precision technology, what’s most valuable for them and what they think about new technology. Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, are […] Read more

It’s not snow; it’s almonds bloom in near Fresno, Calif. Finding ways to add precision agriculture to far-western ag is not is difficult as one might think. Water, fertilizer, yield and pesticide use are all part of successful farming anywhere.  |  Michael Raine photo

Precision ag more than tools; it’s a way of thinking

After spending a career teaching precision farming in the U.S. Midwest, I have made the switch to west coast agriculture. Growing up in Iowa, corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and pastureland were pretty much the extent of my experience in crops. There is corn as far as the eye can see in some parts of Iowa, […] Read more


In precision agriculture, most companies rely on a modem and cellular data service to transfer data between devices.  |  File photo

Cellphones play key role in most telemetry systems

So far in this series of articles on telemetry, I’ve written about how wireless signals work, how telemetry works and what it can do. What is missing is how to actually set it up to operate. Most of the time it sounds easier than it actually is. The good news is that precision ag companies […] Read more

While it is impossible to read in newspaper format, the radio frequency chart for the U.S. shows just how crowded the airways really are. Canada is similar.  Look below for a link to a larger version of this image. |  U.S. Department of Commerce image

Who’s organizing the air waves; sorting out the frequencies

This column has been exploring the concept of telemetry as a tool for agriculture and defined it as the wireless transmission of data. Before discussing how to use telemetry in agriculture, here’s a simplified look to appreciate how it works. Wireless transmission of data is carried on electrical signals of different frequencies. Electrical signals are […] Read more

Wireless data transfer requires each device to share a wireless transmitter to pass information to the tractor cab or home office.  |  File photo

Telemetry; wireless data transfer key to precision ag

It seems that I have a greater appreciation for history as I age. What I’ve found is that many instances in history can be applied to these current times of advancing technology. Data communication is one of those technologies that have evolved as precision agriculture has advanced. As a favourite quote says, “there is always […] Read more


Computer users come in all levels of comfort, from happy fingers to dead fingers.  |  Michael Raine photo

Farmers still need precision farming support

As the use of technology is expanding and more of the things we do require a computer and basic computer literacy, the younger generation would seem to have a major advantage. They have serious finger skills. On the other side is my mother-in-law; she has happy fingers. Usually something happy is good, but in regards […] Read more

Can precision ag remain unique as farmer uptake grows?

The precision agriculture business is growing, but the most encouraging part is that growers are not just interested in the fancy devices such as auto-guidance, auto shutoffs and unmanned tools. They are also interested in the boring stuff such as sampling, data and spatial analysis. Co-ops, retailers, and providers are adding precision ag customers and […] Read more