Where Wireless Data Transfer Fits

Coming field data technology to make flash drives and compact cards obsolete.

Published on: Aug 24, 2010

On page 20 of September's issue, we reported on coming wireless technology that'll allow automatic "zinging" of data from a tractor, combine or sprayer modem automatically to a receiving computer – and vice versa. But where will it first fit in the Northeast? Here's a quick report from Hoober Inc.'s Ken Diller.

Fresh from a precision ag meeting in the Mid West, Diller has a good idea of where wireless data transfer will first be a good fit. Hoober Inc.'s precisions ag specialist, headquartered at Intercourse, Pa., expects the technology to first find a home in sprayer cabs and on planter tractors handling large acreages.

"It'll come first to larger operations needing to automatically transmit field data to and from the machines," he explains. "It's a convenience for businesses looking to maximum productivity.

FIRST USERS: Field sprayers already equipped with precision ag technology likely will be first to use wireless data transfer in the Northeast, says Ken Diller.
FIRST USERS: Field sprayers already equipped with precision ag technology likely will be first to use wireless data transfer in the Northeast, says Ken Diller.

"The big question is whether it'll be worth the investment," he adds. "The time savings by not needing to carry data cards could be huge for larger operations. And, the possibility for corrupted data can be greatly reduced."

A data plan is more robust than a cell phone plan. It doesn't lose signals or calls as easily, he points out. On the heavy-use East Coast, he fears, even Blackberries won't get the same results as a dedicated data modem.

Also, in the Northeast, most field data goes first to a third party – a crop consultant or another management service firm. But the system has greatest benefit to direct users.

Diller notes one other concern: Some modems may work with only on cell provider. That can be problematic here, he contends. That's changing, though, confirm officials for Trimble's Connected Farms system.

Hoober will be field testing Raven's Slingshot modem this fall. Modems must be compatible with available local wireless data networks. They'll be doing a lot more than providing RTK corrections.