Carrot Farm Sees 20% Increase in Efficiency with RTK Guidance
May 28, 2020
Covering larger areas in less time and building more accurate carrot beds using the TMX-2050 display has meant that Leo Dunn Organics near Durrow, County Laois has reduced crop loss and improved efficiencies.
Farm manager Tim Davies first tried a different system, but decided to switch after just one season. “Nothing went right with it,” he says.
Quick Installation, Short Learning Curve
Instead, the farm installed a TMX-2050 display and Autopilot with full RTK (real-time kinematic) system accuracy on an 8480 Massey Ferguson tractor, which is used for ridging carrot beds.
The 2008 tractor didn’t have GPS capabilities so needed a new motor drive and steering wheel installed which took two days to complete.
Mr Davies had previous experience with GPS guidance and found the TMX-2050 to be very user- friendly, even for employees who had never used GPS before.
He trained six employees on the system and after walking them through it a couple of times they seem to be doing well.
In-Field Efficiency Increases by 20%
Benefits showed up almost immediately.
“I saw straight away that we were doing more acres an hour because it was a lot more accurate,” says Mr Davies . “To get the exact acreage with GPS is brilliant from a costing point of view.”
Previously, the drivers were doing three-point turns in the headlands before making their next pass. With Autopilot, the tractor follows a circular path, eliminating the need for three-point turns. Now when a tractor enters the field, it’s always moving forward and should never have to stop, resulting in significant time savings.
Mr Davies estimates they are now 20% more efficient in the field than they were before.
“If a driver cultivates by eye, he would probably end up doing two or three trips extra because he’s overlapping,” he explains. “When you put that across hundreds of acres, you’re going to save time.”
Not having to focus on steering also allows the driver to focus on what’s happening behind the tractor. Whether it’s cultivating, sowing, or spreading fertiliser, being able to watch the operation taking place ensures greater accuracy and efficiency.
Mr Davies is also better able to maximise employee time because a driver can look at the display which shows how many acres are completed and how many are left. This allows him to plan the day better and maximise labour and production.
Accurate Maps Reduce Inputs and Crop Loss
Knowing the exact acreage of their fields is another benefit of using the TMX-2050 with Autopilot. When sowing hundreds of thousands of carrot seeds per acre, it’s important to know whether a field is actually 6.5 ha or 6.9 ha, to ensure the right inputs for the field. Mr Davies expects this will provide an even greater return on investment once he begins using the technology on sprayer and fertiliser operations.
The farm’s fields range from 2.2 ha to 22 ha, with the carrot and vegetable fields averaging around 4 ha.
“You have to utilise every square inch of the field right up to the hedge,” he says. If he’s applying sprays from pre-emergence to harvest, the savings from being precise are considerable.
After a year with the one display, the farm decided to add a second TMX-2050 with Autopilot to its 7726 Massey Ferguson tractor, which is used for shaping the vegetable beds.
Having two TMX-2050 displays allows the farm to use Vehicle Sync so the 8480 tractor can wirelessly transfer the AB lines- a predefined path that determines the parallel machine passes within a field- to the 7726. With the 7726 now following the same path as the 8480, it eliminates any discrepancies in the beds — an important factor in carrot production, says Mr Davies.
“We have the drill as wide as possible on the beds to have as much growing space as possible for the carrots ” he explains. “If those beds are not accurate, the drill keeps falling on and off the bed, meaning you’re losing crops.”
Top Support Drives Further Investment
The farm plans to continue investing in more TMX-2050 displays and Autopilot receivers — ideally, Mr Davies would like at least four or five units, with one for fertilising and one for spraying, so he can also use variable-rate control to further increase accuracy and cost savings.
He’s also looking into Trimble Ag Software, which would allow him to view where the tractors are from his laptop, what acreage they’ve covered, and how fast they’re going. He’s also considering adding TrueTracker implement steering. But one of the main reasons Mr Davies wants to continue investing in the GPS systems is because of the positive experience he’s had with Vantage Ireland.
“It’s top class service and support.”
John Grainger, commercial manager at Vantage Ireland, highlights the importance of building trust with customers by providing the service and support far beyond the sale. “Vantage Ireland has a dedicated sales, support and installation team who strive to offer the best possible service to its customers throughout Ireland.”