Yield Monitoring in Precision Agriculture
Yield Monitoring is an aspect of precision agriculture that helps to provide farmers with adequate information to make educated decisions about their fields. Yield monitors are a rather recent development and allow farm equipment such as combine harvesters or tractors to gather a huge amount of information, including grain yield, moisture levels, soil properties, and much more. Due to the fact that yield monitors provide farmers with so much information, they are much more able to assess things such as when to harvest, fertilize or seed, the effects of weather, and much more. Yield monitors work in three very simple steps: the grain is harvested and fed into the grain elevator which has sensors that read moisture content of the grain. After that process as the grain is being delivered to the holding tank, more sensors monitor the grain yield. As both of these sensors work the information is sent to the driver cab and is displayed on a screen, as well, the information is geo-referenced so it can be mapped as well as closely investigated on a later time or date. There are many benefits for farmers to use yield monitoring technology, although one main benefit is that it helps to give the farmer accurate and often geo-referenced data about their field. A farmer can better understand crop yield and crop related information to mitigate potential threats or enhance possible opportunities. Other benefits with a yield monitoring system include the ability for a farmer to export the information onto a personal computer, allowing this information to be available in a variety of different formats, including in equipment displays, at home, or printed. Also, in the home or office a farmer can used specialized computer software to asses and better understand the recorded information. Yield monitors can monitor grain by a field by field or load by load basis, this gives the farmer a huge amount of flexibility as well as provides him or her with instant information about the load they have gathered.
Fundamental Pieces of a Yield Monitor
Yield monitors have variances between each model, although there are some defining pieces of equipment that are used in the yield monitoring process. These sensors are key components of the yield monitoring process and help to provide further knowledge for the farmer, as well as more accurate results when collecting data.
Mass Flow Sensor
A mass flow sensor is a sensor that helps to provide the yield monitor with enough information to establish a grain yield measurement. The mass flow sensor works by using a load cell which is fixed to the top of a clean grain elevator. When the harvested grain is fed through the combine it eventually will hit up against this load cell, this is then transformed into an electrical signal and relayed to the yield monitor. The yield monitor uses this reading to determine how much grain is being taken into the combine at any point in time. This sensing method is very common, although there are different methods used, as well as variations of the same method.
Being aware of the moisture content in grain that has been harvested can be extremely valuable information for a farmer to know, especially for aspects including harvesting, storing and drying crops. When farmers take these moisture readings they are better able to obtain an accurate market value for their crop. The moisture sensor works when the grain moves in-between two conductive surfaces, which measure how much electric charge the grain can store – this is known as capacitance. There are various places to mount the moisture sensor, and it is a vital step of the yield monitoring process.
A GPS Receiver, or global positioning system receiver, is a remote sensor that measures a variety of different pieces of data, including where the equipment is located, speed, altitude, and much more. A GPS receiver is a primary component when geo-referencing, as the GPS receiver helps to record the position of the equipment in use, then sends that data to an onboard computer which then connects it with all other information that the computer has collected at that particular location. The GPS receiver is one of the key components that can help to transform yield monitoring data from graphs and charts, into tangible maps that the farmer can use.
Sometimes referred to as a task computer, receiver, or yield monitor; this piece of technology is the monitor that is located in the cab of the combine or tractor. This piece of equipment serves many different purposes, although its main function is to display the information gathered by the different onboard sensors to allow the operator to know in a real time manner different moisture levels, crop yield and more. These monitors also have the capability to store memory as well as transfer memory to a laptop or home computer. This transfer of memory makes analyzing data a much more comfortable experience, and it also provides the capability of using more software to interpret and render the data collected by the yield monitoring system.
What to Know When Buying a Yield Monitor
When looking into investing in a yield monitor for a piece of equipment there are several different aspects to keep in mind. For starters, entry level yield monitoring equipment typically starts at roughly $2,000 and becomes more expensive with more in-depth and advanced systems. There are aslo different aspects to consider when debating this purchase, including: Is a yield monitoring system available for your model of combine or tractor?; Do you have more than one combine or frequently change combines? Do you own a home computer as well as a colour printer? These questions should be considered before the purchase of a yield monitoring system, as they will help determine the right equipment based on your existing equipment and particular needs.
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