Rate controllers reduce input costs — bottom line — and every grower is looking for ways to decrease seed and chemical costs while maintaining maximum yield, reports Lisa Heacox on CropLife.com.
“Customers will continue to buy more advanced rate controllers as long as they are convinced the return on investment is beneficial for their business,” says T.J. Schulte, market manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division.
Manufacturers are addressing some of the buying issues users face when trying to get the best units for their needs. Several companies we spoke with agreed that one of the biggest challenges is finding controllers that will work across a diverse fleet of machines.
“Users with mixed fleets or multiple types of equipment with variable-rate swath widths or number of sections need a system that works with any brand and is simple to set up,” says Alex Lundgren, product sales specialist with Ag Leader.
In fact, one of the biggest developments recently is the number of precision components that are becoming ISOBUS compatible. The new generation of Ag Leader’s DirectCommand rate controllers includes the ISOBUS Liquid Control Module and the ISOBUS Serial Application Rate Module, Lundgren says. New enhancements provide greater overall system control and critical system information visibility, as well as accommodate for today’s increasingly sophisticated application equipment including support of additional boom sections, wider variety of control valves, flow meters, temperature sensors, and pressure sensors.
TeeJet is continuing to integrate ISOBUS capability/compatibility into several models of its control and monitoring systems. “This allows our controls to be ‘plug and play’ compatible with ISOBUS equipped machines and third-party control,” says Tim Stuenkel, global marketing communications manager. “It also allows users to enjoy a less cluttered cab, more consistent user interface and reduced cost of adding new technology to their machines.”
AgJunction just released its Advanced Task Controller, which allows for control on most ISOBUS-capable equipment without the need for another terminal in the cab. It ties to the company’s Virtual Terminal feature on the Outback MAX display for implement control — including automatic section control and rate control on planters and seeders.
Topcon’s new Apollo Sprayer ECU (electronic control unit) supports ISO Can messages as well as the Topcon Horizon user interface. A multi-channel control unit that Harlan Little, product manager, precision agriculture applications, says “is the next generation of ECU,” it connects to sensors and valves to control the actual rate and section control. “It can be retro-fitted and will be a welcome piece to an OEM looking for a simple, reliable control unit,” he adds.