Controllers’ Power On The Rise
The increasing capabilities of the coming season’s rate controllers couldn’t come at a better time. Indeed, continuing high costs for fertilizer, seed, fuel and labor are forcing applicators to utilize technology to minimize waste, says Colin Pollack, sales specialist — custom application, with Ag Leader Technology. In addition, with concerns over problems such as run-off and algae blooms, legislation is either already in place, or soon will be, requiring all fertilizer applications be recorded, to ensure farmers are using responsible practices.
“The result is a need for a more function-rich rate controller that utilizes GPS position data to geo-reference what was applied, where it was applied, when, and how much was applied,” he says.
Then, too, ever-larger and more sophisticated implements need controllers up for the job. Rate controllers can now be used to handle an increasing number of materials or sections of an implement simultaneously, points out Pat Fuchs, product manager-Farmstead and public works, DICKEY-john.
And perhaps one of the biggest reasons for advancing rate controller use is the development of components from different manufacturers that really do communicate with each other. “ISOBUS integration is something that’s been talked about for a long time, but over the last year and a half, two years, it’s really gained some traction,” says Ryan Molitor, marketing and business development operations manager, Raven Industries.
As controller tasks have multiplied, so have the recent product choices on the market.
In August, Raven announced the introduction of its Hawkeye nozzle control system, and the company started shipping this month. The system utilizes pressure-based nozzle control, in contrast to previous flow-based technologies. Molitor says the approach reduces spray drift and produces accurate droplet sizes even as drivers speed up or slow down through a field. And it allows users to maintain a consistent pressure across the entire width of the boom.
“For the guys who are operating a self-propelled machine, with booms reaching 100, 120 and 132 feet long, the Hawkeye enables them to deliver a consistent spray pattern across the entire boom at a wide range of speeds,” Molitor says. The system also provides turn compensation, again, allowing a consistent pattern across the boom.
Molitor says Raven leads with the fact that that Hawkeye is an ISO-compatible controller. Many customers already have an ISO-compatible display terminal in the cab — and they’re not always interested in switching that out — maybe want to add control of some other vital functions of the machine. That’s why it’s important to them to have that capability, he says.
Raven will be offering machine-specific kits for users to purchase to outfit their favored-brand application rig. Initial kits started shipping in November, with additional options coming through December and January for the most popular machines on the market, says Molitor.
Ag Leader offers the DirectCommand application rate control solution with approximately 80 machine specific kits to afford the user with functionality across a huge selection of application equipment, Pollock says. “When used in conjunction with Ag Leader’s Integra or Versa displays, these easy to install and use DirectCommand kits offer complete control over liquid and granular application of products,” he says. In November, Ag Leader began offering new software enhancements for users. Customers can expect to see more improvements in granular application using spinner/spreaders.
In another show of brand flexibility, TeeJet Technologies’ new DynaJet Flex 7120 sprayer control is designed to piggyback on to existing rate control systems. The system utilizes PWM (pulse width modulation) technology to control flow rate independently of operating pressure. It allows operators to select target droplet size on the go, from the cab, and maintain that droplet size across a wider range of ground speeds and/or application rates.
The DynaJet system can be paired with TeeJet’s new Aeros 9040 Field Computer — a full featured field computer (ISOBUS UT compatible) that provides GPS guidance and rate control in one package, says Tim Stuenkel, global marketing communications manager.
Topcon’s new CAN-based/ISO-compatible Apollo CM-40 has the ability to control four independent control loops with 10 outputs. When paired with the Apollo EM 24 as the Expansion module, it can accept 40 input lines and 24 output lines to enable control of more sophisticated implements as they continue to become both larger and multi-function, explains Michael Gomes, vice president of business development.
Apollo ECUs also offer the flexibility for customers to upgrade and utilize them with Topcon’s X25 or X30 displays to import prescription maps and generate real-time as-applied maps and more advanced functionality. Operators have the ability to simultaneously control and record data for up to eight products with the X30 console.
The Trimble Field-IQ crop input control system enables productive and efficient functionality for planting, nutrient and pest management operations. “Users save on input costs by monitoring and simultaneously varying up to six different materials to precisely plant seeds, apply chemicals and broadcast fertilizers,” says T.J. Schulte, smart machines market manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division. Users can adjust seed population, fertilizer rates or spray application manually or use a prescription from FarmWorks Mapping software.