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
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
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 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
Latest News
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
EquipmentCase IH Launches New Precision Air 5 Series Carts
June 29, 2015
Case IH recently introduced its new Precision Air 5 series air carts, developed to get the most from every plant’s Read More
InsecticidesVestaron Biopesticide Approved In California
June 29, 2015
Vestaron Corporation, a developer of insect control products derived from naturally occurring peptides, today announced that its VST-006330-EP biopesticide has received Read More
InsecticidesValent’s Zeal SC Miticide Receives EPA Approval
June 29, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced today that Zeal SC Miticide has been registered by EPA with a new liquid formulation that Read More