Final Word On Auto-Steer (For Now)

Last week I referenced a study claiming automatic steering is the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of agriculture. Given all the benefits and the current payback potential for saving chemical, fertilizer, fuel, and seed, I had to concur. Last night, I got some affirmation from a cotton grower that’s three years into his use of a real-time kinematic steering system. I was interviewing him for a story that will run in the June issue of Cotton Grower magazine, one of our sister publications.

The first question Jared Fiveash and his family asked their local Trimble dealer was, what can the system do for their farm — today, the question is, “what can’t this system do?” he says.

Jared uses it for every field activity, from harvest to seed placement to application. There have been input savings that he doesn’t offer an estimate on, but one of the most profound and important benefits has been reduced fatigue, increased productivity, and decreased labor needs.

“You can’t find folks around here who want to run the equipment anymore, this situation is terrible,” says Jared. Automatic steering has really helped the labor issue for us.”

As for reduced fatigue, he and his father can go an extra hour or two every day, “and the next morning we’re ready to go again.”

I’ve been guilty of focusing on the search for monetary paybacks on technology like auto-steer, and while this is important there is clearly a quality of life aspect to the hands-free revolution that’s a big part, if not the biggest part, of why it’s gotten so big, so fast.

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