This year, we outfitted our John Deere combine with auto-steer guided by global positioning satellites (GPS). A receiver mounted on the roof of the machine relays the satellite signal to a control monitor in the cab of the combine. This multi-purpose display monitor controls the auto-steer system and also produces infield yield maps, which are closely reviewed for the following year’s seed and chemical applications. Each yield map can then be printed and compared to the field’s soil types. This allows us to manage chemical, fertilizer and seed application for each acre on each farm.
Our family believes a commitment to implementing precision-agriculture tools is necessary to manage costs and protect our landowner’s investment. As with the guidance system installed on our planting tractor, the operator’s mental and physical fatigue is reduced, which increases safety while decreasing the likelihood of mistakes. Although my grandfather was initially tentative allowing the machine to “drive itself,” the unpredictability of the season led to small windows of opportunity to work long hours harvesting the crop. After 50 years in a combine, he enjoyed eating his first meal with two hands … this was a great year to install the system!