Author Archives: Trimble Agriculture

  1. Automated End-of-Row Turns a Must for Large Potato Contractor

    Ben Clappison farms over 1,619 acres of potatoes on a contract basis. With the cost of planting, growing and harvesting speed potatoes averaging about £4,942/a, it is crucial for his beds to be planted as accurately as possible.  If beds are too wide, he’s wasting soil and if they’re too narrow he won’t maximise his yield potential.

    Achieve Precision-Level Accuracy by Upgrading an Older Machine

    potato farmer - gfx740

    In 2018, Mr Clappinson decided to invest in a tractor for cultivating and potato bed forming. After evaluating both new and older tractor options and finding the cost of a new, guidance-equipped tractor to be prohibitively expensive, he decided to purchase a 2010 Case 485 STX Quadtrac that he could then outfit with new guidance technology.

    nextswath - potato land forming

    Much of the bed forming work that Mr Clappinson does requires the ability to cultivate down to 60cm deep. At this depth, the implement width is relatively narrow and as a result, many turns are made in the field. With these challenges in mind, he tried NextSwath to give him the control and ability to make very tight turns that could never be made effectively if done manually. After a successful trial, he was happy with the results and ultimately chose the GFX-750 display system to achieve the level of accuracy he needed in his operation.

    How Trimble® NextSwath™ Works

    Newtswath headland
    Disclaimer: Screenshot from Beta version of product taken during an in-field test and not currently available in market.


    When approaching the end of a crop row, the NextSwath technology automatically calculates and executes the best possible path to turn the vehicle and approach the next crop row or swath. Users working with a towed implement can also enable the option to optimise the turn for the implement position. By automating the turning process, the NextSwath solution can:

    • Dramatically improve the operator’s performance
    • Eliminate towed implement undershooting or overshooting
    • Minimise skips and overlaps when lining up for the next row.

    This improved turning efficiency and repeatability can increase yield and prevent crop damage while also saving time and fuel costs.

    Reliable Accuracy at All-Hours

    In early Spring, Mr Clappinson regularly works into the early hours, and can expect to rack up 110-120 hours per week.  NextSwath offers the ability for him to keep working when he needs to with confidence that he can work tight to the hedge and field boundaries.

    “It’s so consistent with the turns. It’s beyond belief, the best GPS system I’ve used and it’s just so easy to use”, he explains.

    Prior to using the GFX-750 display system with CenterPoint RTX, Mr Clappinson relied on RTK, working on a mix of fixed and mobile bases.

    “I’m so impressed with RTX, it’s just as good as RTK and not having to set up mobile-bases and change between fixed base stations saves time. The GFX converges on the way to the field in less than two minutes. If I leave the field overnight the line is exactly where I left it the day after.” says Mr Clappison.

    Learn More About the GFX-750 display system

    Whether you’re thinking about upgrading an older tractor or taking your operation to the next level, learn more about GFX-750 display system.

  2. Enhance the Performance of Older Vehicles With Precision Ag

    There comes a time in every machine’s life when, as reliable as it may be, it is not meeting all of the farm’s needs. At this time, every farmer is faced with a decision. Should they retire their old tractor for a new one or enhance their existing machine’s performance by upgrading it with precision ag technology?

    Through deciding on the right precision agriculture solution can feel overwhelming at first, most farmers find that they achieve a better return by investing in new technology than they would have by investing in a new machine.

    Potato beds with precision ag

    5 Reasons Upgrading an Old Machine Pays Off

    Every farmer has unique priorities for their farm but there are five common reasons that cause many to consider upgrading their machines with precision ag.

    1 – Minimise waste

    By utilising GPS technology and automated steering, farmers are able to reduce overlap in their fields by improving inter-row accuracy.

    2 – Improve efficiency

    Removing the need for manual intervention speeds up operations, allowing more work in less time.

    3 – Increase productivity

    When operators can rely on automated steering, they can multitask in the cab – checking on towed implements, for example – and are less likely to experience fatigue.

    4 – Achieve desired visual impact

    Straight rows are always visually appealing and guidance technology ensures this is achieved.

    5 – Empower less-skilled operators

    Whether it’s a younger member of the family or a less experienced employee, operators can easily be empowered by guidance technology to successfully perform the most precise of tasks.

    Precision Potato Bed Forming Spans Generations
    Grandfather passes on potato bed-forming operations to grandson

    Digbys, Grandson and Grandfather Precision Ag
    Grandson, Sam 21 with Grandfather, Digby 75
    For 39 years, Digby Russell has been bed forming his 101ha of seed potatoes on the family’s 405ha farm in the Midlands. Forming potato beds is a tough job, requiring a high level of accuracy, something Mr Russell has been able to achieve with years of driving experience and acquired skill. However, increased seed and, land rent prices – as well as more spray passes – addedfinancial pressure and meant there was no longer any margin for human error.

    The Russells grow both maincrop and seed potatoes – which are worth almost three times the value of maincrop produce.  However, due to changes in the economy both have halved in value this year.

    Between the higher growing costs and the drop in market value, any error would be detrimental to profits. Beds that are too narrow result in potatoes growing out of the beds, where they will turn green and be unsaleable. And beds that are too wide wastes valuable land. This meant the family could no longer afford to take a chance on any inaccuracies from manual driving.

    That is Mr Russell handed over the mantle to his grandson, Sam. After installing EZ-Pilot Pro with the GFX-750 display system, Sam was able to step into his grandfather’s shoes with the help of automated steering. Their 2012-built tractor was upgraded with the newest aftermarket guidance technology which even allows Sam to drive in reverse when needed.

    “EZ-Pilot Pro is ideal for us as I’m able to reverse into corners, which is critical for getting straight potato beds for our high-value seed crop,” – Sam Russell

    Using a combination of the GFX-750 display system with NAV-900 guidance controller and CenterPoint RTX Fast corrections, Sam can trust that his rows will always be accurate and Mr Russell can trust that his family farm is in competent hands.

    “RTX Fast works really well. We roll out to 50 miles from the farm so a single base station was not an option. I’ve used a CFX-750 in the past but the GFX-750 is in a different league. At times, I can see up to 27 satellites at once.” – Sam Russell

    There are many reasons to consider upgrading your old machine with precision technology instead of replacing it with a new machine. Though a shiny new tractor is an attractive sight to imagine in your field, ultimately the accuracy of the job is the most important aspect for your farm. Guidance technology not only extends the life of a trusted machine by improving its output but it can also enable you to empower a younger family member or newer operator to perform high-accuracy tasks. That does more than solve a problem—it prepares your farm for the future.