Thursday, June 01, 2006

Otto Steer - Episode IV

OK - here is what I have learned from operating two different entry level auto-steer units.

A. Love 'em. The only downside is forgetting that my pickup doesn't have it when I am driving down the road.
B. The learning curve is not bad. Easier than a digital camera.
C. I planted with the JD retrofit unit on an 8320 pulling a 1790 planter. I used the marker just is case. [No, I don't wear a belt and suspenders both] The results were the straightest rows I have ever planted. Really, ask my neighbors.
D. It is astonishing to me how much this technology relieves your mind - not just your muscles. You think you are able to concentrate on other matters while steering, but wait until you can focus all 6 active brain cells on an idea.
E. Unless you want to go to controlled traffic, I don't see any real reason for the more expensive units. Jan ran a JD726 (27.5') finisher consistently with the Trimble EZ-Guide and had no problem. My balk rows seem good to me - I'll check later - assuming all of them come up. Hey - the first planting didn't!!
F. You run out of places to put your arms. Either you ride with your arms folded or on your lap or behind your head...
G. You can't really write while planting, even with autosteer. It is however, a good chance to read the planter/monitor/guidance manual, scrutinize the no-till colter you think is too shallow, or watch what your neighbor is doing. For that matter I feel like I had a chance to truly see my fields for a change.
H. I tried the EZ-Steer briefly on my Apache sprayer. I did not have time for intense adjustment, but at 15 mph, I was much better off just using the lightbar. I'll write more later in the spray season.
I. The JD unit has about 6 billion adjustment combinations for fidgety tweakers who can't leave the knobs alone. Not me, of course.

Agriculture is an industry that absorbs technology like farmers inhale free donuts. Some of it will make our professional careers easier and longer and necessarily fewer.

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