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Automatic equipment control

Agriculture.com Staff 07/16/2009 @ 7:33am

After a very wet spring in 2008, it wasn't unusual for Donnie Merkey to work late into the night to get his 1,000 acres of corn planted.

But working at night poses its own set of challenges. For Merkey, who farms in Adel, Iowa, being able to appropriately judge when to pick up his planter at the end of a row in the dusty darkness was nearly impossible.

"When it's dark and the wind kicks up the dirt, it's hard to tell when to pick up the planter," says Merkey. "I needed to find a tool that would eliminate that problem so I could make the most of time I had in the field before the next rain."

Merkey sought the advice of Chris Knudsen, Ag Management Solutions consultant for Horizon Equipment, who told him about iTEC Pro.

Still in its infancy, this industry-exclusive Pro module works to extend the functionality of the GreenStar system and to implement management tools on a tractor. When paired with AutoTrac, iTEC Pro assumes control at the headland, allowing the operator to remain hands-free as it automatically decreases ground speed, lifts the implement, steers the tractor into the next row, and re-engages the implement.

As Merkey enters his second season with the system, he says it has not only eliminated the problem of when to lift the implement but also helped him be a better operator.

"It's very tedious to drive with a scribe marker. If I'm driving with a scribe marker, I'm focused on that scribe marker and don't have time to look around at my planter," says Merkey. "iTEC Pro is a technology that's helped me be more aware of other areas I may have neglected in the past."

"I think iTEC Pro is going to be an up-and-coming thing. Once your neighbors hear about what you're doing and see how your fields look, they become interested," says Knudsen.

After a very wet spring in 2008, it wasn't unusual for Donnie Merkey to work late into the night to get his 1,000 acres of corn planted.

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