US20150305226A1 - System and method for sensor-based crop management - Google Patents

System and method for sensor-based crop management Download PDF

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US20150305226A1
US20150305226A1 US14/695,753 US201514695753A US2015305226A1 US 20150305226 A1 US20150305226 A1 US 20150305226A1 US 201514695753 A US201514695753 A US 201514695753A US 2015305226 A1 US2015305226 A1 US 2015305226A1
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agricultural
implement
sensor
soil
operating state
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US14/695,753
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Robert A. Zemenchik
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CNH Industrial America LLC
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CNH Industrial America LLC
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01BSOIL WORKING IN AGRICULTURE OR FORESTRY; PARTS, DETAILS, OR ACCESSORIES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES OR IMPLEMENTS, IN GENERAL
    • A01B79/00Methods for working soil
    • A01B79/005Precision agriculture
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01BSOIL WORKING IN AGRICULTURE OR FORESTRY; PARTS, DETAILS, OR ACCESSORIES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES OR IMPLEMENTS, IN GENERAL
    • A01B63/00Lifting or adjusting devices or arrangements for agricultural machines or implements
    • A01B63/14Lifting or adjusting devices or arrangements for agricultural machines or implements for implements drawn by animals or tractors
    • A01B63/24Tools or tool-holders adjustable relatively to the frame
    • A01B63/32Tools or tool-holders adjustable relatively to the frame operated by hydraulic or pneumatic means without automatic control
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01BSOIL WORKING IN AGRICULTURE OR FORESTRY; PARTS, DETAILS, OR ACCESSORIES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES OR IMPLEMENTS, IN GENERAL
    • A01B67/00Devices for controlling the tractor motor by resistance of tools
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01BSOIL WORKING IN AGRICULTURE OR FORESTRY; PARTS, DETAILS, OR ACCESSORIES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES OR IMPLEMENTS, IN GENERAL
    • A01B71/00Construction or arrangement of setting or adjusting mechanisms, of implement or tool drive or of power take-off; Means for protecting parts against dust, or the like; Adapting machine elements to or for agricultural purposes
    • A01B71/02Setting or adjusting mechanisms
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01BSOIL WORKING IN AGRICULTURE OR FORESTRY; PARTS, DETAILS, OR ACCESSORIES OF AGRICULTURAL MACHINES OR IMPLEMENTS, IN GENERAL
    • A01B76/00Parts, details or accessories of agricultural machines or implements, not provided for in groups A01B51/00 - A01B75/00
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C21/00Methods of fertilizing, sowing or planting
    • A01C21/005Following a specific plan, e.g. pattern
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C21/00Methods of fertilizing, sowing or planting
    • A01C21/007Determining fertilization requirements
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C7/00Sowing
    • A01C7/08Broadcast seeders; Seeders depositing seeds in rows
    • A01C7/10Devices for adjusting the seed-box Regulation of machines for depositing quantities at intervals
    • A01C7/102Regulating or controlling the seed rate
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N27/00Investigating or analysing materials by the use of electric, electro-chemical, or magnetic means
    • G01N27/02Investigating or analysing materials by the use of electric, electro-chemical, or magnetic means by investigating the impedance of the material
    • G01N27/028Circuits therefor
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N33/00Investigating or analysing materials by specific methods not covered by groups G01N1/00 - G01N31/00
    • G01N33/24Earth materials
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S15/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of acoustic waves, e.g. sonar systems
    • G01S15/88Sonar systems specially adapted for specific applications
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G25/00Watering gardens, fields, sports grounds or the like
    • A01G25/16Control of watering
    • A01G25/167Control by humidity of the soil itself or of devices simulating soil or of the atmosphere; Soil humidity sensors
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N33/00Investigating or analysing materials by specific methods not covered by groups G01N1/00 - G01N31/00
    • G01N33/24Earth materials
    • G01N2033/245Earth materials for agricultural purposes
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01VGEOPHYSICS; GRAVITATIONAL MEASUREMENTS; DETECTING MASSES OR OBJECTS
    • G01V3/00Electric or magnetic prospecting or detecting; Measuring magnetic field characteristics of the earth, e.g. declination, deviation
    • G01V3/15Electric or magnetic prospecting or detecting; Measuring magnetic field characteristics of the earth, e.g. declination, deviation specially adapted for use during transport, e.g. by a person, vehicle or boat
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02PCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN THE PRODUCTION OR PROCESSING OF GOODS
    • Y02P60/00Technologies relating to agriculture, livestock or agroalimentary industries
    • Y02P60/20Reduction of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions in agriculture
    • Y02P60/21N2O
    • Y02P60/212Reducing the use of fertilizers
    • Y02P60/214Efficient applying machines

Abstract

An agricultural system includes a sensor positioned forward of an agricultural implement relative to a direction of travel of the agricultural system. The sensor is configured to output a first signal indicative of at least one soil property associated with an operation of the agricultural implement. The system also includes a controller communicatively coupled to the sensor. The controller is configured to output a second signal indicative of instructions to control the operation of the agricultural implement based on the first signal.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority from and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/984,471, entitled “System for Mounting an Agricultural Soil Analyzer to Agricultural Implement”, filed Apr. 25, 2014, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The invention relates generally to agricultural systems and, more particularly, to a system and method for sensor-based crop management.
