Sometimes you have to do a little tinkering with something to keep perfecting it. That's been true with a number of agricultural technology innovations, and it's also been the case with cotton yield monitors.

Ag Leader Technology Inc. introduced its first cotton yield monitor, the PF3000 monitor, and implemented the feature into the PFadvantage monitor. Now the Ames, Iowa-based precision agriculture company has added its cotton yield monitor to its new Insight display capabilities.

“We have taken our years of cotton yield monitoring experience and rolled them into the Insight display to provide the cotton grower with the most advanced cotton yield monitor system on the market,” said David King, marketing manager for Ag Leader Technology.

“The addition of the cotton yield monitor means the Insight display is now a complete year-round precision farming tool for the cotton grower,” says Henry Moody, a product engineer with Ag Leader.

Moody joined Ag Leader last year after completing graduate work with John Wilkerson, the University of Tennessee engineering professor who led the team that developed many of the components now in use on cotton yield monitor systems.

The latest Insight display features SeedCommand for control of planting operations, DirectCommand for both granular and liquid application, yield monitoring and AutoSteer with an interface to the Trimble AgGPS Autopilot system.

SeedCommand features AutoSwath, which automatically controls the Tru Count planter clutches. The clutches control the seed meter drive from the planter transmission, enabling planter sections to be turned on and off automatically based on already planted areas or areas designated not to plant.

“This helps reduce overplanting of seed on end rows, point rows, terraces and waterways,” says King. “SeedCommand also saves you time by eliminating the need to slow down to accurately lift and lower the planter on end rows.”

“The Insight display can also be used for all the grower's grain operations as well,” he said. “That can be especially important in the South where farmers produce a number of different crops.”

Combined with GPS systems, the Insight cotton yield monitor records precise yield maps along with complete field and load records, providing information on productivity for each acre. The computer display's portability means growers can move the unit from tractor to sprayer to combine to cotton picker to get maximum use from the display.

“The system was so user friendly that with just a couple of buttons I was able to start harvesting the next field,” said Stoney Hargett, a cotton producer who tested the Insight cotton yield monitor over 1,800 acres around Alamo, Tenn., last year.

Convenience can be important in west Tennessee where fields and farms tend to be smaller and growers like Hargett and his father, Jimmy Hargett, can have numerous landlords.

“I really appreciated the on-screen yield map,” said Hargett. “I could see yield changes in the field as they happened and knew exactly what was being harvested there.”

“The Insight display allows you to automatically segregate varieties so that you can see what each variety yields,” said Mike W. Olson, Ag Leader national sales manager who spoke at a New Developments from Industry session at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.

Ag Leader began manufacturing its first crop yield monitor in 1992. The on-the-go yield monitoring system, which had been in development for six years at that point, has become the centerpiece of the precision farming practices, and the Yield Monitor 2000 has become a benchmark for yield monitors, said King.

The company introduced its first cotton yield monitor in 2000. The system provides instant on-the-go monitoring of bales per acre for both Case IH and John Deere pickers.

The Insight cotton yield monitoring system utilizes multiple optical sensors to measure cotton volumetric flow rates in the picker chutes. The sensors measure volumetric flow from at least two rows of cotton and communicate the readings to the Insight display.