The need for more crops continues to grow. In order to fill that need, many local farmers are going high-tech.
Farmers are now using GPS technology to help navigate fields. This increases the amount of crops being harvested.
By using what's called an RTK system, farmers can harvest their crop using satellite positioning to keep the tractor driving hands free along a designated path.
“With this technology as far as harvesting peanuts, I mean, they wouldn't even have to have lights if they didn't need them,” said William Birdsong, Wiregrass Research and Extension Center.
For farmers like JP Kelley of H&K Farms, the $27-30k cost is worth it.
Kelly farms about 2,000 acres. He says in production last year alone the RTK system paid for itself.
“It could have made as much of a difference as a thousand pounds for us. We didn't have to see where the rows were, and we were able to stay right on the row, which was wonderful,” said Kelley. “Plowing up peanuts is pretty stressful when you're having to watch your equipment and keeping the tractor where it’s supposed to be on the row.”
Agronomists say a farmer can potentially save 100 pounds of peanuts harvested per acre. But, that cost breakdown is just describing what a farmer can save by staying on the row... minimizing crop loss.
If you factor in the extra hours a hands-free tractor can provide, then the savings can really add up… making what's already a 200-billion dollar industry... even more profitable.
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