AGRICULTURAL OPERATION MONITORING APPARATUS, SYSTEMS AND METHODS
1. A control and monitoring system for an agricultural implement having a plurality of row units, comprising:
- a reflectivity sensor generating a reflectivity signal related to reflectivity of soil worked by at least one of said row units; and
a processor in data communication with said reflectivity sensor, said processor configured to calculate a statistical variation in said reflectivity signal.
Systems, methods and apparatus are provided for monitoring soil properties including soil moisture, soil electrical conductivity and soil temperature. Embodiments include a soil reflectivity sensor and/or a soil temperature sensor for measuring moisture and temperature.
|Systems and method for determining trench closure by a planter or seeder|
Patent #US 10,231,376 B1
Current AssigneeBlue Leaf IP Incorporated
Sponsoring EntityBlue Leaf IP Incorporated
|Sensing system for measuring soil properties in real time|
Patent #US 10,444,176 B2
Current AssigneeDeere Company
Sponsoring EntityDeere Company
- 1. A control and monitoring system for an agricultural implement having a plurality of row units, comprising:
a reflectivity sensor generating a reflectivity signal related to reflectivity of soil worked by at least one of said row units; and a processor in data communication with said reflectivity sensor, said processor configured to calculate a statistical variation in said reflectivity signal.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
In recent years, the availability of advanced location-specific agricultural application and measurement systems (used in so-called “precision farming” practices) has increased grower interest in determining spatial variations in soil properties and in varying input application variables (e.g., planting depth) in light of such variations. However, the available mechanisms for measuring properties such as temperature are either not effectively locally made throughout the field or are not made at the same time as an input (e.g. planting) operation.
Thus, there is a need in the art for a method for monitoring soil properties during an agricultural input application.
Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views,
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In some embodiments, a first set of reflectivity sensors 350, temperature sensors 360, and electrical conductivity sensors 370 are mounted to a soil engaging component 400, such as a seed firmer, disposed to measure reflectivity, temperature and electrical conductivity, respectively, of soil in the trench 38. In some embodiments, a second set of reflectivity sensors 350, temperature sensors 360, and electrical conductivity sensors 370 are mounted to a reference sensor assembly 1800 and disposed to measure reflectivity, temperature and electrical conductivity, respectively, of the soil, preferably at a depth different than the sensors on the seed firmer 400.
In some embodiments, a subset of the sensors are in data communication with the monitor 50 via a bus 60 (e.g., a CAN bus). In some embodiments, the sensors mounted to the seed firmer 400 and the reference sensor assembly 1800 are likewise in data communication with the monitor 50 via the bus 60. However, in the embodiment illustrated in
The seed firmer 400 preferably includes a plurality of reflectivity sensors 350a, 350b. Each reflectivity sensor 350 is preferably disposed and configured to measure reflectivity of soil; in a preferred embodiment, the reflectivity sensor 350 is disposed to measure soil in the trench 38, and preferably at the bottom of the trench. The reflectivity sensor 350 preferably includes a lens disposed in the bottom of the firmer body 490 and disposed to engage the soil at the bottom of the trench 38. In some embodiments the reflectivity sensor 350 comprises one of the embodiments disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,204,689 and/or WO2014/186810, both of which are incorporated by reference herein. In various embodiments, the reflectivity sensor 350 is configured to measure reflectivity in the visible range (e.g., 400 and/or 600 nanometers), in the near-infrared range (e.g., 940 nanometers) and/or elsewhere in the infrared range.
The seed firmer 400 also preferably includes a capacitive moisture sensor 351 disposed and configured to measure capacitance moisture of the soil in the seed trench 38, and preferably at the bottom of trench 38.
The seed firmer 400 also preferably includes an electronic tensiometer sensor 352 disposed and configured to measure soil moisture tension of the soil in the seed trench 38, and preferably at the bottom of trench 38.