  • Certain agricultural operators may conduct soil analysis before beginning planting operations in agricultural fields. Soil analysis may facilitate in planning of planting operations, thereby increasing yield and/or planting efficiency. For example, an analysis identifying specific areas having a rough or uneven soil surface may influence soil conditioning operations in the specific areas. Moreover, soil analysis may identify areas of the agricultural field having preferable conditions for planting. As a result, operators may reduce waste and save time by limiting planting and/or conditioning to desirable areas of an agricultural field. However, typical soil analysis may be time consuming, expensive, and data intensive.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION
  • In one embodiment, an agricultural system includes a sensor positioned forward of an agricultural implement relative to a direction of travel of the agricultural system. The sensor is configured to output a first signal indicative of at least one soil property associated with an operation of the agricultural implement. The system also includes a controller communicatively coupled to the sensor. The controller is configured to output a second signal indicative of instructions to control the operation of the agricultural implement based on the first signal.
  • In another embodiment, a method of controlling an agricultural system includes outputting a signal indicative of the at least one soil property to a controller via a sensor. The sensor is positioned forward of the agricultural implement relative to a direction of travel. The method also includes receiving the signal, via the controller, indicative of at least one property of an agricultural field. The method further includes determining whether the at least one property of the agricultural field is within a desired range. The method also includes controlling an operating state of an agricultural implement based on the at least one soil property.
  • In another embodiment, a method of controlling an agricultural system includes outputting a first signal indicative of instructions to control the operation of an agricultural implement at a first operating state. The method also includes receiving a second signal, via a sensor, indicative of at least one soil property of the agricultural field. The method further includes outputting a third signal indicative of instructions to change the operation of the agricultural field to a second operating state, based on the second signal. The second operating state is different than the first operating state. The method also includes controlling an application rate of an agricultural product based on the second signal.
  • DRAWINGS
  • These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood when the following detailed description is read with reference to the accompanying drawings in which like characters represent like parts throughout the drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a side view of an embodiment of an agricultural system, including a tow vehicle, a sensor, and an agricultural implement;
  • FIG. 2 is a side view of another embodiment of an agricultural system, including a sensor mounted forward of a tow vehicle and an agricultural implement mounted rearward of the tow vehicle.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic view of the agricultural system of FIG. 1, including a sensor mounted forward of the agricultural implement;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a control system for controlling an agricultural system; and
  • FIG. 5 is a flow chart of an embodiment of a method for controlling an agricultural system.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • One or more specific embodiments of the present disclosure will be described below. In an effort to provide a concise description of these embodiments, all features of an actual implementation may not be described in the specification. It should be appreciated that in the development of any such actual implementation, as in any engineering or design project, numerous implementation-specific decisions must be made to achieve the developers' specific goals, such as compliance with system-related and business-related constraints, which may vary from one implementation to another. Moreover, it should be appreciated that such a development effort might be complex and time consuming, but would nevertheless be a routine undertaking of design, fabrication, and manufacture for those of ordinary skill having the benefit of this disclosure.
  • When introducing elements of various embodiments of the present disclosure, the articles “a,” “an,” “the,” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements. Any examples of operating parameters and/or environmental conditions are not exclusive of other parameters/conditions of the disclosed embodiments.
