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 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
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed 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
Latest News
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take…
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
USDA
StewardshipUSDA Outlines Building Blocks For Climate Smart Agricul…
April 23, 2015
Today, the USDA has announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Welcomes New Territory Sales Manager
April 23, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Kaitlyn Acaster to the Canadian sales team. Acaster will fill the Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Opens New Research Greenhouse
April 23, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Acquires Taxon Biosciences
April 23, 2015
DuPont has agreed to acquire Taxon Biosciences, Inc., a leading microbiome discovery company. This acquisition will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities Read More
Farmer on tablet
ManagementStudy: Consumers Don’t Care If U.S. Farmers Feed …
April 23, 2015
“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for Read More
Industry NewsCorporate Responsibility Magazine Names Monsanto One Of…
April 22, 2015
Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CR Magazine) named Monsanto Co. to its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2015. This is the Read More
FertilizerSpring Nitrogen Management: Form And Timing
April 22, 2015
Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Industry NewsFMC Corp. Completes Acquisition Of Cheminova
April 22, 2015
FMC Corp. has completed the closing of its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark Read More
SoftwareSyngenta Expands AgriEdge Excelsior Nationwide For 2015
April 22, 2015
Growers across the country can now take the guesswork out of improving their farm’s production, land value, farm stewardship and Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesU.S. Regulators May Start Testing Food For Glyphosate R…
April 21, 2015
U.S. regulators may start testing food products for residues of the world’s most widely used herbicide, EPA told Reuters’ Carey Read More
FungicidesBRANDT Adds Zonix Biofungicide To Portfolio
April 21, 2015
BRANDT has added Zonix biofungicide to its rapidly expanding line of organic and sustainable products. Zonix is a contact fungicide that Read More
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More