Lightbars Still On The Job

Topcon Precision Ag Lightbar system

While some may think you can’t improve much on a classic lightbar, manufacturers would disagree. They’ve been listening to users and have done some very helpful tweaking.

“Lightbars are becoming less expensive and smaller,” says Martin Janssen, GPS products manager with Smucker Manufacturing. “They are using brighter, but smaller LEDs. And technology is making them more energy efficient, which will extend the life of the LEDs and the system.”

Make Focusing Easy

Jeff Farrar, North America sales manager for Outback Guidance, agrees, especially with lightbars tied to GPS: “The guts inside are improving — the GPS engines are getting better and more high performance.”

Janssen says the key to an effective lightbar is placement. “You can put together whatever kind of moving map display or any other type of display, but nothing is easier for an applicator to quickly focus on for guidance than a lightbar that’s in his field of vision as he is looking out over the front of his vehicle while driving,” he says. “If you don’t have a lightbar in that line of sight while you drive, then you’re forced to constantly look down or to your side at a display, then find the guidance information, then return to guiding (steering) the vehicle.”

In 2006, Smucker introduced an interior mini lightbar that mounts inside the cab, either to the company’s Landmark II console or to the windshield with a suction cup. “It makes our system more portable so that it can be moved from one vehicle to another more easily. It also allows us to cut the cost of a system by about $750, making it more affordable for more users,” says Farrar. The interior unit complements Smucker’s other product, an exterior-mounted lightbar that attaches to a vehicle’s hood via screws or magnets.

DICKEY-john carries the same exterior unit (from Satloc), dubbed the FieldGuide lightbar. Pat Fuchs, company manager, says it is easy to set up and operate the lightbar. It’s fully adjustable for brightness and features directional arrows, cross track indicator, heading/angle/status indicators, and a simple text display. The controller has a four-line graphical display, five control pushbuttons, and one rotary dial for movement within menu options.

Line-of-sight was also a consideration when Topcon Positioning Systems created its brand new product. The company’s precision agriculture lightbar guidance system features “a unique detachable lightbar that allows you to place the indicator in your field of view while keeping the main console within easy reach,” says Tom Causey, marketing communications specialist. The lightbar incorporates high visibility LED indicators.

Causey adds that the system’s dual frequency receiver is contained in a rugged, ergonomically styled housing with simple controls and a bright full color display screen. It provides a “virtual highway” image on-screen with straight and contour modes as well as coverage mapping.

Raising The Lightbars

Lightbars are not the domain of only newer precision adopters. “Outback has been traditionally geared to the aftermarket retail consumer, but we’re seeing more and more of the commercial/custom applicators getting in on this for their own use for their own operations,” says Farrar. “With the cost of personnel and the equipment, they’re able to pencil out this stuff as the prices come down.”

Indeed, as custom applicators outfit fleets for different types of field work, Farrar stills sees a place for lightbars. “Applications such as dry fertilizer spreading and lime applications don’t require a high level of GPS accuracy and just a basic lightbar may suffice there,” he says. “When you get into nutrient placement, you need a little higher level of GPS, that’s where you see the custom guys getting more into autosteer. To me, because of the hours required to do custom application, utilizing autosteer just increases the amount of day that the workforce can perform because of the fatigue factor.” He says many users will “jump in with both feet,” purchasing the Outback S2 lightbar and eDrive Assisted Steering.

Autosteer is an option for Smucker’s LandMark II. The company has released a new version of firmware that makes adding its autosteer system, Chauffeur, seamless — it’s plug-and-play, says Janssen.

Topcon’s new lightbar system can also upgrade for auto steering, boom leveling, and auto boom section control.

Needs Of The Moment

Lightbars play a role in precision application of nutrients and herbicides, but manufacturers are also positioning them for fungicide spraying to meet the threat of Asian soybean rust in the Midwest for yet a third — and possibly more ominous — season.

Rich Gould, marketing director for Spraying Systems/Mid-Tech, says his company’s CenterLine lightbar “helps eliminate the risk of missed areas and yield loss. This is especially important as we face the possible increase in nighttime spraying to combat the disease.” And the cost rivals that of foam markers. It takes just a few minutes to install, he notes, so it’s easy to move from one vehicle to another as applicators’ needs change with the seasons.

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 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More