• Morgan Seger

Ep. 50: The #1 AgTech Trend You Should Know About



Ep. 50: The #1 AgTech Trend You Should Know About with John Fulton (Plus the Latest Precision Ag Research and Tech Tips for Harvest)


If John Fulton could label the 2022 farming year with one AgTech product, he’d tell you it would “go down in his book as the year of the spray drones.”


In this episode of the Precision Points Podcast, John Fulton, a professor in the Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department at The Ohio State University, reveals one of the biggest AgTech topics he’s experienced while traveling, presenting and meeting growers at meetings and conferences.


“I couldn’t turn around and someone not mention spray drones,” says Fulton. “I just couldn’t believe the level of interest in spray drones all of a sudden.”


Fulton says ag labor challenges coupled with custom application availability gave spray drones a unique opportunity to enter the growing season.


“When you’re growing row crops, timing’s everything on inputs,” says Fulton. “But there was limited access to custom application, whether that was via planes or ground rigs, and it was challenging.”


As a result, farmers began purchasing spray drones to fill the gap, allowing them to apply fungicide timely within the short timeframe they were already allotted.


One of the appeals to spray drones Fulton relates is the cost.


“It’s a little bit of money, but it’s not a hundred thousand dollars like some of the equipment,” explains Fulton.


While drone spraying is giving growers the capacity to make timely decisions on inputs when conditions might not be conducive to ground or aerial application, Fulton says he doesn’t see this technology replacing current machinery or aerial applicators.


“It’s really just a new tool in the toolbox,” says Fulton. “When you look at trying to cover thousands of acres and do that in a timely fashion, we continue to still need aerial applicators, like planes and helicopters specifically.”


Even with a lot yet to learn about this new technology and its best uses, drone spraying has brought a lot of interest from growers, alluding to the conditions farmers are currently facing.


For more potential drone spraying applications, like cover crops, and other tech tips to prepare for the upcoming harvest season, listen to the full episode.


Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [03:26] Guest John Fulton discusses some of the recent research projects he has been working on, including variable rate seeding, pivot irrigation, planter technology, crop spacing by population, automation, and drone spraying.

  • [05:44] John recaps what crops are looking like across the Midwest and how weather patterns are influencing windows for growers.

  • [07:52] Soil compaction studies are being evaluated at the on-farm level and John dives into how compaction can be indicated through different data mechanisms.

  • [13:00] John addresses row spacing and its potential to impact yield.

  • [18:13] John explains why 2022 is the year of spray drones and how they’re filling the gap in labor shortages, custom applicator availability, and timely applications.

  • [24:03] While drone spraying may be a beneficial “new tool in the toolbox,” John explains why he doesn’t see this technology replacing current machinery and aerial applicators.

  • [26:26] John gives advice on what growers can be doing now to prep for harvest and even spring planting next year, from having parts on hand to making sure your firmware is up to date.

  • [31:17] John explains the importance of calibrating yield monitors and explains two different ways to calibrate sensors for accurate flows.


Resources mentioned in this episode:


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Bio

John Fulton is a professor in the Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department at The Ohio State University. His research and extension efforts focus on precision agriculture, machinery automation and use of spatial data to improve crop production and the farm business.


Transcription





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