Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Look! No hands! Tractor operation goes high-tech


April 1, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

mfautoguidejpgThe Auto-Guide™ satellite-based
steering system from AGCO Global Technologies is now available on
Challenger, Massey Ferguson, Fendt and other high horsepower AGCO
tractors.

mfautoguidejpgThe Auto-Guide™ satellite-based steering system from AGCO Global Technologies is now available on Challenger, Massey Ferguson, Fendt and other high horsepower AGCO tractors.

“Auto-Guide, when combined with our other technologies, helps boost operator productivity,” says Todd Stucke, general marketing manager of AGCO tractors. “The steering assistance from Auto-Guide reduces operator fatigue from constant steering adjustment and allows the operator to concentrate on field operations. Fieldwork can now be completed as effectively at night or in low visibility as in daylight hours.”

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“Auto-Guide will save our customers money on every pass across a field and they can select the level of accuracy right for the operation,” says Massey Ferguson general marketing manager Rene Boivin.

“We’ve received a lot of interest in Auto-Guide, especially from our precision farming minded users who are looking for increased efficiency and productivity,” adds Tom Weir, general marketing manager for Fendt. “They see it as an opportunity to get even more out of their Fendt technology and other resources.”

According to AGCO, Auto-Guide promises an immediate return on investment. Depending on the level of accuracy required, it can reduce or even eliminate overlaps and skips to maximize use of labour, machinery, operator time and crop inputs. Eliminating a two-foot overlap on every pass with a 40-foot toolbar reduces fuel use and wear and tear on equipment by approximately five per cent. It is the economic equivalent of getting an additional five acres production from every 100 acres farmed.

Auto-Guide can also be used at speeds up to 25 km per hour, even at night or under limited visibility.

How does it work?

Auto-Guide is made up of three components – the Auto-Guide Ready kit, the TopDock and the Auto-Guide Terminal.

The Auto-Guide Ready kit is the only component that is permanently installed in the tractor. It contains the vehicle interface unit (VIU), sensors and hydraulics, cabling and brackets.

The TopDock module is usually mounted on the top of the tractor cab. It houses the system’s GPS (global positioning system) antenna, steering controller/receiver and the Dynamic Measuring Unit (DMU).

The GPS antenna receives L1 and L2 GPS signals, OmniStar™ differential GPS data signals, as well as the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) correction signal.

Auto-Guide’s steering controller/ receiver deciphers all of the information received by the GPS antenna, the DMU, the terminal and the optional FM data radio. Based on this received information, it then generates the control signals required to steer the machine. Based on the level of information received and the installed software, the steering controller/receiver can offer sub-meter, decimeter or centimeter accurate steering.

The DMU uses electronic rather than mechanical gyro techniques to measure the tractor’s position and direction. It continually calculates the equipment’s side-to-side tipping angle heading direction and front-to-back tipping angle.

The Auto-Guide Terminal is an easy-to-read colour monitor and keyboard, which serves as operator interface with the Auto-Guide system. Operators use it to enter, store and retrieve information. Like a personal computer, the terminal provides both icons and keywords for simple, logical interaction.

Both the TopDock and Auto-Guide Terminal can be removed from tractors and transferred to other Auto-Guide-equipped machines, allowing for increased flexibility.

“This allows our customers to spread their investment over multiple machines and experience the technology over multiple field practices,” says Boivin.

For more information about Auto-Guide, please visit your local AGCO dealer or visit www.agcocorp.com.