A wireless link can make the difference between actually taking advantage of what your data can tell you rather than simply producing colorful maps each year.

In any industry you see some level of specialization. As growers’ time becomes more valuable, they might focus on daily management tasks; yet they’d still want to benefit from data analysis’ reduction in field variability. But if you’re not a veteran GIS software analyst, it might make more sense to send your data to a specialist to analyze your soil maps and aerial images. A wireless link harnesses this opportunity to provide beneficial management changes.

Or, you may have complete mastery of your technology, but after being away from it since last harvest, it’s harder to remember it all.

Wireless communications can play out in other ways on the farm. Remote sensors in grain bins monitor your grain quality while you’re off site. As farms get larger and grain storage becomes more remote, they alert you when things go awry. Less obvious applications include monitoring biomass moisture content intended for cellulosic ethanol feedstocks.

Or, as government and insurance reporting evolves, harvest data may stream directly from your cab to an insurance agent or government reporting agency.

Telemetry has been around in agriculture for over 10 years, but it was slow to take off because it’s hard to justify the cost for just the basic telemetry package. One of the more obvious applications has been access to remote help when your tractor breaks down. But who wants to think about his tractor breaking down?

Other benefits from wireless technology may be in the form of improved responsiveness from your local custom applicator; there’s less misapplication now that they have universal access to your application maps and less opportunity to lose your maps. Telemetry and remote tracking replace their daily scheduling meetings.

Where you’ve got continuously operating reference station (CORS) technologies available and cell modems in cabs, we see more growers taking advantage of wireless. In Iowa, the number of CORS users increased from 113 to 247 in 2009. In 2010, there were more than 3,000 hours of CORS RTK time used in Iowa, meaning in-field wireless links on vehicles. That’s spread across 50-60 active users.

Growers who use data can receive a higher rate of return by making better management decisions. After all, doing the same thing day after day, year after year and expecting better results, is the definition of crazy.