Alternatively, soil moisture tension can be extrapolated from capacitive moisture measurements or from reflectivity measurements (such as at 1450 nm). This can be done using a soil water characteristic curve based on the soil type.
The seed firmer 400 preferably includes a temperature sensor 360. The temperature sensor 360 is preferably disposed and configured to measure temperature of soil; in a preferred embodiment, the temperature sensor is disposed to measure soil in the trench 38, preferably at or adjacent the bottom of the trench 38. The temperature sensor 360 preferably includes soil-engaging ears 364, 366 disposed to slidingly engage each side of the trench 38 as the planter traverses the field. The ears 364, 366 preferably engage the trench 38 at or adjacent to the bottom of the trench. The ears 364, 366 are preferably made of a thermally conductive material such as copper. The ears 364 are preferably fixed to and in thermal communication with a central portion 362 housed within the firmer body 490. The central portion 362 preferably comprises a thermally conductive material such as copper; in some embodiments the central portion 362 comprises a hollow copper rod. The central portion 362 is preferably in thermal communication with a thermocouple fixed to the central portion.
The seed firmer preferably includes a plurality of electrical conductivity sensors 370r, 370f. Each electrical conductivity sensor 370 is preferably disposed and configured to measure electrical conductivity of soil; in a preferred embodiment, the electrical conductivity sensor is disposed to measure electrical conductivity of soil in the trench 38, preferably at or adjacent the bottom of the trench 38. The electrical conductivity sensor 370 preferably includes soil-engaging ears 374, 376 disposed to slidingly engage each side of the trench 38 as the planter traverses the field. The ears 374, 376 preferably engage the trench 38 at or adjacent to the bottom of the trench. The ears 374, 376 are preferably made of an electrically conductive material such as copper. The ears 374 are preferably fixed to and in electrical communication with a central portion 372 housed within the firmer body 490. The central portion 372 preferably comprises an electrically conductive material such as copper; in some embodiments the central portion 372 comprises a copper rod. The central portion 372 is preferably in electrical communication with an electrical lead fixed to the central portion. The electrical conductivity sensor can measure the electrical conductivity within a trench by measuring the electrical current between soil-engaging ears 374 and 376.
The reflectivity sensors 350, the capacitive moisture sensors 351, the electronic tensiometer sensors 352, the temperature sensors 360, and the electrical conductivity sensors 370 (collectively, the “firmer-mounted sensors”) are preferably in data communication with the monitor 50. In some embodiments, the firmer-mounted sensors are in data communication with the monitor 50 via a transceiver (e.g., a CAN transceiver) and the bus 60. In other embodiments, the firmer-mounted sensors are in data communication with the monitor 50 via wireless transmitter 62-1 (preferably mounted to the seed firmer) and wireless receiver 64. In some embodiments, the firmer-mounted sensors are in electrical communication with the wireless transmitter 62-1 (or the transceiver) via a multi-pin connector comprising a male coupler 472 and a female coupler 474. In firmer body embodiments having a removable portion 492, the male coupler 472 is preferably mounted to the removable portion and the female coupler 474 is preferably mounted to the remainder of the firmer body 190; the couplers 472, 474 are preferably disposed such that the couplers engage electrically as the removable portion is slidingly mounted to the firmer body.
It should be appreciated that the sensor embodiment of
Each window in the soil data summary 500 preferably shows an average value for all row units (“rows”) at which the measurement is made and optionally the row unit for which the value is highest and/or lowest along with the value associated with such row unit or row units. Selecting (e.g., clicking or tapping) each window preferably shows the individual (row-by-row) values of the data associated with the window for each of the row units at which the measurement is made.
