Yield maps generated from yield monitors are both the entrance and final exam for precision agriculture.
They are the entrance exam because this technology can be used to determine whether there is enough variability to use precision agriculture and the final exam because they can be used to determine whether precision technologies are successful.
Cotton has long been a staple crop in the Southeast, but continual increases in inputs and challenges, such as glyphosate resistant weeds, threatens continued growth. Maximizing inputs is critical to growth, and yield monitors are critical to cost-reducing precision agriculture technology.
Currently three yield monitors are available to producers in the Southeast from John Deere, AgLeader and Agriplan.
Each yield monitor has a unique calibration formula. The Deere system is different in that it uses microwave sensing and requires no holes in the air ducts, which can be a logistical challenge for the other systems.
As cotton passes between the emitter and receiver, light is reduced. The measured reduced light is converted by software in the computer hardware mounted on the machine and converted into pounds of cotton.
In South Carolina, researchers Ahmad Khalilian and Will Henderson worked with four South Carolina farmers to determine efficacy of the Agriplan and AgLeader cotton yield monitors. The yield maps generated by both systems were similar, and both were highly effective in mapping yield variability across cotton fields.
University of Georgia Researcher Calvin Perry, who has worked with cotton and peanut yield monitors for a decade says, “Yield monitors, like the AgLeader system cost approximately $7,000 for a six-row piece of equipment.”
In the overall scheme of things, it may not be very expensive, but if it isn’t used properly, it’s just another added cost that the grower doesn’t need, according to Perry.