What is in this article?:
- Precision agriculture spurs growth on South Carolina farm
- Focus on row crop operation
- Is a learning curve
- Played role in yield increases
• Like most kids growing up in the cyber era, Landrum Weathers grew up learning on a computer; he learned to drive a tractor and use a computer hard drive at virtually the same time.
• Coming back to the farm, Landrum Weathers found his family quick to put his knowledge of computers and their role in precision farming to use.
• Precision agriculture will be a big part of the ongoing transition to more row crops.
A LITTLE BLUE BOX replaced a bulky GPS base station on the Weathers farm in South Carolina. Landrum Weathers checks out the GPS unit.
Focus on row crop operation
Making this decision about their own dairy farm, which was begun by Landrum’s great-grandfather, allowed the family to focus more attention on expanding their row crop operation.
Going from less than 1,000 acres of row crops to nearly triple that amount is an ongoing challenge for the youngest member of the Weathers farming family.
Precision agriculture will be a big part of the ongoing transition to more row crops, he says.
“Dad has always been very progressive — he might not be the first to adopt new technology, but he would be up there in the front of the line,” Landrum says. “Since I came back to work on the farm full-time, both Dad and my uncle have been very receptive to new ideas to make our farming operation run more smoothly.”
One contribution he made to the farming operation was doing away with the bulky GPS base station that guided their Trimble Auto-steer system and replacing it with a wireless 10x10x2-inch Intuicom blue plastic box that runs off a Verizon data card.
Pointing to the box, Landrum says, “It’s similar to having an external drive and plugging it into a laptop computer. The box gets on the Internet, via a phone number and ISP address, and connects to a transmission tower that broadcasts RTK correction signals.
“Not every county in South Carolina has a tower, but virtually all do — I think there are 45 in the entire state.”
The box is wireless and highly mobile. It picks up the RTK (Receptor Tyrosine Kinase) signal from an antenna mounted on top of his tractor and sends it to the Verizon data card.
The box converts the data signal into an RTK correction signal, which tells the computer where to make the tractor go.
Though the technology sounds high tech, the transmission is simple.
“We purchased the Intuicom box from Spectra Integrated Systems — our Trimble dealer. They set us up with an IP address. Then, we called Verizon and they assigned a phone number to the box.
“After that, we called the South Carolina Geodetic Survey and they set us up an account that allows our Verizon data card to receive satellite transmissions via their towers.”