Written by; Richard Sawyer
The John Deere trial Field Connect moisture and climate monitoring unit was finally removed on 23rd February from the potato pivot following a crop season trial. This unit was installed in mid November after crop emergence and the banks had been pulled up. Unlike previous uses of this equipment we coincided this with trialling John Deere’s wireless nodes, eliminating the need for the installation of cables and enabling a probe to be installed within the first and last span of the pivot.
Each monitoring site consisted of a 0.5m probe and rain gauge with the addition of specific sensors on each site. The inner site had temperature and humidity sensors while the outer site had the addition of a leaf wetness sensor.
Overall the system worked well providing some valuable data regarding crop use, infiltration rates, drawdown periods following hot weather and watering accuracy across the pivot. The clients were able to visualise and analyse the data remotely from offices both locally and regionally on the web based portal. Due to the distances and remoteness of this operation the ability to access the data in this way made the Field Connect Unit a useful farm management tool.
The trial did not go without its hitches, we found due to rapid canopy growth shading the rain gauges, creating the need to raise them every two to three weeks in the peak growth period. The initial set up was fiddly however once all connected the units ran without a hitch. Future improvements will be to ensure constant power supply to the host node through the solar panel and to mount the monitors onto a frame that can easily be raised or lowered to keep at the correct height.