For most, the word Wireless invokes various thoughts from accessing mails in a coffee shop to chatting with long distance friends on the touch or booking tickets at a go.

Can anyone dream of Wireless Agriculture? Difficult but true!!!!

Studies by Texas AgriLife Research scientists reveal that Wireless agriculture is yielding benefits in rice and cotton. Increasingly Wireless is shown up on the farm to help produce better crops that lead to better prices to the grower and better products for consumers, according to experts.

We're working on a system that uses wireless sensing in rice production, said Lee Tarpley, AgriLife Research plant physiologist in Beaumont. We'd like to be able to continuously monitor field conditions such as temperature and soil moisture, and using sensors allows us to do that. We can put them in the field and collect the data from them inside on our computer.

We can't do that using the more typical wired sensing network because the cost of running the cables out to the field would be too expensive, he said.

Even as Tarpley's research focuses on wireless monitoring during the growing season, another system has been developed for use during cotton harvest time, according to Alex Thomasson, AgriLife Research agricultural engineer.

The researchers devised a wireless system that can pinpoint the location on the farm where each module of cotton grew. They call it the Wireless Module Tracking System. A farmer can use the information to figure out why fiber quality differed on various acres.

When a farmer knows the input costs across the field, from things such as fertilizer, then the data from the wireless system can help determine the profitability of each portion of the field, Thomasson said. It can also be used to determine the reason that a part of the field had poorer fiber quality, which caused them to lose money. Then they may decide to manage that part of the field differently to make more money next year.

The system uses a global positioning system on the harvester to keep track of where the cotton in every module was harvested. As the cotton is transferred from harvester to boll buggy to module building, an identification number is sent wirelessly. That information is eventually compiled with the bale sample data from the classing office which enables a producer to backtrack to where in the field each bale was grown.

Thomasson said the automated system also uses radio frequency identification – similar to the plastic tags on retail items that cause an alarm if not removed before exiting a store. This device automatically identifies which vehicle is dumping cotton so the busy farmer does not have to stop to input data about the harvester.

The wireless system is not yet commercially available but could be adapted by cotton harvest equipment manufacturers either as a built-in option on new models or as an add-on for existing models, he said.

The researchers agreed that wireless technology could be tapped for these and additional farming activities to help make management decisions and net more money for growers and land a superior product in stores for consumers.