Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Academic Divisions > College of Health and Life Sciences > Department of Agriculture > University Farm > HPJ Article 2000
August 28, 2000
THE HIGH PLAINS JOURNAL
by Larry Dreiling
The Fort Hays State
University Department of Agriculture's Precision Agriculture curriculum
continues to expand and diversify, according to Dr. John Greathouse,
chairman of the department.
"During the past year we harvested and collected crop yield
data on approximately 320 acres or 4 fields of milo and approximately
480 acres or 6 fields of wheat," Greathouse said. "The
fall 1999 milo harvest was performed using a 9510 John Deere combine.
John Deere provided us with a new 9550 combine for the summer of
2000 wheat harvest. This machine is equipped with a StarFire position
receiver that has a 10-satellite tracking capability and an average
10-inch accuracy using a dual-frequency DGPS Signals."
"We continue to use the satellite receiver unit
attached to a four-wheeler to collect soil samples and generate
perimeter maps of our fields. This also will be the second year
that we cooperate with Collingwood Grain to apply fertilizer, using
variable rate technology, to two parcels of wheat ground selected
for long-term demonstration and study."
Various commercial computer software packages are
being utilized in the analysis and interpretation of the crop yield
and soil analysis data. These programs include John Deere's JD Map,
and Agris Corporation's Field Link and Ag Link packages. There also
are plans to incorporate Farmland Industry's Crop Management System
(CMS) decision-based software, and FarmWorks FarmTrac field mapping
and recordkeeping package, into the academic program this next year,
with overlapping application to the agronomy, and agribusiness disciplines.
The department's precision agriculture equipment inventory
was expanded with the purchase a new field sprayer equipped with
a Raven variable-rate controller. Greathouse said department faculty
currently are examining opportunities to incorporate this technology
into the program.
"Students are involved with all phases of the
agronomic data collection process," Greathouse said. "The
greatest degree of exposure has been with those student hired as
employees of the University Farm Crop Division, who have received
extensive training on equipment utilization and harvest data collection.
"Some students have received academic credit
through Agriculture Problems classes for working on individualized
projects involving sample data collection and interpretation. Students
in Agronomic Crop Science, Soil Science and Crop Production have
received a more general exposure to the department's agronomic precision
During the upcoming academic year, the department
plans to use the combine's yield monitoring system to collect data
to assess the impact of fall and winter cattle grazing on wheat
yields. The initial design of the experiment is being developed,
and will be dependent upon soil moisture level and plant growth.
"If all goes as planned, the trial will provide
us with some very important and useful information for producers
in the area. This, of course, is in addition to the inherent value
of this type of project to our instructional program in all three
agriculture disciplines," Greathouse said.
"Our precision agriculture emphasis remains
diverse as we continue to include use of the Dairy Division's automated
feed management and milking system, as well as the Heat Watch breeding
detection system for cattle. The Heat Watch system was incorporated,
for the first time this summer, into our Beef Division heifer breeding
program. Students receiving varying levels of exposure to these
precision systems as part of their academic studies.