In an alternative embodiment as shown in
The benefit of disposing the sensors on extension 710 is that signal variation generated by a seed as firmer 400 passes over the seed does not need to be subtracted out of the signal. This simplifies the processing of the signal especially when seeds are planted close together, such as with soybeans. Also, the sidewalls of trench 38 are smoother than the bottom of trench 38, which results in less signal variability, which also simplifies the processing of the signal. Also, when sensors are mounted on extension 710, a greater force can be applied so that the sensor has an increased soil contact for increased measurement. As can be appreciated, the firmer 400 has a maximum force that can be applied based on seed to soil contact in given soil conditions so that the seed is planted at a desired depth with desired seed to soil contact and/or to prevent movement of seeds. Also, extension 710 can better protect the sensor and/or camera from rocks during planting as compared to firmer 400.
The extension 710 may include a biasing member 760 disposed to bias the extension in contact with the sidewalls of the trench 38 to provide a more consistent engagement with the soil and thus a more uniform signal by minimizing side-to-side movement of the extension 710 within the trench 38. Examples of various types of biasing members 760 may include, but are not limited to, wing bump, such as shown in
It should be appreciated that if the extension 710 is a guard/scraper, the frictional forces between opening discs 244 and extension 710 can generate heat due to friction, which can cause the extension to approach 150° C. Accordingly, thermal insulation may be desirable between the sensors 350, 351, 352, 360, 370 and the body of the extension 710 to minimize thermal transfer between the body of the extension and the sensors disposed therein or thereon.
In yet another alternative embodiment, as shown in
The screen 800 preferably includes a row identification window 820 which identifies which row is associated with the displayed image. Selecting one of the arrows in the row identification window 820 preferably commands the monitor 50 to load a new screen including an image associated with another, different row of the implement (e.g., captured by a second image capture apparatus associated with that other, different row).
The screen 800 preferably includes numerical or other indications of soil or seed data which the monitor 50 may determine by analyzing one or more images 810 or a portion or portions thereof.
Soil data measurement window 830 preferably displays a soil moisture value associated with the soil in the trench 38. The soil moisture value may be based upon an image analysis of the image 810, e.g., the portion of the image corresponding to the sidewalls 38r, 38l. Generally, the image 810 may be used to determine a moisture value by referencing a database correlating image characteristics (e.g., color, reflectivity) to moisture value. To aid in determining the moisture value, one or more images may be captured at one or more wavelengths; the wavelengths may be selected such that a statistical correlation strength of image characteristics (or an arithmetic combination of image characteristics) with moisture at one or more wavelengths is within a desired range of correlation strength. A wavelength or amplitude of light waves generated by the light source 740 may also be varied to improve image quality at selected image capture wavelengths or to otherwise correspond to the selected image capture wavelengths. Alternatively, a soil moisture value may be based upon capacitive moisture from sensor 351 or soil moisture tension from electronic tensiometer sensor 352. In some implementations, the trench may be divided into portions having different estimated moistures (e.g., the portions of the sidewall 381 above and below the moisture line 38d) and both moistures and/or the depth at which the moisture value changes (e.g., the depth of moisture line 38d) may be reported by the screen 800. It should be appreciated that the moisture values may be mapped spatially using a map similar to the map shown in
Agronomic property window 840 preferably displays an agronomic property value (e.g., residue density, trench depth, trench collapse percentage, trench shape) which may be estimated by analysis of the image 810. For example, a residue density may be calculated by the steps of (1) calculating a soil surface area (e.g., by identifying and measuring the area of a soil surface region identified based on the orientation of the camera and the depth of the trench, or based on the color of the soil surface), (2) calculating a residue coverage area by determining an area of the soil surface region covered by (e.g., by identifying a total area of the soil surface covered by residue, where residue may be identified by areas having a color lighter than a constant threshold or more than a threshold percentage lighter than an average color of the soil surface region), and (3) dividing the residue coverage area by the soil surface area.
