Innovation: Tru Count Automates Planter Clutch

Combine years of hard work with having the right product at the right time, and what do you get? An American success story. And in this case, it also happens to be in agriculture.

The company, Tru Count, introduced the first GPS-driven planter clutch in the fall of 2006, and in less than a year received the attention of virtually every precision equipment, tractor, and implement maker in the U.S., and several abroad. But it was a long road to “overnight success.”

Based in Ames, IA, Tru Count was started in 1982 by father-son team Glen and Tom Dillman, who set out to make a mechanical acre counter for a planter. A successful but short lived business was born, as radar and electronic technology ultimately displaced mechanics.

This led to a new project in 1988. Tom and his brother Jeff set out to develop a technology that would provide some measure of planter control to the family’s 12-row unit to reduce overlaps in point rows. The Conser Clutch was developed and as a commercial product enjoys success to this day.

By 2001, Jeff could see that the holy grail would be tying the clutch to a GPS system. However, the accuracy was not yet available at a cost that most growers could afford. In 2005, when automatic spray boom control started rolling out, the Dillmans knew the time was right.

The biggest development hurdle was the issue of power. The traditional clutch system would prove too severe of an electrical draw to be practical, so Jeff developed a clutch that’s air-actuated. “An air valve takes a miniscule amount of juice, about a half an amp, to open the valve and push the piston to engage the clutch,” says Jeff Dillman.

Using valves to control the clutches, the system makes it possible to control individual rows, or groups of rows in virtually any configuration desired by the grower. Due to the small electrical draw, it’s possible to pack as many or few valves as needed without any compromise to the system, says Dillman.

At this point, the system is more limited by the accuracy of the GPS signal than anything else. “Most manufacturers don’t want to go less than 2 rows per valve,” says Jeff. “The system is ready to handle single row when manufacturers feel confident enough in the GPS.”

Says Iowa grower Clay Mitchell, a first generation user this year and Tru Count true believer, the company’s rise is nothing short of astonishing.

People recognize that it’s a big deal,” says Mitchell. “In meetings I have had with OEMs Tru Count has become iconic as a company that snuck up on them. It’s as if we woke up one day and found this really obvious functionality they’ve missed for years.”

Leave a Reply

Tools & Smart Equipment Stories
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 acre Coverage Ceiling
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
John Deere ExactApply
AmericasSciFi in Ag: Self-Reacting Spray Nozzles to Fight Dicamba Drift
September 5, 2018
Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Tools & Smart EquipmentCanadian Planter Manufacturer Purchases Harvest International
July 19, 2018
Seeding and planting technology innovator Clean Seed has signed an agreement to strategically acquire U.S. planting equipment manufacturer Harvest International, Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversStine Seed Plunks Down $5 Million on Smart Ag’s Driverless Tractor Kit
June 14, 2018
Stine Seed Farm has invested $5 million in Smart Ag Inc., an Iowa technology firm that has developed a full Read More
Trending Articles
Mike-Gomes
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
October 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Latest News
rivkaGarcia_FarmsToIncubators_1kpx
Events‘From Farms to Incubators’ Documentary High…
October 18, 2018
“From Farms to Incubators: Telling the stories of minority women entrepreneurs in agtech in the Salinas Valley and beyond” will Read More
ConceptsInAction
Service ProvidersPutting Agronomic Advice Into Action – A Full-Season Fi…
October 17, 2018
It’s one thing to read, write, or know about helping customers best manage their fields – it’s another to put Read More
Hurricane-Florence-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementMythbusting: Is Weather More Unpredictable Due to a Cha…
October 16, 2018
There are some commonly spoken narratives that are actually false, at least as stated in the exact words used, that Read More
Pix4Dfields_usecase_prunes_farm
DronesEnhance Your Agriculture Workflow in Less Than 30 Minut…
October 15, 2018
Prunes are European plums with a high sugar content that allows them to dry without fermenting around the pit and Read More
Winfield
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Winfield United
October 15, 2018
Joel Wipperfurth of Winfield United discusses ag technology trends and topics during the 2018 InfoAg Conference. Read More
Fetters
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Simplot Grower Solutions
October 15, 2018
Allan Fetters of Simplot Grower Solutions discusses ag technology trends and topics across the industry, and within the company, during Read More
Chappell
PrecisionAg InstituteEncouraging Employees to Think Into the Future is Winni…
October 15, 2018
EFC Systems CEO Ernie Chappell says his company is always looking ahead to understand growers’ future needs. “It’s not just Read More
Raven-SDSU
PrecisionAg InstitutePartnership with SDSU is One Way Raven Industries Advan…
October 15, 2018
Raven Industries’ partnership with South Dakota State University allows the company to work closely with students and staff to advance Read More
Proagrica
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Kirk Appleford, Proagrica
October 15, 2018
Kirk Appleford joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to talk about current ag trends, and Proagrica’s recent acquisition Read More
ESRI
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Charlie Magruder, ESRI
October 15, 2018
Charlie Magruder joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of current trends in technology that are impacting ESRI, including news from Read More
Shane-Swedlund
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Shane Swedlund, Raven Industries
October 15, 2018
Shane Swedlund of Raven Industries joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to share some key learnings from the Read More
Mike-Gomes
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
Ernie-Chappell-and-Paul
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Ernie Chappell, EFC Systems
October 15, 2018
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, to talk about topics and trends Read More
Auto-Thinner
Robotics/Labor SaversPrecision Agriculture in Specialty Crops: Labor, Cost S…
October 9, 2018
Agriculture is going through an equivalent of what the computer industry went through in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when Read More
Growing-Innovations-logo
EventsA Crazy 2018 is Why We Need Growing Innovations
October 8, 2018
If you’re here you likely have received a special Meister Media Worldwide code to get $100 off your registration to Read More
AmericasConBAP 2018 Highlights Precision Agriculture in Brazil
October 8, 2018
The Brazilian Congress of Precision Agriculture 2018 (ConBAP 2018) was held October 2-4 in Curitiba, Paraná. Held every two years, Read More
GAR-Tootelian-Sensor
Service ProvidersGar Tootelian: Putting Ag Technology to the Test
October 8, 2018
In California’s Central Valley, a diverse crop market in which Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) are the dominant players when it Read More
Spray Drift
Decision Support SoftwareHow Technology Can Help You Prevent Spray Drift
October 8, 2018
Spray drift. News articles about damage caused by spray drift seem to pop up regularly, almost as daily reminders, during Read More