Called AutoTrac Vision the new system uses a high resolution front-mounted camera to automatically guide selected tractor and self-propelled sprayer models down established crop rows, effectively providing guidance without the need for guidance lines.
Jack Howard, the company’s AMS product sales specialist says; “AutoTrac Vision allows users to bring more technology and automation to operations that are still driven manually. We see this being a big step forward in precision agriculture, to help producers enhance their equipment performance, improve machine uptime and reduce operating costs.”
The system features a hybrid steering setup continuously merging two data streams, a GPS correctional signal and the available image data recorded by the onboard camera system optimising machinery operation in early-season grain or maize crops says the manufacturer.
It essentially means users can benefit from automated steering in fields that have been planted without a guidance system, or where an existing guidance line is unavailable.
The company says the camera will detect the tramline or plant row and steer the machine along it, keeping the vehicle wheels in the centre between rows to reduce crop damage and help increase yields. In situations where it cannot detect a row, the system will fall back to an auto-generated guidance line.
Mr Howard says the combined use of camera and GPS technology should allow operators to work faster, with less stress and at speeds of up to 30kph. He says it can also be used to guide implements, such as inter-row weeders.
The fusion of a camera image and automatically generated A-B line ensures that even in spots where the camera is unable to detect distinctive crop rows, the system will still guide the machine says the company. It says when working with a slurry tanker in early season maize, the plants need to be 10cm high for the system to differentiate between crop and soil. The company also says the system will work at night.
Currently the camera guidance system can be retrofitted to the manufacturer’s 6M, 6R, 7R and 8R/8RT Series tractors plus its R Series self-propelled sprayers.
Prices vary depending on the machine the system is being fitted to, but as a guide, the camera and installation kit retails at around £4,000 on the basis that the customer already has a Gen4 version 2 GreenStar display with Premium activation, or a 2630 display with AutoTrac & RowSense activations.