Over the past two years, $685,000 has been invested into technological and equipment upgrades at Eastern Virginia AREC. Nearly half a million of these up-grades came through funding from the General Assembly. These upgrades in-clude:

  • 100-foot-tall RTK GPS tower
  • John Deere 5090R tractor with autosteer
  • John Deere 5055M tractor with auto-steer
  • John Deere 6155M tractor with auto-steer
  • Zurn 150 Plot Combine
  • Zurn D84 Plot Planter

The RTK tower enables the three new autosteer tractors to operate at sub-inch accuracy and has a range of 15-20 miles. This accuracy is critical in laying off, planting, and spraying research plots, and allows the tasks to be completed more efficiently and with less personnel. “The GPS equipment upgrades have already been a great benefit to field operations at EVAREC,” said Dr. Joseph Oakes, EVAREC Superintendent.

RTK Tower

“We are now able to mark of fields for planting with significantly fewer personnel and in less time. For in-stance, laying off a field for small grain headrow plant-ing would normally take 5-6 people for 6+ hours. However, by using an autosteer tractor, one person was able to complete this task in only 4 hours.” The autosteer tractor also ensures that all research plots are planted straight and are the same distance apart, which prevents overlap or underlap of fertility appli-cations to research plots.

headrow planting
planting with autosteer tractor

The purchase of a Zurn 150 plot combine has created many efficiencies at harvest by reducing the time and labor required to harvest research plots and send data to collaborators. “The Zurn is equipped with a HarvestMaster weighing sys-tem that records plot weight, moisture, and test weight as the plots are being harvested,” said Oakes. “Previously, every small plot on the sta-tion would have to be bagged and taken into the seed lab to be weighed and run through a mois-ture meter. You can imagine the time and per-sonnel involved in transporting 8,000 bags from the field to the lab and then having to weigh each one. This is a process that would generally take 10+ people nearly two weeks to complete after harvest. Now, the data is available immediately to us right after harvest, the data can be exported from the com-puter on the combine, and sent to our collaborators and stakeholders as soon as a test is harvested. The Zurn can also be operated by a single individual, as opposed to our older combines which required at least 3 people per combine in order to catch plots in the bag, fold bags, and transport, etc.”

Zurn 150 Plot Combine

“We are extremely grateful to our colleagues in CALS and to the General Assembly for funding these much needed technological and equipment upgrades at EVAREC,” said Oakes. “From an equipment and technology standpoint, we are on par with our peer research station around the country, which not only benefit the faculty and staff at EVAREC, but our collaborators and stake-holders as well.”