With consideration for location, management and enterprise compatibility, both of these systems need careful consideration before purchasing to ensure they meet the demands of the grower on all levels. Farm operations such as harvesting, planting, spraying and cultivations all have an affect on where and how these systems are installed. The probes themselves protrude above or at best are level with the ground and do have wires attaching them to their wireless nodes, these in themselves do not make it convenient for ground engaging equipment. It is wise to remove the probes for these operations, which for short season crops in the horticultural industry makes sense, however in broad acre should be a consideration for system compatibility. The locations of the central weather station or gateway due to their wireless options can mean that they have a more permanent place for installation, however for long season/perennial crops they may be in the way for harvesting or spraying operations due to their location in the row or protruding above the crop.
Like most monitoring systems there is a level of management required to ensure accurate data is collected. This is particularly important in fast growing vegetative crops where rain gauges and light sensors can soon become overgrown, or wildlife has a tendency to chew or peck at wires. For this reason it is important to look at the system once a week to ensure nature has not interfered with any of the data collection systems. Saying this if the intended installation is into a grazing system careful consideration should be taken as to how the system is installed since livestock have a tendency to destroy anything above ground unless it is either high enough or strong enough. Both the field connect and the iMetos are suitable for grazing systems, however prior to purchasing, hardware and installation methods should be considered carefully.
The accuracy of any system like this is dependent on the install and maintenance of the sensing hardware. Once installed probes in particular need time to settle before accurate data can be drawn from the sensors. Depending on the soil type and method of installation this can be from a matter of 24 hours to a week. The drill and drop system is a dry installed probe which tends to settle quicker and viable data can be gathered within 24-48 hours. The field connect however is a wet install, requiring soil slurry to help seat the probe, this kind of system requires longer before accurate data can be drawn from the readings. The sensors themselves for both systems are all either Sentec manufactured or designed sensors for the probes.
• Data accessibility, formatting, Interface and compatibility:
The field Connect and the iMetos systems both use a cloud base platform for presenting the data from the field sensors. These can be accessed via PC, smartphone or Tablet with complementary apps which work via IOS or Android systems. This data is sent from the gateway at intervals which can be selected by the grower, iMetos updates data from the wireless systems every 15 minutes and Field Connect every 30 minutes to the gateway which is stored on the data logger before being sent to the cloud.
The data itself is presented in a format that can be specific to the grower requirements, the changeable parameters on the data are items such a units, timescales, which sensors to compare/select and many more options which needs to demonstrated to fully understand how bespoke the data delivery can be.
Field Connect platform picutre above
iMetos Data Platform picture above
The two examples above show a snap shot of how this data can be presented on a PC or tablet, individual data points can be selected to draw down to specific times or events enabling a grower to pinpoint areas for further investigation or management. The app options allow for the disease modelling and forecasting with iMetos, field connect allows for alerts to be set up should data points range outside grower set parameters.
• Strengths and Weaknesses:
Both these systems have adaptability for user requirements and allow for additional development through hardware and software interface. The Field Connect system comes with the John Deere name and all that is synonymous with what it means to people within the industry. The limitation of not having salinity and temperature suits some users who are only chasing the basics. The user interface works is easy to read, alter and understand enabling growers to utilise a simpler system which still gives good accurate information.
The iMetos system has more adaptability for the field, which offers the grower a greater amount of information with the added option of crop specific disease modelling and weather forecasting. The user interface can look more confusing however once mastered becomes a very informative platform.
Both systems are great tools to optimise data for crop input and monitoring. The use of moisture probes with temperature and salinity sensors is becoming more wide spread as the importance of soil health and crop nutrition becomes more apparent.
For more information on these systems please go to:
Or contact your local Emmetts John Deere dealer.