Australian innovation: new GPS steering system saves time and $$$
GroundCover™ Issue: 42 | 01 Nov 2002
DRYLAND BROADACRE graingrowers gained another incentive to adopt fuel-saving controlled-traffic farming techniques in August when Toowoomba-based Beeline Technologies (BT) released a new global positioning system (GPS) steering assist system developed by a NSW farming family.
Based on the Challenger Auto-Guide product recently co-developed with Caterpillar and AGCO, the Beeline Arro provides farmers with a simple entry to advauced steering assist for most commonly used types of self-propelled farm equipment.
The combination of GPS and inertia guidance system technologies enables producers to eliminate both over- and underlapping when cultivating, spraying, sowing aud harvesting.
Farmers are realising the cost of overlap in their enterprises. The Tomlinson family runs 'Eulandool', a 7,000 ha cropping enterprise at Condobolin in western NSW. Sons Finn and Ben said they investigated steer assist technology after calculating overlap was costing them $13.80/ha.
Two seasons ago they fitted a pair of John Deere 9400 tractors with pre-production Beeline Arro systems at a cost of $40,000 each, plus $15,000 for a universal base station, and they are very satisfied with the accuracy improvement.
Five years on from Beeline's first steering assist product, marketing manager John Hill says, "We've made the Arro so easy to use that within a couple of minutes you'd be able to competently handle the system. It also has the ability to work with. the ISO CANbus system, which is becoming available in most new tractors."
Beeline Technologies will now supply auto steer systems for Agco Corp product lines including AGCO, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Gleaner. This expansion follows the successful introduction of the Beeline-designed and manufactured fully integrated Challenger Auto-Guide system into CAT Challenger MTIOO and MT800 models last year.
Farmer innovation behind it
The BT story begau on a Boggabilla NSW farm in 1993 when grower Mike Mailler challenged his electrical engineer son, Robert, to design and build a steering system that would drive his self-propelled sprayer in a straight line. In 1997 Mike first used a controlled steering system and, based on its success, he moved to controlled-traffic farming.
He attributes a 40 per cent increase in production to the new system.
Today hands-off steering to an accuracy of about 200 mm using GPS satellite triangulation aud other systems is becoming the industry standard.
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