The use of precision farming products continues to increase.

With increasing input costs, producers are often looking for ways to adopt technology to make farming operations more efficient and productive.

Two precision ag products, auto guidance and automatic section control, lead the way in cost savings while also enhancing the productivity of machinery operations.

Guidance systems reduce overlap in fields which leads to less passes across the field, less fuel and product use (i.e. seed, fertilizer, and herbicide), and fewer operator hours.

These savings can be directly calculated if the amount of overlap is known.

Additionally, swath control products reduce seed and chemical overlap into headlands and field boundaries by automatically shutting off planter or boom sections as they cross into headland areas.

Measuring production overlap

To quantify the amount of overlap that occurs in a typical production setting, Iowa State University researchers partnered with two Iowa producers in 2011 who did not own any precision ag technologies.

Researchers instrumented the planter and spring tillage tools of each producer with high accuracy RTK GPS systems to record the amount of actual overlap that occurred during planting and tillage operations.

More than 2,500 acres of field operations were monitored and analyzed to determine typical overlap in central Iowa production systems.