Guidance systems will grow

11 Aug, 2004 10:00 PM

EXPERIENCED agriguidance operator and east Hyden farmer Geoff Marshall believed there wouldn't be a large price fall in guidance systems within four years.

He said a price drop in guidance systems would probably be more gradual.

Mr Marshall operates a fuzzy tramline cropping system on his property and has used a guidance system for four years.

Despite some farmers viewing guidance as costly, Mr Marshall said it was a new dawn in technology and the popularity of agriguidance would grow.

"There's enough dollars driving the decision to jump in at any time," Mr Marshall said.

If most farmers did their sums correctly and went to a high accuracy guidance system they would pay for their unit in a short time, he said.

"Give it another four years and I'd say most people will either be using them (guidance systems) or very seriously considering using them," he said.

"I suspect the user rate will probably grow exponentially over the next few years."

Mr Marshall said his decision to use autosteer was a natural progression for an efficient cropping system - just like the conversion to no-till farming.

"There are many benefits and very few disadvantages," he said.

The commercial interest in agriguidance was largely profit-driven, and that was the way farmers should view it too, Mr Marshall said.

He said guidance was becoming simpler to use and farmers did not need to be technological experts to operate them.

"It's a matter of relaxing with the technology because they are relatively simple to use," Mr Marshall said.

"Quite honestly the sky's the limit for the technology we are using today."

Pingrup farmer Paul Hicks completed his university honours on autoguidance and GPS, and worked in the research and development department on guidance at Muresk.

He runs a 2800ha mixed farming property with his family trialing variable rate seeding, spray and spreading guidance.

He said there were many benefits to agriguidance, but there were pitfalls farmers should be aware of.

He said guidance manufacturers needed to be more reliable in the products they produced.

"The cabling is what lets us down nine times out of ten," Mr Hicks said.

Most hardware, cabling and ports were designed for an office situation, not the conditions out in the paddock in a tractor cab.

Another major problem for the industry was the quality of the mounting brackets.

"Vibration kills guidance, most brackets on the market are inadequate," Mr Hicks said.

"You spend $20,000 on a system and you get $50 worth of brackets."

Mr Hicks made his own brackets to ensure mountings were solid.

He said there was a further need for analysis of data in the field and easy record keeping.

Mr Hicks also said there was no need to purchase a new tractor to have autosteer.



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