Anyone who has spent a long day spraying fungicide in July or harvesting corn in October knows how stressful it can be to stare forward out of the cab and focus on the corn row ahead. On top of steering the machine, an operator is required to monitor machine performance, spray rates, manage grain handling or tender trucks, and monitor grain or forage quality all while watching for part failures and maintenance issues. Operating at night, in windy conditions, or while harvesting lodged corn can add even more stress to the operation.
A study using advanced, eye-tracking glasses determined where an operator’s attention is focused while operating a sprayer through tall, standing corn. Without AutoTrac RowSense or Vision, the operator spent about 82.5 percent of the time looking forward. When AutoTrac RowSense or Vision was utilized, the same operators only spent 70 percent of the time looking forward and more time watching sprayer booms and monitoring machine performance on the vehicle display. AutoTrac RowSense focuses on steering so the operator can focus on other value-added tasks.
Getting more work done in less time is the name of the game for progressive producers, ag service providers, and custom spraying operations. One way to do this is to make sure equipment is operating at the optimum operating speed as much as possible.
While operating a self-propelled sprayer, consistent, optimal operating speeds lead to covering more acres per day. This means more revenue for ag service providers and more timely chemical applications within narrow windows for producers. Also, driving at a consistent speed is critical for applying accurate chemical rates across the entire field for more effective applications. With RowSense driving the sprayer through the row, even in varying field conditions, operators of any experience level will be able to the maximize productivity and efficiency of product applications.
All operators know that not all fields are created equal. In some instances, there will be nice even, clean stands while other may have washouts, missing crop and excessive weeds pressure. In these situations, AutoTrac™ Vision system will fall back on the GPS to keep the vehicle in the row. With AutoTrac Vision, the camera is the first priority, when the camera does not have confidence in the row crop due to crop stand or slope in the land, it will fall back on GPS. Once crop is detected and the camera has confidence in performance it will engage AutoTrac Vision.
Operators will now have the ability to choose to operate with both sensors when applying in later-season corn (Vision and RowSense). The system will use Vision first for priority and then fall back to RowSense if Vision confidence is lower than optimal operating range. This is called RowSense fallback. If confidence is low on AutoTrac Vision and RowSense, the system defaults to GPS using the operator’s guidance line.
The sprayer operator will have the opportunity to see a live AutoTrac Vision feed on the GreenStar™ 2630 Display. This will include an overlay with informative graphics to indicate how well AutoTrac is performing and if the wheels are centered in the crop row.
With AutoTrac RowSense system, the row sensors are the first priority when it comes to guiding the machine down the row. As long as the sensors detect the corn plants, these inputs will be provided to the AutoTrac system and the machine will follow the row. In other instances, where the sensors are not detecting crop rows due to missing plants, the system will quickly switch to GPS-only guidance until good, stable rows are detected again.
For example, crop stands following a wet spring may have uneven stands and areas where the corn was drowned out. While spraying, as the machine crosses into the washed out areas the system will detect that crop is missing and will quickly switch to GPS-only mode to guide the sprayer across the troubled area and into the correct row on the other side. When harvesting and crossing a passable waterway, the system will behave similarly guiding the combine or self-propelled forage harvester (SPFH) into the proper row on the other side. In either situation, staying on the correct row maximizes efficiency in the field. GPS fusion ensures the operator follows the correct row even when conditions get tough.
In today’s economy leaving any yield in the field during the growing season is unacceptable. Running over crop in post emerge application will quickly reduce a producer’s overall yield. AutoTrac Vision will give a producer an opportunity to capitalize on potential lost yield. An operator could see reduced crop damage by minimizing the instances when a lapse in attention results in significant crop damage.
The chart below shows plants damaged at a variety of operating speeds and seed population.
Producers work too hard to grow quality crops to afford to leave any of that yield potential in the field. However, while spraying standing corn, yield-limiting damage or losses can occur. When spraying, some operators may choose to cross crop rows to simplify spraying and reduce stress. However, this method of spraying can damage more the 2 percent of the plants in the field. To improve yields, many operators will follow crop rows to reduce this damage. In this instance, keeping the sprayer’s wheels in between the corn rows is important to ensure that plants are not damaged and can reach their full yield potential. Unfortunately, with so much going on in the sprayer cab during long days, a small lapse in attention can result in significant crop damage. For example, an operator spraying at 15 miles per hour who is misaligned with the row for 1 second could damage more than 90 corn plants. During the course of a day, a few minor misalignments could lead to major damage. With AutoTrac RowSense, the operator can be confident that the sprayer is staying in the row, even if they cannot physically see the sprayer wheels.
|Corn population||Operating speed (km/h, mph)||Plants damaged in 1 second of misalignment|
|28,000 seeds per acre||19 km/h (12 mph)||56|
|24 km/h (15 mph)||70|
|29 km/h (18 mph)||85|
|32,000 seeds per acre||19 km/h (12 mph)||64|
|24 km/h (15 mph)||80|
|29 km/h (18 mph)||97|
|36,000 seeds per acre||19 km/h (12 mph)||73|
|24 km/h (15 mph)||91|
|29 km/h (18 mph)||109|
Automatic guidance products offered by John Deere allow operators:
All of these benefits result in more uptime for the equipment and an operator who is more alert throughout the day.