Recent innovations by combine harvester makers Claas and New Holland are pushing the boundaries of GPS to ever-greater accuracy, leading to welcome cost and efficiency savings for farmers.
Claas recently launched its transferable auto-steering system. GPS Pilot Flex attaches to the steering column of both combine harvesters and tractors. The unit is straightforward to transfer, allowing different farm vehicles to benefit from automatic ‘hands-free’ GPS steering.
In combines and tractors already fitted with the Claas GPS Pilot S3 automatic steering terminal, all that is needed is to swap the steering wheel over. Other vehicles also require the S3 terminal, navigation processor and GPS antenna to be swapped over.
GPS Flex is compatible with RTK Real Time Kinematic tripods and transmitters to obtain even greater steering precision.
Meanwhile, New Holland are busy rolling out their own rival state-of-the-art GPS guidance system across the UK. New Holland claim their systems can now pinpoint moving combine harvesters down to within 2.5cm.
New Holland are rapidly expanding their UK coverage with Real Time Kinematic (RTK) radio base stations. Right now there are 14 New Holland dealerships with RTK base stations, each giving reliable coverage over 700 square miles. By using the mobile phone network coverage can be further extended.
RTK systems work by radio stations, in conjunction with local repeaters, providing a fixed tracking point for working vehicles, providing corrections as necessary.
Localised RTK radio base stations in conjunction with New Holland’s EZ Pilot automatic GPS guidance allows an electric motor to steer the wheel of a combine harvester. This frees up the operator to concentrate on other efficiency savings whilst also allowing longer working hours with less fatigue.
The New Holland Precision Land Management system now makes it possible to remotely track the location and progress of a team of combines and tractors from a single computer screen.
These new developments in GPS technology benefit farmers and combine harvester operators who know only too well that any improvements in accuracy lead to greater efficiency and welcome savings of time and fuel.