Posts Tagged ‘Telematics’

The Next Big Thing in Precision Agriculture

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Farming

Precision Agriculture Keeps Pace With Telematics Technology

Last winter, we wrote about Precision Agriculture, the use of technology to understand and manage variability in fields and crops. Precision Agriculture helps farmers save time and reduce costs, and also plays a key role in reducing the environmental impacts of farming by lowering chemical use, and reducing pollution and runoff.

This week’s Episode revisits the subject of Precision Agriculture, and so we decided to do the same. We learned that the specialty that some say could be “the next big thing” in Precision Agriculture is called Telemetry. Also known as Telematics, it’s a Communications Technology that relies on a central computer server to both capture and report information from a remote location, enabling users to monitor critical operating conditions from a location five miles away — or even on the other side of the world.

Telemetry systems are already being used in other industries – including transportation, construction and mining – making them ripe for adoption in the field of Agriculture. (Perhaps the best known telemetry system currently in use in the United States is OnStar, which makes use of cellular communications, GPS satellites and operations data to link automobiles to a central computer server and service center. It’s estimated that in an average month, the OnStar system unlocks more than 60,000 car doors and coordinates 2,000 automatic crash responses.)

Agricultural telemetry systems are based on the same basic technologies as OnStar, but instead of relaying information to a service center operator, information is delivered via Web sites.The information flow is supplemented by automated cell phone/e-mail and text alerts, which are made when preset alarms go off, alerting the farmer to engine error codes, required maintenance or low fuel tank levels, for example.

An article on PrecisionAg.com states that by incorporating advanced GPS Technology, wireless communication and Web-based equipment management software, growers gain instant access to key information about their farm equipment, including location, fuel consumption, speed and direction, and potential maintenance issues. Growers also gain the ability to manage their business from inside their homes, and to connect wirelessly via computer from a piece of farm equipment. And according to Farm Industry News, two-way telemetry systems that allow engine electronics to be automatically diagnosed and fixed remotely are already a reality.

Stay tuned – while farmers aren’t likely to be driving tractors by remote control in the immediate future, the rapidly evolving field of telematics technology could one day make this scenario a reality!