World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, running Feb. 12-14, attracts 1,600 exhibitors displaying the latest in farm equipment, chemicals, communications, and technology on 2.5 million sq. feet of exhibit space. The event is the largest outdoor farm show in the Americas. Tulare is located in the middle of California’s Central Valley, 2.5 hours north and south of Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. More than 100,000 people pass through the turnstiles over three days of the show.  |  Michael Raine photo

Farm conferences are valuable resource for producers

Learning about new technology occurs in different ways. Some people will take classes at the local college. Others may use the internet to search for information or YouTube to learn how to do something. Some may actually read magazine articles. Winter or those slow times between crop production cycles brings another option for learning: conferences, […] Read more

ASI of Utah is working with Case IH and New Holland on vineyard and large-scale field equipment and operations, using a system that allows a single operator to simultaneously manage multiple vehicles. Advanced path-generating algorithms calculate the most efficient area coverage pattern for a field taking into account the type of task, size of implements, number of vehicles in the field, and vehicle and implement turn radius. Each unmanned farm vehicle is equipped with a series of hardware and software components that permit a user to toggle between manual and robotic control. The components work with the existing by-wire, mechanical or hydraulic control system and link vehicles to a central command station. |  ASI photo

Robots are coming to agriculture — get ahead of them

Back in my boyhood days on the farm, labour was the way to get things done. Our home farm was small but mostly self-sufficient. I and my three brothers milked cows by hand, stacked small hay bales in the barn by hand and cleaned the cattle and hog pens by hand. When we expanded the […] Read more

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


Bringing it all together: linking data with field, office, vehicle

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

Talented people are everywhere, you just have to find them

A nice thing about having my own column is that I can get on a soapbox about something I believe in. Since this is a column about precision farming, it will get there in a roundabout way. A couple of news items in the past few years have made me wonder how society values talent. […] 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


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

Whether it’s canola or cotton, there are ways to obtain crop production data, including yield sensors and GPS mapping.  |  File photo

Precision ag is all about how, when, where and what

Precision farming, specifically spatial analytics, is about making decisions from the data that we can glean from a field. No matter what the crop is, hundreds of types of data can be collected for analysis. Yield is the biggest one. After all, it is the net result, the outcome for the year, the source of […] Read more