Planting criterion window 850 preferably displays a planting criterion such as seed spacing, seed singulation, or seed population. The planting criterion may be calculated using a seed sensor and the algorithms disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 8,078,367, incorporated by reference (“the '"'"'367 patent”). In some implementations, algorithms similar to those disclosed in the '"'"'367 patent may be used in conjunction with a distance between seeds calculated with reference to the image 810. For example, the monitor 50 may (1) identify a plurality of seeds in the image 810 (e.g., by identifying regions of the image having a range of colors empirically associated with seeds); (2) identify one or more image distances between adjacent seeds (e.g., by measuring the length of a line on the image between the centroids of the seeds); (3) convert the image distances to “real space” distances using a mathematical and/or empirical relationship between distances extending along the trench in the image and corresponding distances extending along the actual trench; (4) calculate a planting criterion (e.g., seed population, seed spacing, seed singulation) based on the “real space” distances and/or the image distances.
In one embodiment, the depth of planting can be adjusted based on soil properties measured by the sensors and/or camera so that seeds are planted where the desired temperature, moisture, and/or conductance is found in trench 38. A signal can be sent to the depth adjustment actuator 380 to modify the position of the depth adjustment rocker 268 and thus the height of the gauge wheels 248 to place the seed at the desired depth. In one embodiment, an overall goal is to have the seeds germinate at about the same time. This leads to greater consistency and crop yield. When certain seeds germinate before other seeds, the earlier resulting plants can shade out the later resulting plants to deprive them of needed sunlight and can disproportionately take up more nutrients from the surrounding soil, which reduces the yield from the later germinating seeds. Days to germination is based on a combination of moisture availability (soil moisture tension) and temperature.
In one embodiment, moisture can be measured by volumetric water content or soil moisture tension. The depth can be adjusted when a variation exceeds a desired threshold. For example, the depth can be adjusted deeper when the volumetric water content variation is greater than 5% or when the soil moisture tension variation is greater than 50 kPa.
In another embodiment, the depth of planting can be adjusted until good moisture is obtained. Good moisture is a combination of absolute and moisture variation. For example, good moisture exists when there is greater than 15% volumetric water content or soil moisture tension and less than 5% variation in volumetric water content or soil moisture tension. A good moisture can be greater than 95%.
In another embodiment, a data table can be referenced for combinations of moisture and temperature and correlated to days to emergence. The depth can be controlled to have a consistent days to emergence across the field by moving the depth up or down to combinations of temperature and moisture that provide consistent days to emergence. Alternatively the depth can be controlled to minimize the days to emergence.
In another embodiment, the depth can be adjusted based on a combination of current temperature and moisture conditions in the field and the predicted temperature and moisture delivery from a weather forecast. This process is described in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2016/0037709, which is incorporated herein by reference.
In any of the foregoing embodiments for depth control for moisture, the control can be further limited by a minimum threshold temperature. A minimum threshold temperature (for example 10° C. (50° F.)) can be set so that the planter will not plant below a depth where the minimum threshold temperature is. This can be based on the actual measured temperature or by accounting for the temperature measured at a specific time of day. Throughout the day, soil is heated by sunshine or cooled during night time. The minimum threshold temperature can be based on an average temperature in the soil over a 24 hour period. The difference between actual temperature at a specific time of day and average temperature can be calculated and used to determine the depth for planting so that the temperature is above a minimum threshold temperature.
The soil conditions of conductivity, moisture, temperature, and/or reflectance can be used to directly vary planted population (seeds/acre), nutrient application (gallons/acre), and/or pesticide application (lb./acre) based off of zones created by organic matter, soil moisture, and/or electrical conductivity.
In another embodiment, any of the sensors or camera can be adapted to harvest energy to power the sensor and/or wireless communication. As the sensors are dragged through the soil, the heat generated by soil contact or the motion of the sensors can be used as an energy source for the sensors.
The foregoing description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and is provided in the context of a patent application and its requirements. Various modifications to the preferred embodiment of the apparatus, and the general principles and features of the system and methods described herein will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art. Thus, the present invention is not to be limited to the embodiments of the apparatus, system and methods described above and illustrated in the drawing figures, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the spirit and scope of the appended claims.