Cool temperatures this month have resulted in planting dates being pushed back across much of the state in comparison to 2012. Producers awaiting to get into the field should consider using this time to double check their application equipment, especially those who use precision agriculture technologies, says Joe Luck, UNL Extension precision agricultural engineer.
Examples include simple rate controllers that compensate for ground speed variation, automatic section control systems which reduce overlap, or variable-rate application systems. Whether you're spreading, planting, or spraying, pre-season updates and calibration of your application equipment will help to minimize errors.
Global positioning systems are an essential component for almost every piece of precision technology that we use in the field today, according to Luck. It's important that your GPS receiver's firmware, the software that controls the receiver, is up to date. Many manufacturers will usually let you know when an update is available. However, it's always a good idea to check the version that's currently installed on your GPS unit to make sure it's current, he adds.
Updating firmware on many GPS systems is often as easy as downloading the firmware file to a USB drive and then uploading it to your receiver. Another component that may be common to application equipment is a ground speed radar. The main function of the GSR is typically to inform the rate controller so it can adjust for any changes in ground speed. Yearly calibration is recommended. To do so, check the manufacturer specifications.
It's also important to ensure that the GSR is mounted securely to the vehicle frame so that there's no movement during field application.