Drive Toward Precision

Operators are demanding more — especially more precision — from their automated steering systems, and manufacturers continue to deliver advancements.

“In addition to saving time, input expenses, and operator fatigue, accurate and reliable automated steering allows several exciting developments that are happening right now in precision agriculture,” says Wayne Wenzel, public relations manager for Trimble‘s Agriculture Division. These include a variety of control functions, ranging from implement steering to field mapping, row shut-off, and variable-rate control of crop inputs.

Wenzel says Trimble offers the choice of its highly accurate AgGPS Autopilot system that hooks into the hydraulic steering system or an easy-to-install EZ-Steer system that steers via a bolt-on controller on the steering column.

Changes In Attitude

John Bressler, AutoFarm‘s senior marketing manager, also sees real change in operator attitudes. “GPS is no longer a ‘nice to have’ feature, it’s becoming a ‘must have,'” he says. “Demands are for more features and more integrated systems — systems that can do more from a single display and can be used throughout the entire season.”

Just launched this past winter, AutoFarm’s ParaDyme system can be combined with Ag Leader and Raven products (branded as AutoFarm per agreements with the manufacturers) — along with its proprietary wheel-mounted OnTrac2 GPS Assisted Steering — to provide a seamless, fully integrated steering and precision ag system. Features include remote real-time service and GPS steering ranging from WAAS (wide area augmentation system) to RTK (real-time kinematic) and in the near future, GLONASS (Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System). The company reports that the ParaDyme system now supports more than 400 different ag vehicles across manufacturers’ “color” line.

Choosing a system goes beyond brand. Depending on features, convenience, and price points, either assisted steering systems or hydraulic automated steering systems could be an operation’s best fit.

A third option also is available: electric steering. Topcon offers its AES-25 Electric Steering System, which provides the convenience of electric steering with the performance of hydraulic systems, says Kevin Cobb, director of product management. It is fully compatible with System 150 and System 250. Topcon offers systems starting with simple lightbar guidance, stepping up to autosteering, then higher accuracy autosteering and complete application control.

Earlier this spring, Leica Geo­sys­tems launched two new products to address different market segments — the mojoMINI offering lightbar guidance and the mojo3D with lightbar guidance and coverage mapping. The mojo3D can be configured as a manual steer lightbar or an autosteer solution. Along with its mojoRTK and mojoGLIDE autosteer systems, all of Leica’s products are designed to be scalable, reports Harlan Little, the company’s NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) business manager.

Grower Guidance Gains

“We have seen producers become familiar and comfortable with automatic guidance on their tractor, but they now realize where they ultimately need the accuracy is on the implement,” says Laura Robson, senior marketing representative, John Deere. In response, the company is launching iSteer for active implement guidance and iGuide for passive implement guidance. It also continues to offer its iTEC Pro, which automates tractor end-of-row functions as well automatically turns the tractor around on the end row.

Hemisphere GPS recently launched new tractor installation kits and reverse steering for its Outback eDriveX autosteering system. When combined with Outback S3 and either Outback BaseLineX or Outback A220/A221 for reliable, centimeter-level GPS accuracy, eDriveX offers a complete automated steering solution for high precision applications on a number of manufacturer’s vehicles, says Jeff Farrar, director of marketing, agriculture.

Many systems are designed for portability across the fleet, an important feature for both retailers and their grower-customers.

Switch kits allow easy transfer of AutoFarm’s systems across brands, says Joe Robertson, manager of communications. The Lock ‘n Roll mechanism of its OnTrac2 Assisted Steering clamps onto a vehicle’s steering wheel, and can be easily moved onto other machines. The ParaDyme roof module slides right off the roof rack, the controller is disconnected, and the pair are ready to transfer.

Jeff Bentley, Ag Leader’s GPS, guidance, and steering sales manager, adds that the ParaDyme system paired with Ag Leader’s Integra or Edge display can be moved in minutes, especially for vehicles with a steering kit already installed.

The fixed roof antennas required by Leica’s mojoRTK and mojoGLIDE can be moved, although it takes a little time, says Leica’s Little. The company offers an optional switch kit that contains all the necessary components for seamless transferability, along with the original portable RTK base station. The mojoMINI can be easily moved between field and on-road vehicles.

Portable Parts

Raven Industries’ SmarTrax has portable parts, while SmartSteer has a mechanical drive option that attaches to the steering wheel and is moved simply between machines. “The nice thing about SmartSteer is the fact that you don’t have to remove the steering wheel to install or move it,” says Ryan Molitor, marketing manager, Applied Technology Division. The company’s new Slingshot allows operators to access RTK and other high accuracy correction signals, whether using Raven or non-Raven hardware.

While the hydraulic valve of TeeJet‘s FieldPilot is not portable, a second hydraulic and cable kit can be purchased and installed in another machine. “This allows the operator to simply move the console and steering control module — the two expensive parts of the system — from one machine to another for quick portability,” says Rich Gould, vice president and guidance business manager.

All of Topcon’s systems are portable and easy to transfer between machines, including the AES-25, Cobb says. It’s more practical to leave wiring harnesses and control units in place, especially on higher end systems, so duplicate harnesses are typically installed on other machines where the controllers will be moved.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Creates, Fills New Pacific Northwest Sales P…
March 30, 2015
H.J. Baker announced today that Gary Bingham has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division to further deepen its sales portfolio Read More
Algal blooms
StewardshipStudy: Algae From Clogged Waterways Could Be Used As Bi…
March 30, 2015
Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists are reporting Read More
Young corn plants
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit Coming To DC
March 30, 2015
The annual 4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit will be held on May 12 in Washington DC. The summit will include a full Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More