Visual Guidance Remains Important

Although we may be living in what many observers are calling “The Machine Age,” there are still a healthy number of people who like to be in control of the vehicles they are operating. And according to Mike Olson, North American sales manager for Ag Leader Technology, this is especially true in agriculture.

Visual guidance is still fairly popular with many ag operators,” says Olson. “Even with automated systems out there, there are still a large number of ag people who like to be in charge, so to speak, the whole time they are working in the field.”

Harlan Little, business manager for Leica Geosystems, agrees with Olson, adding that visual guidance systems can serve as a bridge for agricultural users. “For many ag operators, visual guidance systems continue to be stepping stones to more advanced systems such as automatic steering,” says Little. “And they are popular. Based upon the data I’ve seen, some form of visual guidance system relying on GPS is used by 60% to 70% of the people who make their living in agriculture.”

Looking For Simplicity

To explain this level of market penetration for visual guidance systems, Little cites two main reasons: Simplicity and accuracy. “Luckily, the inaccuracies that used to be present in these kinds of systems 20 years ago don’t exist anymore,” he says. “Many of today’s best visual guidance systems are just plug and drive units — they don’t require the operator to be a rocket scientist to be figured out.”

As an example of this kind of system, Little points to Leica’s mojo3D, which has recently been upgraded with an option called Ultimate Curve guidance. “Using Ultimate Curve guidance, a mojo3D unit follows the coverage of where the vehicle has been in that particular field,” he says. “Then when the operator engages the replay mode, Ultimate Curve will follow that exact same path in the field.”

Trimble Navigation Limited is another company that has catered to its users’ “quest for simplicity and accuracy,” says Brad Rouse, Southern regional distribution manager, Trimble Agricultural Division. Last spring, the company introduced its RTX technology to the marketplace. Operated by GNSS correction technology, RTX can refine unit repeatable accuracy from 6 to 8 inches down to 2 inches without the use of a traditional RTK infrastructure.

Ag Leader’s Olson says his company’s customers also are increasingly looking for visual guidance systems with an ease-of-use factor. “That’s the No. 1 request we get from our customers for these kinds of systems — ease of use,” he says. “Many users still want to just set the A Point, set the B Point and just go without anything else required on their part.”

For these users, Ag Leader offers both the Integra and Versa units. According to Olson, applicators can monitor, map, record and control field activities using the Integra display, which features a 12.1-inch touchscreen. Meanwhile, for smaller operations, the Versa display provides the same basic level of visual guidance, but with an 8.4-inch touchscreen.

More Input

In an apparent contradiction to the move to simplicity, some visual guidance makers say their users are looking for more information/abilities from their systems. “We’ve definitely seen a move towards systems that can do more for their operators,” says Tim Stuenkel, global marketing communications manager for TeeJet Technologies.

For this crowd, TeeJet offers its Matrix Pro GS Guidance System, equipped with the company’s RealView guidance over video. Up to eight RealView cameras can be used to monitor multiple machine operations while at the same time viewing guidance information. Matrix Pro GS also supports droplet size monitoring capability. According to Stuenkel, this feature provides real-time display of the droplet size being produced at the sprayer boom, allowing the operator to optimize spraying application.

Even with all these added features, many products in the high-tech world have crammed this type of functionality into smaller units. For example, consider how large a laptop computer or mobile telephone used to be 20 years ago vs. today. In the agricultural machine cab, the move towards smaller, more powerful units has also taken hold.

But there are times, says Paul Welbig, director of marketing, business development and Slingshot operations for Raven Industries, when smaller isn’t necessarily wanted. “We’ve had many customers looking for something a bit larger for inside their machine cabs as, shall we say, their eyes have aged over the years,” says Welbig.

For this user, Raven introduced its Envizio Pro XL during the fall. Designed for operators looking for a more viewable screen, the Envizio Pro XL features an extra-large 10.4-inch color touchscreen display while operating with the same features that have made the Envizio Pro and Envizio Pro II popular with visual guidance system users. “We’ve even made the buttons bigger on the Envizio Pro XL to appeal to these customers,” adds Welbig.

Finally, there is a trend towards more connectivity among all agricultural systems, says Darren Pritchard, director of sales, North America & Australia for AgJunction. It’s for this customer that the company has recently launched its Outback MAX system. Capable of working with the company’s xDrive with eTurns, Outback MAX features full section and variable-rate control. The unit can also offer visual guidance with video support through up to four monitoring cameras and an optional switch box and lightbar that attach to the console.

Outback MAX also features wireless communication. “Users can surf the Internet as an added perk of using the system,” says Pritchard. “Better still, Outback MAX allows for remote diagnostics to be conducted on the unit when it’s in the field. This way, our technicians can repair or fix any problem as it comes up without the operator experiencing any downtime whatsoever.”

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Visual Guidance Remains Important

  1. Hi Eric, How many companies manufacture this type of sensory equipment? How does this product compare to other manufacturers.

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
FMC 3Rive 3D
Seed/BiotechFMC’s 3RIVE 3D Turns Heads
April 1, 2015
As winter trade shows tend to go, Commodity Classic tends to be a pretty big deal. You’ve got all the Read More
Nachurs Alpine Solutions, Liquid fertilizer, micronutrients, facility
MicronutrientsYara Launching YaraVita Procote Liquid Micronutrients
March 31, 2015
Yara North America, Inc. broadens its fertilizer coating offerings with the introduction of YaraVita Procote, oil-based micronutrient liquid suspensions that Read More
Industry NewsINCOTEC Board Member To Retire
March 31, 2015
JanWillem Breukink has decided to retire from his position on INCOTEC’s Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. This was Read More
MicronutrientsAgrium Deals Michigan Micronutrient Facility To Cameron…
March 31, 2015
Cameron Chemicals, Inc. has announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Agrium Inc. to purchase the Read More
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