  • The embodiments described herein relate to a system and method for sensor-based crop management. In certain embodiments, a sensor (e.g., an acoustic analyzer, a chemical analyzer, an optical analyzer, an electromagnetic analyzer, etc.) is positioned proximate to or in contact with a surface of an agricultural field. The sensor is configured to output a signal indicative of a soil property of the agricultural field. For instance, a chemical analyzer may receive a soil sample, analyze the soil sample, and output a signal indicative of a soil property (e.g., nitrogen levels, moisture content, etc.). Alternatively or additionally, the sensor (e.g., optical analyzer, electromagnetic analyzer, etc.) may send and/or receive energy to the agricultural field to obtain measurements and output a signal indicative of soil properties. In certain embodiments, the sensor is communicatively coupled to a controller that receives the signal indicative of the soil property from the sensor and adjusts an operating parameter of an agricultural implement (e.g., planter, seeder) based on the signal. For example, based on the nitrogen content of the soil sample, the controller may instruct the seeder to control deposition of seeds over a segment of the agricultural field. Furthermore, based on the nitrogen content of the soil sample, the controller may instruct a fertilizing implement to control the fertilizer deposition over a segment of the agricultural field. As a result, planting and/or fertilizing operations may be more efficient because agricultural product is deposited in areas based on a real time/near real time determination of soil conditions.
  • Soil analysis may be conducted in a variety of ways. For example, soil samples may be removed from an agricultural field and analyzed in a laboratory setting. Additionally, non-contact and/or soil surface sensors may be used to obtain various soil properties while reducing disturbance of the agricultural field. Typically, when using non-contact sensors, operators conduct soil analysis separately from planting, fertilizing, and/or tilling operations. For example, one pass may be used to conduct soil analysis, in which the operator tows equipment over the agricultural field to obtain data for evaluation. The data may then be evaluated to generate soil maps or yield maps indicating a variety of field properties. The soil maps may be used to direct future planting, fertilizing, and/or tilling operations. Then, subsequent passes may be used to condition the soil, fertilize the soil, and/or deposit seeds into the soil, among other agricultural operations. During the planting, fertilizing, and/or tilling process, the operator may consult the soil maps to adjust planting rates, fertilizing rates, and/or tilling operations based on the properties obtained from the soil analysis. Using multiple passes increases the cost and the time it takes for operators to condition, fertilize, plant, and/or till the field. Combining the soil analysis and conditioning, fertilizing, planting, and/or tilling processes obviates at least one field pass that operators may make when preparing fields for planting, while planting, and/or when fertilizing the field. Moreover, by conducting soil analysis concurrently with agricultural operations, current data related to soil conditions is generated, such as roughness, salinity, cation exchange capacity, clay content, or the like is more recent and/or “fresher” than utilizing two-pass methods. As a result, efficiency may be increased, along with yields.
  • FIG. 1 is a side view of an embodiment of an agricultural system 10. The agricultural system 10 includes a tow vehicle 12, a sensor 14 (e.g., a soil analyzer) and an agricultural implement 16. The tow vehicle 12 may be any vehicle suitable for towing the agricultural implement 16, such as a tractor, off-road vehicle, work vehicle, or the like. Additionally, although the illustrated implement is a planter, the agricultural implement 16 may be any suitable implement, such as a ground engaging implement (e.g., a soil conditioner, a tillage implement, a fertilizer implement, etc.) or a sprayer/applicator, suitable for agricultural use.