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Sensors Cut Pivot Costs, Boost Yields
ensing technology from Autonomous Pivot (AP) is cutting water use and boosting yield. The data-gathering devices can be mounted on existing pivot irrigation systems, according to AP distributor Heartland Soil Services. The system takes gathered data, including 300 soil moisture readings per pivot rotation, and makes recommendations on water use and crop stresses.
“There are no limits on the type of center pivots the system can be mounted to,” says Matt Westerhaus, Heartland Soil Services. “In our side-by-side trials here in Kansas, the Autonomous Pivot field used 12 percent less water and had a 10-bushel yield advantage.”
Westerhaus has worked with Autonomous Pivot for several years. He likes the idea of a base system with no options or add-ons. The technology package was developed in Israel, a leader in irrigation innovations for many decades.
The AP system consists of pivot-mounted devices, including cameras, a rain gauge/weather station, a water pressure sensor, GPS, and ground penetrating radar. The ground penetrating radar device mounts to an arm that extends ahead of the pivot sprinkler pattern.
A solar panel mounted to the pivot provides localized power, and a data transmitter forwards data to AP’s AI (artificial intelligence) agronomist. It alerts the pivot operator to field conditions via the company’s dashboard app and makes recommendations on water usage and other field management aspects.
“The main component is the ground penetrating radar,” explains Westerhaus. “It determines how much moisture is in the field on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being field capacity and zero being leaf wilting.”
At the same time, views of the crop are gathered every 30 min. by a wide-angle lens camera and a narrow-angle camera. The latter can zoom into a 3-ft. field of view to detect insects and pest-feeding patterns. These images are augmented by two fixed-wing aerial images of each field each season.
The rain gauge and weather station send real-time data, which is combined with DTN data to adjust application recommendations.
“The primary use of the sensory data is to track field conditions and the growth stage of the crop and adjust water management accordingly,” says Westerhaus.
AP systems are installed by distributors like Heartland Soil Services under a service contract. The company provides hardware (including updates), covers damages, and maintains the AI software and hardware. Pricing is based on the number of pivots, starting at $2,300 per pivot per year, dropping to $1,900 to $2,000 with three or four pivots. Installation charges start at $400, depending on what needs to be done in terms of sensor placement.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Heartland Soil Services, 112B West First St., Cunningham, Kan. 67035 (ph 620-298-2780 or 620-388-8133; matt.w@heartlandsoilservices.com; www.heartlandsoilservices.com.

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2