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

Forbes Mixing Bowl NYC
Precision AgGrowing Demand For High Tech Agriculture Sparking Discussion
March 3, 2017
How can information technology be best harnessed to solve challenges in food and agriculture? That’s a question being asked more Read More
EquipmentWhat Does FBN’s Latest Attempt At Disintermediation Really Mean For Ag Retailers?
February 6, 2017
When Farmer’s Business Network (FBN), the Silicon Valley-based ag data startup that promises to leverage all kinds of on-farm data Read More
Farmobile Dashboard Heat Map
Precision AgFarmobile’s EFR Dashboard Brings Real-Time Metrics To The Coffee Table
January 1, 2017
Farmobile is one of many data start-ups that we’ve been closely observing with a sense of keen curiosity since they Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More