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Guidance gets going

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:22pm

Guidance systems have swept into agriculture so fast they've left many farmers spinning in search of straight answers. At the farm shows, field days, and Internet discussion sites where they gather, farmers are clamoring for information about the onslaught of lightbars and autosteer systems that guidance technology has spawned.

The Precision Agriculture page on Successful Farming magazine's Agriculture Online(tm) Web site reflects this activity. In a one-month period this winter, nearly 300 farmers posted messages asking questions, giving advice, or relating experiences with guidance systems. Orville, Ohio, farmer Scott Myers was one of them.

"What's the best lightbar guidance system for contour spraying and fertilizer spreading on irregular fields -- we don't have square ones?" he asked.

In reply to a Minnesota farmer's question about which autosteer system to buy, Atwood, Kansas, farmer Dietrich Kastens shared his opinion. "I wouldn't be in a hurry to buy. Auto-steering is going to explode this year, so find a good field day and demo several different systems," he advised.

Fielding questions about the price and performance of guidance equipment is an everyday chore for Ohio State University program specialist Matt Sullivan. "There's a tremendous amount of interest, but the level of confusion is also high," he says.

Guidance systems have swept into agriculture so fast they've left many farmers spinning in search of straight answers. At the farm shows, field days, and Internet discussion sites where they gather, farmers are clamoring for information about the onslaught of lightbars and autosteer systems that guidance technology has spawned.

Sullivan breaks guidance systems into three groups; true autosteer systems, low-cost guidance steering aids, and the newest midlevel GPS-assisted steering systems.

Sullivan explains that the amount of GPS error varies with the source of the differential correction signal provided to the steering system.

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