Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/27/2010
Publication Date: 1/21/2011
Citation: Sjolander, A.J., Thomasson, J.A., Sui, R., Ge, Y. 2011. Wireless tracking of cotton modules. Part II: automatic machine identification and system testing. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 75:34-43. Interpretive Summary: An initial step in using precision-agriculture practices to improve profitability is to create a yield map of a field. This capability has been realized in cotton with the invention and commercialization of harvester-based yield-monitors. If fiber quality information is also available, profit maps can be generated and enable cotton producer to determine which parts of the field require higher or lower levels of inputs from an economic standpoint. With the recent development of a wireless module tracking system (WMTS), cotton producers now have the fundamental capability to accurately determine from where specific modules of cotton originate. However, developing the system’s capability to function with multiple machines of the same type in a given field was still necessary for complete automation and commercial applicability of the WMTS. Real-world cotton harvesting operations often involve multiple harvesters, boll buggies, and/or module builders in the same field, and thus many different machine-to-machine dump situations are possible and many opportunities for module tracking errors. The objectives of this research were (1) to make the WMTS capable of automated wireless message triggering, and (2) to make the system compatible with multiple instances of similar machinery in a given field. Objective 2 was discussed within this article as well as testing the overall automated system. A radio-frequency identification (RFID) system was successfully incorporated into the WMTS for cotton harvesting to achieve the second objective of this research: enabling the WMTS to distinguish among various harvesting machines, a requirement for applying the WMTS in large scale operations such as farms using multiple harvesters, boll buggies, and/or module builders. Testing of the RFID system verified that incorporating it into the WMTS worked according to design. The WMTS successfully distinguished among harvest machines and sent wireless messages to the correct machines. Overall testing of the automated WMTS, including the sensor-based automation system and the RFID system, proved that the automated WMTS worked largely as designed and testing was successful.
Technical Abstract: Mapping the harvest location of cotton modules is essential to practical understanding and utilization of spatial-variability information in fiber quality. A wireless module-tracking system was recently developed, but automation of the system is required before it will find practical use on the farm. In Part 1 of this report, research to develop automatic initiation of wireless messages was described. In Part 2, research to enable the system to function with multiple harvesting machines of the same type in the same field – a common situation in commercial cotton farming – is described along with testing of the entire automated wireless module-tracking system. An RFID system was successfully incorporated to enable functionality with multiple similar harvest machines. Overall system testing showed that the automated system is now capable of operating practically in a commercial cotton farming environment without user intervention.