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the sensor 14 is positioned between the tow vehicle 12 and the agricultural implement 16 relative to the direction of travel 24. For example, the sensor 14 may be coupled to the tow vehicle 12 via a hitch 18. However, in other embodiments, the sensor 14 may be coupled to a frame 20 of the agricultural implement 16. As used herein, the sensor 14 refers to a device sensitive to a property of an agricultural field (e.g., salinity, nitrogen level, moisture content, roughness, grade, etc.) and that transmits a signal indicative of the property to a controller, storage device, indicator, or a combination thereof. For example, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 may include a chemical analyzer configured to obtain a soil sample, evaluate the soil sample for at least one desired property, and to output a signal indicative of the soil property to a controller for utilization in planting, fertilizing, or soil conditioning operations. Moreover, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 may be a non-contact or minimal contact sensor configured to transmit energy into the soil (e.g., acoustic waves, electromechanical energy, etc.) and receive energy returned from the soil. Accordingly, the sensor 14 may be any suitable device capable of outputting a signal indicative of a property of an agricultural field. For example, the sensor 14 may be positioned proximate to the agricultural field while obtaining data. As used herein, proximate refers to a position above or at the soil surface. In certain embodiments, proximate may refer to a distance that does not penetrate a surface 22 of the soil, but is close enough to facilitate accurate measurements. For example, the sensor 14 may be six inches, twelve inches, twenty four inches, or any suitable distance from the surface 22, as long as the emitted energy (e.g., acoustic, electromagnetic, etc.) is able to reach the surface 22 and the resulting return energy is able to reach to the sensor 14. However, in other embodiments, the sensor 14 may penetrate the surface 22. For example, the sensor 14 may include a chemical analyzer that penetrates the surface to obtain a soil sample. Moreover, as discussed in detail below, the sensor 14 may include integrated electronic/software components or systems, e.g., including a global positioning system (GPS), data acquisition software, and the like.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the agricultural implement 16 is attached to the tow vehicle 12 via the frame 20. The agricultural system 10 travels over the surface 22, such as the ground, a road, a field, or another surface. The tow vehicle 12 is configured to drive the agricultural implement 16 in a direction of travel 24. Moreover, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 may be mounted to the front of the tow vehicle 12 and/or to the front of the agricultural implement 16. As will be discussed in detail below, by mounting the sensor 14 in front of the agricultural implement 16 relative to the direction of travel 24, analysis (e.g., planting spatial analysis, fertilizer placement analysis, etc.) of the undisturbed field (e.g., untilled, unconditioned, unfertilized etc.) may be obtained and used to modify operating parameters of the agricultural implement 16. For example, in certain embodiments, a controller may receive the signal output by the soil analyzer and may provide operating instructions to the agricultural implement 16 to adjust planting operations based on the signal. For instance, fewer seeds may be deposited in an area of soil where nitrogen levels are below a desired value. As a result, the controller may instruct a meter roller to decrease the quantity of seeds directed toward the surface 22 while the implement 16 is positioned within the low-nitrogen region. Additionally, fertilizer application levels may be increased in areas in which low nitrogen levels are detected. Moreover, in certain embodiments, seed selection may vary based on properties of the soil. For example, seeds configured to grow in lower fertilizer levels may be deposited in areas of the agricultural field having lower nitrogen levels. Furthermore, the seed selection may be controlled over the width of the implement 16 or row-by-row. Additionally, in other embodiments, the controller may instruct a tillage implement (e.g., a harrow) to increase a penetration depth of discs in an area of the soil where clay content is above a desired value. Moreover, in certain embodiments, the controller may instruct a soil conditioning implement (e.g., a rolling basket) to increase a downward force exerted on the surface 22 in an area of the soil where surface roughness is above a desired value.
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the agricultural system 10, in which the sensor 14 is coupled to the front end of the tow vehicle 12, relative to the direction of travel 24. The sensor 14 may include at least one sensing device capable of determining a property of the agricultural field. For example, the sensor 14 may include a chemical soil analyzer, an acoustic soil analyzer, an electromagnetic analyzer, or the like. Moreover, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 includes multiple sensing devices to enable analysis of multiple properties of the agricultural field and/or independent analysis of multiple swaths (e.g., cover a width as wide as the agricultural implement 16) of the agricultural field.
