Looking into the future of precision application. – An update from AgNav
by Greg Hollyer, Ag-Nav Inc.
With another successful season in the books, AgNav will start looking into the future to new navigation and flow control technologies that are emerging for both air and ground applications. Perhaps nowhere is the dominance of fixed wing and helicopter operators more pronounced than in precision agriculture. These areas are expanding with new applications on the forefront as development is driving deployment of new AgNav systems to new heights, such as the Guia Platinum. Now, aerial applicators can benefit from the latest in navigation and application technology – powerful GPS systems that map, as well as show flight lines and ground images in advance, for safer dispersal of both wet and dry (including granular) materials.
Fixed wing and helicopters are performing safer and more profitably
with the latest navigation and flow control systems.
These systems make the entire operation more precise and flexible at the same time. Often, it’s difficult to get in touch with pilots during the day’s flying. Now, office staff can simply create an image and flight line file and transmit the results directly to the Platinum console for immediate action, such as adding on flights for adjacent fields or for other clients nearby. So essentially, applicators have the equivalent of a mini-computer with an email-like function for communicating rapidly and replacing USB sticks which may be inconvenient to carry.
More is in the works from AgNav, including the ability to add cameras for monitoring both the underside of the aircraft and status of crops from aerial imagery. As many as two high resolution cameras can be mounted directly – giving options for viewing in all directions of the flight for even better precision and spray monitoring. Add on live-streaming video and you have a solution that can’t be matched and a potential new source of income.
As light conditions change during flight, you can now take advantages of Dimmer Hub options to control relatively frequent events, such as the sun angle in the cockpit which affects pilot safety. So, simply apply the dimmer switch and the world’s brightest lightbar is at your control – either brighter or dimmer.
A host of new capabilities are being added for fixed wing flight: intelligent radar altimeter options enable new instruments, such as sensors for wind direction, humidity and other effects and are currently available in FlightMaster, the advanced add-on feature of the Platinum. Now, in mosquito control and other missions, wind drift is lessened as an issue.
For chemical applications, AG Flow delivers support for liquid applications in a compact package only requiring one device with a small profile and simplicity. Designed for easy cleaning, the turbine can be removed and cleaned within minutes instead of hours. The secret to the application is a special shaped ball which provides precision control. The pressure switch also indicates whether the aircraft is spraying or not.
With new capabilities, come new applications for the AgNav system. Perhaps the masters at animal tracking and control, the Australians have adopted TraxNav as a standard package to control wild dogs (dingoes) that attack livestock in Australia. In North America, we have our own issues; perhaps wild hogs should be addressed in states such as Texas and Arkansas, where a herd can take out 8 to 10 acres in a night. TraxNav finds and marks predators for further attention and remediation. Things like coyote calls are already being used to draw out predators for hunting purposes and also to protect livestock.
So, as we look to the new season, we can see there is a world of opportunity for aerial applicators. From fixed wing to helicopter, to UAS to ground applications, the future is bright and will reward those who adopt the latest technologies in precision agriculture, mosquito control, animal tracking and control, forestry, ground work and more.
If you would like to learn more about any of the solutions mentioned here or the technologies leading the aerial and ground navigation fields, visit www.agnav.com or see us at the Ag-Nav booth #1013 by the main entrance to the NAAA conference from December 5 to 8, 2016 in California. See you on the web or at NAAA – we can help you get an accelerated start for 2017!