FARM EQUIPMENT REVIEW: July 2006 W
By Top Crop Manager
Over the last year, dozens of new models and designs of farm machinery have
been introduced by manufacturers. Many of you will have seen these introductions
at farm shows and in various industry announcements -but, can you remember
the details? This feature provides a reference for you. Peter Darbishire,
While Top Crop Manager editors make every effort to be objective
when reporting on new products, they cannot be held responsible for claims made
by companies. Readers are encouraged to contact the companies for more details.
SP sprayer swath control
John Deere has introduced Swath Control Pro on 4720 and 4920 self-propelled
sprayers. This new system controls the boom sections and spray nozzles turning
on and off automatically based on a GPS coverage map that is created as the
sprayer goes through the field.
Integrated with the GreenStar 2 system, Swath Control Pro applies chemical
according to a GPS coverage map. Product is only applied where and when it is
intended for extremely efficient chemical application. And with AutoTrac guidance,
the operator sprays more efficiently by eliminating skips and reducing overlap
in the field. This allows the operator to become more productive because of
less stress operating the machine.
Harvest more data
Gleaner combines equipped with the new GTA Console II in-cab terminal are taking
harvest operations and data harvest to a new level. The factory installed Console
II is the 'operations control centre' for the new Fieldstar II yield monitoring
and machine control system. With its ability to display and record output from
almost all combine sensors, the Console II offers unprecedented machine function
and crop harvest monitoring. The SD (secure digital) card slot and GTA100 Communicator
personal computer software make it easy to download data to a personal computer
for in-depth analysis.
The key to the new terminal's capability is the CANbus system that connects
the Console II to every sensor on the combine able to output a signal, including
the new Fieldstar II yield monitor with moisture and temperature sensors. Using
the touch screen, soft keys and rotary dial controls, the operator can quickly
and easily select from a wide variety of screens to view combine functions and
crop yield data. Geo-referenced field and machine data can be assigned to individual
fields or farms as it is collected and stored on SD cards similar to those used
in digital cameras.
The 10.4 inch, colour display screen features automatic contrast control. Its
daylight sensor ensures visibility remains constant day or night, and the display
also adjusts to counter glare. Easy to recognize icons make it simple for the
operator to navigate selections. To activate the icons, touch the screen, press
the soft key, or scroll through options with the rotary dial and then press
it in toward the screen. As new selections appear, touch selection or scrolling
offers new options and settings, such as moisture limits for a given crop, which
then can be selected and adjusted.
Using the Console II, operators can track and log information on area covered,
work rates, fuel consumption and other field and combine data. Selecting a job
for a field or farm when first entered ensures that all data gathered on site
will be assigned to that field or farm for later analysis. Data can be stored
on any size SD card between a minimum 64MB and a maximum 1GB. All 5 series combines
currently equipped with DataTouch terminals are easily upgraded. All plugs and
wiring harness connects remain the same. The older terminal is removed and a
ball mount is installed on the backside of the console for mounting.
Hand-held monitor helps maintain optimum
Westeel has introduced an advancement in grain storage: its new EasyCheck monitoring
system. The most sophisticated and easiest-to-use grain storage monitoring system
on the market today, EasyCheck provides the producer with instantaneous digital
reporting of both current and historic storage temperature levels, says the
company. This allows the producer to finely tune aeration to both achieve and
maintain optimum temperature and moisture levels in the bin, providing the best
chance of avoiding spoilage and shrinkage to deliver the grain to market in
Available for both smooth-walled and corrugated bins, EasyCheck is a two part
system that comprises a hand-held monitor and a cable which is hung from the
roof with sensors every four feet to profile the temperature of the bin. The
hand-held unit features intuitive controls and a large, easy to read display
capable of viewing interconnected groups of cables, as well as the complete
storage history by table or graph.
Another important benefit of EasyCheck is that the producer can now determine
both when and for how long to operate aeration fans. As such, most EasyCheck
users find they are able to significantly reduce fan time and electrical costs.
The EasyCheck system comes with a recharging kit, a carrying case and a PC connection
for downloading of information to a computer.
High definition GPS for agriculture
The Outback BaseLine is a high definition GPS system for agricultural applications.
It has more accuracy than standard GPS and is much more affordable than RTK
GPS, says Hemisphere.
Farmers who have not yet invested in GPS guidance can use one Outback BaseLine
unit to replace several sets of mechanical disc markers, usually for less than
the cost of a single set. Outback BaseLine eliminates the time and effort involved
in folding and unfolding, greasing and other maintenance of disc markers, while
providing better accuracy and performance. It will also function reliably at
night when disc markers are difficult to see.
The very portable and easy-to-use Outback BaseLine features a data transmitter,
internal battery and integrated base station that can be set up in two minutes
and operated at one or more temporary tripod sites at the edge of a farmer's
fields. Several BaseLine Rovers or vehicle-mounted GPS receivers can be serviced
using a single Outback BaseLine unit.
Outback BaseLine's five to 20 centimetre accuracy is available at approximately
half the cost of RTK GPS. The innovative product's high performance is due to
Hemisphere's Crescent GPS technology, including a special receiver module and
Crescent features: Coast software that enables receivers to utilize old DGPS
correction data for several minutes without significantly affecting the accuracy
of positioning – a big advantage during temporary signal blockages or outages;
and lower power consumption which is ideal for mobile and battery operated applications.
Outback BaseLine features simple status lights, a battery monitor, recharging
via an AC charger, and external power options including cigarette lighters and
AC outlets. BaseLine also works well on any continent at any latitude, with
no subscription fees. Its Coast software bridges the temporary gaps when signals
are not available.
Managing water wisely
The Field Scout TDR series has two volumetric water content modes: one for standard
soils and one for higher clay soils. In volumetric water content (VWC) mode,
the meter converts a measured electrical signal into percent soil moisture content
using an equation valid over a wide range of mineral soils. In irrigation mode,
the meter displays a relative water content (RWC) on a scale of zero to 100
corresponding to a user-defined upper and lower soil moisture reference level.
Water deficit, the amount of water needed to bring the soil moisture content
up to the upper reference level, is also calculated and displayed. The reference
levels are easily programmed into the meter with the accompanying software.
Create up to two management sites based on the soil types and crop needs. Use
the raw reading mode – measurement period in microseconds – to do
soil specific calibrations. An internal data logger and RS-232 port allow for
use with a DGPS for geo-referenced soil measurements (TDR 300 model only). Includes
software and PC cable.
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