  • As described above, positioning the sensor 14 up-field of the agricultural implement 16 (e.g., farther forward relative to the direction of travel 24) enables real-time or near real-time analysis and control of planting, fertilizing, and/or conditioning operations. For example, if the sensor 14 outputs a signal to a controller indicative of a soil property that is below a threshold value, the controller may modify agricultural operations to enhance efficiency and/or increase yield. For example, the controller may instruct a fertilizing implement to increase fertilizer levels applied to the agricultural field while the sensor 14 detects insufficient nitrogen levels in the soil. Moreover, the controller may instruct a planting implement to deposit fewer seeds in an area having undesirable planting properties, such as salinity, nitrogen levels, clay content, moisture content, and the like. Additionally, the controller may instruct a tillage implement to decrease a penetration depth of discs in an area having a low clay content. In other embodiments, the controller may instruct a soil conditioning implement to decrease a downward pressure of rolling baskets in an area having a surface roughness below the threshold value.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of the agricultural system 10 traveling through the agricultural field in the direction of travel 24. In the illustrated embodiment, the sensor 14 is positioned between the tow vehicle 12 and the agricultural implement 16. Moreover, the sensor 14 includes a plurality of sensing devices 26 distributed along a sensor axis 28 (e.g., which is perpendicular to the direction of travel 24). While the illustrated embodiment includes twelve sensing devices 26, in other embodiments, there may be more or fewer sensing devices 26. For example, there may be 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, or any suitable number of sensing devices 26 included within the sensor 14 to output signals indicative of properties of the agricultural field. Each sensing device 26 is configured to monitor a swath 30 of the agricultural field. As a result, individual passes through the agricultural field may determine soil properties for each swath 30, thereby increasing the precision of planting, fertilizing, and/or conditioning operations. For example, each swath 30 may be approximately 10 inches wide. However, in other embodiments, the swaths 30 may be wider or narrower. For example, the swaths 30 may be 1 inch wide, 5 inches wide, 1 foot wide, 5 feet wide, 10 feet wide, or any other suitable distance. It will be appreciated that narrower swaths 30 may enable greater precision of agricultural operations than wider swaths 30. However, in certain embodiments, the properties of the agricultural field being evaluated may be less variable over the swaths 30, thereby enabling wider swaths 30 without an appreciable loss in precision. Furthermore, in certain embodiments, the swath 30 may be different widths.
  • As the tow vehicle 12 moves the agricultural implement 16 through the agricultural field in the direction of travel 24, the sensor 14 monitors the swaths 30 of the soil before the agricultural implement 16 is positioned substantially above the respective swaths 30 to conduct agricultural operations (e.g., planting, tilling, fertilizing, conditioning etc.). Because the sensor 14 monitors the soil before the agricultural implement 16 interacts with the soil, changes to agricultural operations may be implemented in real-time or near real-time to improve agricultural operations. For example, based on feedback from the sensor 14 more or fewer seeds may be deposited and/or more or less fertilizer may be applied to the agricultural field, thereby reducing costs and/or increasing yield. Additionally, a penetration depth of discs may be increased or decreased and/or a downward pressure of a rolling basket may be increased or decreased, based on feedback from the sensor 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the agricultural implement 16 includes agricultural features 32 configured to interact with the soil. For example, in embodiments in which the agricultural implement 16 is a planter or seeder, the agricultural features 32 may include seed tubes configured to deposit agricultural product (e.g., seeds) into furrows formed in the soil. Moreover, in other embodiments, the agricultural features 32 may include spray nozzles of a fertilizing implement configured to direct fertilizer onto the soil surface 22. Additionally, in certain embodiments, the agricultural features 32 may include harrows of a tillage implement or rolling baskets of a soil conditioning implement.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the agricultural features 32 are aligned with respective swaths 30 and sensing devices 26. That is, the sensing devices 26 are aligned with the agricultural features 32 to facilitate analysis and agricultural operational control over planting, fertilizing, tilling, and/or conditioning of the respective swaths 30. For example, the sensing device 26 a is aligned with the swath 30 a. The information obtained by and output from the sensing device 26 a may be utilized to control operation of the agricultural feature 32 a, thereby enabling specific, directed action to the swath 30 a based on the properties of the soil in swath 30 a. For example, the fertilizer rate applied by the agricultural feature 32 a may be decreased while the sensing device 26 a aligned with the swath 30 a detects a nitrogen level above a threshold maximum value. However, the fertilizer rate may remain constant while the sensing device 26 a aligned with the swath 30 a detects a nitrogen level within a range between the threshold maximum value and a threshold minimum value. Moreover, the fertilizer rate may be increased while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a nitrogen level below the threshold minimum value. In certain embodiments, the seed deposition rate applied by the agricultural feature 32 a may be decreased while the sensing device 26 a aligned with the swath 30 a detects a nitrogen level below a threshold minimum value. However, the seed deposition rate may remain constant while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a nitrogen level within a range between the threshold minimum and a threshold maximum value. Additionally, the seed deposition rate may be increased while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a nitrogen level above the threshold maximum value. Furthermore, a harrow penetration depth may be decreased while the sensing device 26 a aligned with the swath 30 a detects a soil clay content below a threshold minimum value. However, the harrow penetration depth may remain constant while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a soil clay content within a range between a threshold maximum value and the threshold minimum value. Moreover, the harrow penetration depth may be increased with the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a soil clay content above the threshold maximum value. Additionally, in certain embodiments, a rolling basket pressure may be decreased while the sensing device 26 a aligned with the swath 30 a detects a soil roughness value below a threshold minimum value. However, the rolling basket pressure may remain constant while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a soil roughness value within a range between a threshold maximum value and the threshold minimum value. Moreover, the rolling basket pressure may be increased while the sensing device 26 b aligned with the swath 30 b detects a soil roughness value above the threshold maximum value. Accordingly, the swaths 30 may be individually fertilized, conditioned, tilled, and/or planted based on properties detected by the sensing devices 26 to enhance agricultural operations.
