GPS: Where are we going?

Uncle Gene recently invested into a small guidance system for the farm. So far, the guys have really enjoyed fiddling around with it and learning how it works.

I posted a picture on my Facebook today of Jared setting it up to spread oats with the tag-a-long. One of the comments I received made me giggle, “Do you get lost in the field?”

It’s a great question! The answer is yes, occasionally we do! However, it’s not the “Holy cow, how do I get home?” kind of lost but the “Haven’t I planted this already?” kind of bewilderment.

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Oat seed are very small. We don’t plant or drill them into the ground when we are planting a cover crop. Instead we scatter them using a wagon called a tag-a-long that has plates on the back that fling the seed over a a wide area behind the wagon as we pull it. It’s a similar concept to those small, homeowner fertilizer spreaders. After the oats have been spread, we disc them in. The disc disturbs the ground just enough to chop weeds and cover the seed.

The GPS is handy because, from the tractor seat, the driver can’t see if he or she is running over ground that already has oats spread on it. The GPS marks on the screen in one color where the oats are already on the ground, in another color where oats need to be spread and another where we have overlapped. It also, has a row of lights that help keep the driver aware of the right path (the sweet spot where the tractor is perfectly centered.) This helps prevent overlap and saves seed and money.

The GPS is not only useful for spreading small grain, but for spraying chemicals. It helps prevent us from spraying too many chemicals by helping us identify areas that have already had chemicals applied. This is beneficial not only financially but environmentally. It enables us to use just the chemicals we need, which means the excess doesn’t end up washing away into nearby creeks.

So far, we are loving the GPS (which we named Minkus by the way because he’s so smart!) Do any of you have experience with GPS and agriculture? Do y’all have tips for a couple of newbies?

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5 thoughts on “GPS: Where are we going?

  1. I see Cecilia is here already. She has good taste. I landed here while doing a bit of research, earlier this week, to inspire a blog post about tractor seats. You were immediately added to the reading list, of course. This is a difficult time for many farmers, but I suspect it is also an exciting time. All the technological innovations make life easier, but also raise many questions and demand that you constantly adjust and reconsider in order to stay in line with your values. What a journey!

  2. Pingback: Weekend Highlights – Noteworthy Articles by Fellow Bloggers – March 2, 2013 | Granny's Parlour

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