Enhance the Performance of Older Vehicles With Precision Ag

March 25, 2019

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.