Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Crop Satellite Helps Custom-Design Field Treatment

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Crop Satellite Helps Custom-Design Field Treatment

Article excerpt

Scientists have dreamed for years about putting space-age technology to work in farmers' fields.

Those dreams are coming true on Illinois fields, where technology is changing the way farmers run their business. And agriculture "techies" say it's happening faster than they ever believed possible.

Kent Krukewitt, Champaign County Farm Bureau president, sees unlimited possibilities for global positioning, a system that uses satellite signals and computer mapping to identify specific soil characteristics so farmers can custom-design fertilizer and chemical application.

He said computers improved professional and personal communications in a traditionally isolated profession.

Harold Reetz of Monticello, a local representative for the Potash & Phosphate Institute, plans to take area farmers to Washington this summer to demonstrate the advantages of new technology to lawmakers and representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Reetz says the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications puts Champaign County farmers in perfect position to set examples for creative agricultural computer networking.

"We have to communicate, to focus on the world," said Reetz. "Argentina is going to be as important in the future as your back 40. Our world is changing very rapidly."

John Reifsteck bought a hand-held data recorder last summer. He'll record information on it this season when he scouts his fields near Tolono. The information can then be downloaded to his computer for a complete picture.

In addition to the data collector, Reifsteck put a yield monitor on his combine last fall and confirmed some theories about his crops.

"I learned from the monitor that there are large variations in a field, as I suspected," Reifsteck said. "There were some variety differences, but drainage, population and crop histories showed up. …

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