Dawn Equipment, a Sycamore, Ill.,-based manufacturer of actively controlled planter attachments has entered into agreement with 640 Labs, a Chicago-based agriculture analytics company and manufacturer of the 640 Drive data acquisition device, to provide farmers access to ground hardness data and machine control features of Dawn hydraulic actuation products on an open platform. Dawn user data is maintained in a private cloud and any third party use of their data requires them to specifically opt in to those services.

The Dawn RFX/RFX+ actuation products, used in conjunction with the Dawn MiFX controller and patented ground hardness sensors, provide real-time adjustment of down pressure on each row unit resulting in consistent seed depth regardless of varying soil compaction. The Dawn RFX/RFX+ actuation product will be offered in multiple configurations, from 3 control sections up to row-by-row control, exclusively for John Deere XP planter row units.

The Dawn RFX range of planter down pressure products integrates accumulators directly into the actuator allowing them to store hydraulic energy. This unique feature reduces wear on the planter row unit and greatly reduces hydraulic and electric power consumption, eliminating the need for additional electrical generation equipment on even the largest John Deere DB configuration. The Dawn MiFX embedded controller, along with the RFX+ hydraulic control module, is installed on any row with a ground hardness sensor. The Dawn MiFX controller utilizes the existing gauge wheel load sensor included in the Deere Active Down Pressure kit, lowering cost and simplifying support. Farmers can add additional ground hardness sensors to any other rows they wish. Each MiFX controller has a user assignable identity that associates it with the appropriate RFX+ integrated control module.

Planter control functions such as the target planter down pressure and zero load calibration setting are configured on the Dawn MiFX iOS app and transmitted via CANBUS to the MiFX controllers. The 640 Drive collects all planter settings, ground hardness sensor readings and GPS information real-time, transmitting it via Bluetooth® to an iPad® running the Dawn MiFX app. The app allows the farmer to visualize ground hardness data in real time over a satellite map of their field on the iPad. The MiFX control system is typically capable of 1-2 meter data resolution. If a mobile data network is available, ground hardness maps can be automatically uploaded to the 640 Labs Dashboard, or data can be stored locally and uploaded at a later time. The Dawn MiFX app will be available in the Apple® App Store.

The 640 Drive adapter optimized for Dawn, bundled with the MiFX iOS application, sells for $1000. The Dawn RFX/MiFX system, configured for a 16 row 1770NT planter with a 3-section installation will have an average per row cost of $595, for row-by-row control this raises to $985 per row. The system will go on sale at the end of January 2014.

Both Dawn and 640 Labs are committed to building seamless farm informatics systems that give users choice - not only over the products they use, but over how the data they generate is used to inform agronomic decisions on their farm.