Tasmanian John Deere dealer Midland Tractors demonstrated the precision agriculture systems now available to farmers who subscribe to its new RTK (real-time kinetic) network that has been set up in Tasmania’s northern Midlands and northeast.
The integrated solutions manager at Midland Tractors, Jamie Ellis, drove hands-free on auto-steer around the demonstration paddock at Agfest field days at Carrick earlier this month, while using the error-correction signals from an RTK base station at nearby Westwood, about 7km (4 mi) north of the Quercus Park field days site.
He said this accuracy could be achieved with even a modest, satellite-based autosteer system from any manufacturer.
“But what we are doing here, it is all about repeatability,’’ he said.
“We want to be able to come back to this same paddock day after day and repeat the same path we’ve plotted.”
He said the farmers using guidance from satellites alone might be able to go around the paddock once and then two hours later and still be within 50mm (2 in), but they might come back the day after or next week and be 900mm (35 in) out.
“With our RTK base stations, we can offer that repeatability, that certainty,” he said.
The first of the base stations in the Midland Tractors private network have been activated at Westwood, Hummock Hills in the Midlands and Mount Horror, which is about 30km (18 mi) east of Scottsdale. Midland Tractors borrowed a recently delivered machine from customer John Williams of Legerwood, in the state’s northeast, also near Scottsdale, for the purposes of the Agfest demonstration in a sticky demonstration paddock soaked by steady autumn rain.
“It’s probably lucky it was wet, he wouldn’t have been using his tractor in the wet weather this week anyway,” Mr Ellis said.
The John Deere 7200R tractor was also outfitted with John Deere’s latest precision systems for headland management, to ensure that tractor operators can pre-plan their operations of implements, and lower the revs automatically as they begin to turn at the top of the paddock.
The module is called Intelligent Total Equipment Control, or ITEC Pro, a module within the Greenstar equipment from John Deere.
The tractor was equipped with a golf club tied to the three-point linkage to whack golf balls teed up along one side of the demonstration arena. Where the undulations on the other side of the arena prevented a golf shot, they set up eggs on the tees to demonstrate how they were safe from the wheels of the John Deere tractor.
Mr. Ellis said the tractor dealer was willing to talk to farmers and contractors who wanted RTK sites set up in their working areas.
Midland Tractors is Tasmania’s sole John Deere dealer for farm machinery.