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01/01/2008 02:00:00 AM

Telemetry units cost about $750 per pivot, while subscription service ranges from $125 per pivot for seasonal coverage up to $400 per pivot for a full year of premier service, Andrews says.

"It's an up-front investment," Emmerson says. "But as the technology has matured, it's become more affordable even to smaller growers."

Achieving an uninterrupted signal at the necessary strength can be an issue, he says. The farming company needed repeaters to maintain line-of-sight transmission to base stations 12 miles away.

But both men say devising the optimum repeater setup has been the primary technical hitch. The system requires only basic computer know-how and equipment to run.

"It's very user-friendly," Emmerson says.

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