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a control system 50 configured to control the agricultural system 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the control system 50 includes a controller 52 having a memory 54 and a processor 56. The memory 54 may be any type of non-transitory machine readable medium for storing data and executable instructions, such as random-access memory, read-only memory, rewritable flash memory, hard drives, optical drives, and the like. The processor 56 may execute instructions stored on the memory 54. For example, the memory 54 may contain machine readable code, such as instructions, that may be executed by the processor 56. In some embodiments, the memory 54 and the processor 56 may enable automatic (e.g., processor/memory controlled) operation of the agricultural implement 16.
  • The operator may interact with a user interface 58 (e.g., via push buttons, dials, touch screen interfaces, etc.) to send and/or receive information and/or instructions indicative of agricultural operations. For example, the operator may instruct the controller 52 via the user interface 38 to transmit a signal to the agricultural implement 16 to set a desired seeding rate and/or fertilizing rate. Additionally, in certain embodiments, the operator may set a desired tilling depth or soil conditioning pressure. Moreover, the rates may be individually controlled for each swath 30. Additionally, the controller 52 may display an indication to alert the operator if seed levels are low, fertilizer levels are low, or the like.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the controller 52 is communicatively coupled to the sensor 14. As a result, the sensor 14 may output signals indicative of soil properties to the controller 52. For instance, the sensor 14 may output a signal indicative of a nitrogen level of the soil to the controller 52. The controller 52 may evaluate the signal, e.g., via the processor 56 utilizing code stored in the memory 54, to determine if the nitrogen level is above a maximum threshold value, below a minimum threshold value, within a desired range, or the like. Moreover, based on the evaluation of the signal from the sensor 14, the controller 52 may send a signal to the agricultural implement 16 to direct agricultural operations. For example, the seed deposition rate may be controlled and/or or the type of seed (e.g., genetic variety) may be adjusted during planting operations. Additionally, the fertilizer deposition rate may be controlled during fertilizing operations. Furthermore, the depth of the agricultural features 32 may be controlled during tillage operations and/or the pressure applied to the surface 22 by rolling baskets may be controlled during conditioning operations.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the controller 52 and the sensor 14 are communicatively coupled to an interface module 60. In certain embodiments, the sensor 14 and/or the controller 52 may output signals indicative of data (e.g., nitrogen levels, clay content of the soil, moisture content of the soil, surface roughness, etc.) to the interface module 60 for collection, storage, and/or further analysis. In some embodiments, the interface module 60 may interface with an ISOBUS network. However, in other embodiments, the interface module 60 may interface with a CANBUS network, data processing software, or the like. For instance, the interface module 60 may be communicatively coupled to a wireless transceiver 62 configured to wirelessly (e.g., via cellular signals, 4G, Wi-Fi, or the like) output data to a second wireless transceiver 64 communicatively coupled to a remote sever 66. However, in other embodiments, the data may be transferred via wired transmitters (e.g., USB, category 5, etc.) or removable storage devices (e.g., USB memory sticks, portable hard drives, etc.) to the remote server 66, for example. The remote sever 66 (e.g., remote storage database, cloud database, etc.) may store the data for later analysis. For instance, transfer of the data to the remote server 66 may enable access to the data to facilitate preparation of soil maps concurrently with monitoring the soil. For instance, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 and controller 52 may monitor soil properties in one pass, and then a subsequent soil conditioning pass, a fertilizing pass, a tilling pass, and/or a planting pass may use the data acquired by the controller 52 to control agricultural operations. However, in other embodiments, software configured to generate three dimensional field maps may be loaded onto the memory 54, and the processor 56 may generate maps in real-time and/or near real-time during data acquisition. Accordingly, agricultural operations may be performed and/or planned in real-time or near real-time as the implement 16 travels across the field (e.g., planned during the same data acquisition pass).
  • FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method 80 for controlling agricultural operations of the agricultural implement 16. Initial operating parameters of the agricultural implement 16 are set at block 82. For example, the operator may set an initial seed deposition rate, an initial fertilizer deposition rate, an initial seed type (e.g., suitable for expected field conditions), or a combination thereof. In certain embodiments, the initial operating parameters are based on prior agricultural operations from a previous season or from pre-determined soil maps. The sensor 14 conducts data acquisition at block 84. For example, the sensing devices 26 may interrogate the soil surface 22 to determine selected soil properties. For example, the sensing devices 26 may include acoustic analyzers that emit acoustic waves toward the soil surface 22 and receive reflected acoustic waves from the soil surface 22. In certain embodiments, the sensor 14 may include circuitry configured to analyze the data acquired by the sensing devices 26. For example, the reflected acoustic waves may be evaluated to determine a roughness of the soil based on the reflected acoustic waves. Moreover, in other embodiments, the sensing devices 26 may include chemical analyzers that obtain a soil sample, analyze the composition of the soil, and determine a property of the soil based on the analysis. For example, the chemical analyzer may determine the nitrogen level of the soil. Furthermore, in certain embodiments, multiple properties of the soil may be determined by the sensor 14. However, in other embodiments, the sensor 14 may output a signal indicative of a soil property to the controller 52 for analysis and evaluation.
  • The sensor 14 outputs a signal indicative of the soil property to the controller 52 at block 86. For example, in certain embodiments, the sensor 14 may output the signal to the controller 52 for analysis. The acquired data is evaluated at operator 88. For example, the controller 52 may evaluate whether the soil property is within a specified range. In certain embodiments, the range may include a threshold minimum value, a threshold maximum value, or a combination thereof. For example, the range may include a threshold minimum value corresponding to the nitrogen content of the soil, moisture content of the soil, surface roughness of the soil, and the like. In embodiments in which the soil property is within the specified range, the controller 52 may transmit a signal to the agricultural implement 16 to maintain the initial operating parameter at block 90. For example, the controller 52 may determine the moisture content of the soil based a signal indicative of moisture content output by the sensor 14, determine that the moisture content is within the specified range, and instruct the agricultural implement 16 to continue depositing seeds at the initial deposition rate. Thereafter, the sensor 14 may continue to conduct data acquisition at block 84 as the tow vehicle 12 moves the agricultural implement 16 through the agricultural field. However, in embodiments in which the soil property is outside of the specified range, the controller 52 may output a signal to the agricultural implement 16 to adjust the operating parameter from the initial operating parameter to an adjusted operating parameter at block 92. For example, the controller 52 may determine the moisture content of the soil, determine that the moisture content is below a minimum threshold value, and instruct a seeding implement to decrease seed deposition rates. Thereafter, the sensor may conduct additional data acquisition at block 84. Accordingly, the soil properties may be continuously monitored and adjusted during planting, fertilizing, soil conditioning, tailing, and/or other agricultural operations to increase efficiencies and/or improve yield.
  • As described in detail above, the disclosed embodiments include the sensor 14 configured to output a signal indicative of properties of the soil of the agricultural field. For example, the sensor 14 may be positioned proximate or in contact with the agricultural field to obtain data indicative of the soil properties. The sensor 14 may be communicatively coupled to the controller 52 such that the sensor 14 may output the signal indicative of the properties to the controller 52 for analysis. The controller 52 may compare the soil properties to pre-set ranges (e.g., threshold minimums, threshold maximums, etc.) to determine whether adjustments to agricultural operations would improve efficiencies or yields. For example, the controller 52 may instruct the agricultural implement 16 to deposit seeds having desired properties in areas of the field having conditions suitable for seeds having the desired properties. Moreover, the sensor 14 and controller 52 may continuously monitor and/or adjust the operating parameters of the agricultural implement 16 throughout planting, fertilizing, conditioning, tilling, and/or other agricultural operations.
