A DEMONSTRATION day focusing on deep ripping depth control last Thursday, organised by AFGRI Equipment Esperance to showcase John Deere's iGrade drainage and levelling system and compatible T3RRA terrain management software, exceeded expectations.
More than 40 farmers, agronomists and representatives from other agricultural service providers attended the customer demonstration day which was hosted by Tim and Heather Creedon on Pleasant Valley Farm at Dalyup, west of Esperance.
AFGRI sales staff drove the big John Deere 9560RT tractor pulling a Nufab Hydramax Deep Ripper capable of ripping to a depth of 800 millimetres for the depth control demonstrations on the customer day and for a training day on the technology attended by AFGRI staff from a number of branches the day before.
"If we had got 10 people attending (the customer demonstration day) we would have been happy, but we got more than 40 which was really great," said one of the organisers, Renae Spencer from AFGRI Esperance.
"We had lots of 'Can I ...' type questions afterwards," Ms Spencer said.
"A lot of the guys already have three quarters of the tools they need (for controlled depth ripping with automatic adjustment) on their scraper buckets.
"They can use the same hardware for deep ripping, it has multiple applications.
"We got a lot of very positive feedback from the day.
"A lot of the farmers who attended were interested in the improved drainage aspects of controlled depth management, which is highly important.
"Some of them indicated that if they had better drainage last year there might not have been so much crop damage," she said.
Ms Spencer said AFGRI precision ag manager Josh Bracken outlined for visitors the "fundamentals" of controlled depth where iGrade in conjunction with T3RRA software can be set up to automatically adjust both the tractor and deep ripper for changes of depth to deal with underground clay pans, gravel, rock and different soil types across paddocks.
Essentially, EM (electromagnetic) mapping of paddocks by a contractor is needed to identify what lies beneath the surface.
Mr Bracken demonstrated how a "prescription map" of a paddock could then be created from the EM map using John Deere Operations Center, the brand's online farm management system.
John Deere Western Australia territory business manager Lance Dickenson then explained in greater detail how iGrade technology allowed the tractor and ripper "to talk to each other", how a "target depth" could be set and "threshold" parameters initiated for engine speed, engine load and wheel slip which will automatically adjust tyne depth to prevent the tractor stalling, wasting fuel or being damaged trying to rip to a set depth that is not achievable at a particular location in the paddock.
T3RRA representative Travis Lobwein, who flew in from Queensland, also explained how the T3RRA software enabled improved drainage and water use efficiency, single and dual plane finishing, adapting "best fit" drainage solutions and continuous progress mapping.
The tractor and ripper were then set up on 'full auto' to deep rip a paddock with visitors invited to take turns riding in the cab with the operator to watch on screen how the tractor and ripper performed in unison.
Gibson farmer Jake Barber was one who found the day informative and interesting.
"It was really good, I've actually got iGrade and I was interested in the drainage aspect of it more than the deep ripping," Mr Barber said.
"With iGrade and the T3RRA program I can create a map of a paddock with the elevations and it will tell me where to put the drains.
"I can set the target depth at 500mm and where there's rock in a paddock I can maybe set it at 200mm and it will automatically adjust the depth.
"I did a little bit with it after the last harvest.
"It's going to be a late harvest this year, but next year I'm going to get stuck into using it for a lot of drainage improvements."
Mr Barber said he also wanted to experiment with the controlled depth and tractor control technology of iGrade to see if it can successfully be adapted to his seeder bar.
He said he has 4800 hectares to sow across variable ground.
"I want to see if I can set it up on the seeder bar so that when we hit a sandy patch and the tractor has to work hard it can raise the depth by a shim or two," Mr Barber said.
With a recent 10mm of rain, Mr Barber said he might sow 400 hectares of GM canola before Easter and "worry about the rest after Easter".
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