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Hi-tech gadgets put agriculture on cutting edge

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Written Wednesday, September 10, 2003  

New advances in mobile data collection and GPS navigation in agriculture will be showcased at Ohio State University's Farm Science Review.

The annual farm show takes place Sept. 16-18 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio.

"Wireless data communications systems are very common in commercial business today and some of the newest technologies will be on hand," said Nathan Watermeier, Ohio State University Extension Program Leader Technology. Producers can collect and send data from anywhere on a farm with wireless data systems, including weather gauges, yield maps, voice and text communication, records, and the direction a tractor is headed.

"The collection of data has been happening for the past 10 years, but the problem is getting it sent quicker and not losing data from equipment malfunctions," Watermeier said.

Farm wide wireless systems can be costly but should become more affordable with time, Watermeier said. Visitors can learn more about what wireless communications can do for agriculture at Alumni Park.

An interactive exhibit at the Gwynne Conservation Area will show the latest in remote sensing, mobile GPS data collection systems and digital geographic data available to land/water resource planners.

"New this year will be mobile data collection systems with wireless GPS receivers that allow persons to take readings from a distance with no reliance on cables," Watermeier said. "A benefit of this technology is taking readings in geographic areas that are hard to reach or too hazardous for human contact."

Attendees also will be able to see hands-on how the mobile data collection systems, wireless GPS receivers, and guidance systems can work on their farm. Demonstrations will take place from 2-4 p.m. Sept. 16 and 17 and 2-3:30 p.m. Sept. 18.

"The vehicle guidance system demonstrations continue to be one of the largest and most diverse in the Midwest," said Matthew Sullivan, Ohio State University Extension program specialist. Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) guidance, DGPS auto-guidance, and Real-time Kenematic auto-guidance will be demonstrated.

"All the different systems will be lined up for farmers at the Review. You won't be able to see that any other place," Sullivan said. "It's a great evaluation tool for farmers to grab hold and actually be able to sit behind the steering wheel."

These systems improve accuracy to within 4-6 inches, resulting in fewer overlaps or gaps with pesticides, fertilizer or seeds. The systems also are easier on the driver, reducing fatigue, and make it easier to implement controlled traffic in which farmers drive over the same place every time, reducing field compaction.

Light bar technology also will be demonstrated. These guidance systems reduce overspray, make it easier to work at night and mean less reliance on foam markers.

At least eight brands of guidance systems will be set up on utility vehicles at the Review for visitors to operate and evaluate. Equipment manufacturers will be on hand during the demonstrations to answer questions.

Farm Science Review is sponsored by Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased at county offices of OSU Extension or agribusinesses. Children five and younger are admitted free.

Show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 16-17 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 18. For more information, please visit http://fsr.osu.edu

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