Unexpected benefits from GPS Guidance

As published in Grower August 2011

James Powrie and Dan Bloomer – LandWISE Inc.

“My time in the cab is worth more since I fitted a self steering system”, says Randal Hanrahan. He runs a mixed arable, vegetable and beef operation and a contracting business in Ashburton. His time is precious, especially during planting and harvest. “I can do admin and calls during the day, while the tractor keeps driving itself straight. It is like giving myself a pay rise while I am on the tractor. Self steering also means I can keep a close eye on what is happening behind the machine – and that is where the money is made and lost”.

“A backpacker drove straighter with GPS than an old hand without it”, says Bruce Graham from Gisborne. Bruce spent twenty minutes teaching a Danish visitor to drive the tractor with GPS and left them to it. Predictably, the results were bullet straight. GPS means no overlap, less wasted seed, fuel, time and wear and tear in Bruce’s squash and maize. “We originally bought a lightbar but that meant I was still watching out the front of the tractor and could not pay full attention to the implement. Getting RTK with autosteer gave us the biggest gains in precision, work, quality and speed”.

Brothers Andrew and Peter Gilchrist are using RTK GPS in their contract spraying and seeding operation in Canterbury. “Being able to get through jobs efficiently is a big benefit of GPS, especially when a busy season means everybody wants the gear at once. It is better for us and it means better service for the client. Our drivers are less tired at the end of the day, and the next day too”, says Andrew. “Also the second time we are in a paddock, the self steering puts us on exactly the same tramlines. This means better access sooner after rain and less damaged crop”.

You have probably heard that GPS in your tractor or sprayer will make things go much better in the paddock. The unexpected benefits include getting more jobs done while in the cab, getting through work quicker, and less fatigue and a better mood at the end of the day. This means GPS in your tractor can make things better at home too. More than one farmer’s partner has said, “He’s not such a grumpy so ‘n’ so when he gets in a night!” Farmers and contractors who aim to enjoy life more, and operate more profitably and sustainably, can meet others at LandWISE events and conferences. Visit www.landwise.org.nz

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