Source: North Queensland Register

Editor's Note: This article includes an interview with John Obern, a sales manager from a North Queensland farm equipment dealership, Honeycombes Sales & Service.

The past four years of reef rescue grants has most certainly changed farming practices across North Queensland.

Of all the technologies adopted, none has been better received or utilized than the implementation of GPS on farm tractors, planters and harvesting operations.

John Deere sees GPS as much more than straight lines. Their agricultural management solutions (AMS) department has been busy inventing solutions to help farmers save time, better manage fertilizer and spray application and record field information, among a host of other applications.

Honeycombes northern sales manager John Obern said the John Deere engineers are forever coming up with something new for them to offer their client base.

"Honeycombes has been a leader in the field when it comes to GPS; we took the plunge over five years ago and started identifying key areas to set up a base station network of RTK base stations.

"This is a system of fixed reference points where a farmer local to a particular area can log-on and use the Honeycombes base stations to ensure up to a 2cm +/- reputable accuracy," John said.

This saves set-up expense at point of purchase, and offers the convenience of farmers being able to use more than one base in a particular area.

"It seems every new tractor is sporting a new yellow GPS receiver these days - ask anyone who has one and they would tell you they don't know how they ever farmed without it."

Honeycombes currently have RTK base stations set up in several Far North Queensland sugar areas including Ayr, Ingham, Tully, Tolga and Mareeba, with proposed areas including Mulgrave high on the agenda.

They currently employ two AMS specialists - Craig Gilbert and Des Carroll.

With the uptake of this technology in Queensland these specialists are kept extremely busy, and with the latest additions of land leveling function there will soon be a whole new area of expansion on the horizon.

Both Mr Gilbert and Mr Carroll recently visited AMS head office in the US to explore the latest offerings and get a glimpse of new products soon to be released.

"Don't be surprised if you get a text message from your new John Deere 7R or 8R letting you know the service is due," said Mr Obern.