  • While only certain features of the invention have been illustrated and described herein, many modifications and changes will occur to those skilled in the art. It is, therefore, to be understood that the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit of the invention.

Claims (20)

1. An agricultural system, comprising:
a sensor positioned forward of an agricultural implement relative to a direction of travel of the agricultural system, wherein the sensor is configured to output a first signal indicative of at least one soil property associated with an operation of the agricultural implement; and
a controller communicatively coupled to the sensor, wherein the controller is configured to output a second signal indicative of instructions to control the operation of the agricultural implement based on the first signal.
2. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the second signal is configured to change the operation of the agricultural implement from an initial operating state to an adjusted operating state, the adjusted operating state being different from the initial operating state.
3. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the agricultural implement comprises a seeding implement, and the operation comprises a seed deposition rate.
4. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the agricultural implement comprises a seeding implement, and the operation comprises a seed-type selection.
5. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the agricultural implement comprises a fertilizing implement, and the operation comprises a fertilizer deposition rate.
6. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the agricultural implement comprises a tilling implement, and the operation comprises a harrow disc penetration depth.
7. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the agricultural implement comprises a soil conditioner, and the operation comprises a rolling basket pressure.
8. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the sensor comprises an acoustic analyzer, a chemical analyzer, an electromechanical analyzer, or a combination thereof.
9. The agricultural system of claim 1, wherein the sensor comprises a plurality of sensing devices, wherein each sensing device of the plurality of sensing devices is configured to output a respective first signal indicative of the at least one soil property associated with the operation of the agricultural implement, and the controller is configured to control each of a plurality of agricultural features via the second signal based on the respective first signal from a corresponding sensing device of the plurality of sensing devices.
10. The agricultural system of claim 9, wherein the respective first signal from each of the plurality of sensing devices is indicative of the at least one soil property over a swath of the agricultural field and each of the plurality of agricultural features corresponds to a respective swath of the agricultural field.
11. A method of controlling an agricultural system, comprising:
outputting a signal indicative of the at least one soil property to a controller via a sensor, wherein the sensor is positioned forward of the agricultural implement relative to a direction of travel;
receiving the signal, via the controller, indicative of at least one property of an agricultural field;
determining whether the at least one property of the agricultural field is within a desired range; and
controlling an operating state of an agricultural implement based on the at least one soil property.
12. The method of claim 11, comprising setting an initial operating state of the agricultural implement.
13. The method of claim 12, comprising adjusting the initial operating state of the agricultural implement to an adjusted operating state based on the at least one soil property, wherein the adjusted operating state is different than the initial operating state.
14. The method of claim 12, comprising maintaining operation at the initial operating state if the at least one property of the agricultural field is within the desired range.
15. The method of claim 11, comprising adjusting the operating state of the agricultural implement if the at least one property of the agricultural field is outside of the desired range.
16. A method of controlling an agricultural system, comprising:
outputting a first signal indicative of instructions to control the operation of an agricultural implement at a first operating state;
receiving a second signal, via a sensor, indicative of at least one soil property of the agricultural field;
outputting a third signal indicative of instructions to change the operation of the agricultural field to a second operating state, based on the second signal, wherein the second operating state is different than the first operating state; and
controlling an application rate of an agricultural product based on the second signal.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the sensor is positioned forward of the agricultural implement.
18. The method of claim 16, comprising continuously adjusting the operation of the agricultural implement based on the at least one soil property.
19. The method of claim 16, comprising increasing the application rate of the agricultural product while the at least soil property is above a threshold maximum value, and decreasing the application rate of the agricultural product while the at least one soil property is below a threshold minimum value.
20. The method of claim 16, comprising maintaining the application rate of the agricultural product while the at least one soil property is within a desired range defined by a threshold minimum value and a threshold maximum value.
US14/695,753 2014-04-25 2015-04-24 System and method for sensor-based crop management Pending US20150305226A1 (en)

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US14/695,945 Active 2036-08-19 US10028424B2 (en) 2014-04-25 2015-04-24 System for mounting an agricultural soil analyzer to agricultural implement
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US10028424B2 (en) 2018-07-24
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US20170064900A1 (en) 2017-03-09
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