LONDON, Ohio – Global positioning systems, satellites and in-tractor monitors aren’t out of reach of Ohio farmers, according to one manufacturing representative who demonstrated the technology during last week’s Farm Science Review.
Ben Schilling, manager of sales operations for Colorado-based Beeline Technologies, said GPS applications can help farmers in Ohio, not just those out West with thousands of acres.
Schilling admitted the technology was cost-prohibitive for farmers with fewer than 1,200 acres, but pointed out another group of producers who can really cash in: vegetable producers.
“We’ve really found it appeals to the veggie farmer with 200-300 acres. That might be a lot of the bigger farms of that type in Ohio,” he said.
Benefits. The technology can increase overall farm efficiency, Schilling said.
The system operates with an on-tractor receiver that pulls together data transmitted by satellite. Those geometric calculations give a tractor’s location on earth and create logarithms to guide the tractor across the field, he said.
In tandem, the guide and tractor can reduce overlap in seeding or fertilizer application, extend repeatability, and burn less fuel per acre, Schilling said.
“One grower I heard of saved 50,000 gallons of fuel last year and reduced his fleet one tractor,” by using the technology, Schilling said.
The system also helps reduce compaction on a field.
“You can put fertilizer right where you need it, only use the amount you need, drive over your field less and save more fuel,” he said.
Steering. The auto-steer technology Beeline touts gives greater steering accuracy for AGCO, Challenger, Fendt, Gleaner and Massey-Ferguson machinery, among others.
A farmer can engage the tool and only has to worry about turning the tractor at row’s end, Schilling said. That reduces driver fatigue.
Other functions of the GPS system include satellite tracking to guide the tractor in straight rows; center pivot, where a tractor drives in circles that gradually become smaller; or non-linear, or freewheeling, which would allow a tractor to automatically follow a treeline or other boundary.
Schilling said the non-linear feature will be released this fall.
Another feature is applied mapping, which uses color coding on the in-tractor monitor to show where you’ve been, Schilling said.
A first. Schilling said Beeline was the first company to commercially auto-steer a tractor way back in 1995. Several other companies market similar GPS equipment.
The system costs between $15,000-$40,000 per tractor, he said.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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