John Deere's iGrade focuses on ditches, leveling

John Deere's iGrade focuses on ditches, leveling

John Deere offers three options for GPS-assisted grading and ditching using GreenStar 2600 and 2630 monitors. They include iGrade, a controller and software package that automates land grading, ditching and other distance-based hydraulic commands, which Deere introduced in the fall of 2010.

Deere also offers two software packages for generating ditches and levees: Surface Water Pro and Surface Water Pro Plus. When used with iGrade, the Pro Plus program’s sophisticated planning features complement more rudimentary iGrade drainage planning capabilities and automate the grading process, says Tyler Hogrefe, a senior technical product manager with John Deere Agricultural Management Solutions.

Hogrefe confirms that recent wet springs have accelerated interest in harnessing existing on-farm GPS capabilities to improve drainage. “In Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado, we are seeing more demand for land leveling,” he says. “In the Midwest, we are also seeing more people wanting to manage their ditches. Many ditches have been left untouched for years. Now growers can reclaim ditches themselves using a lot of the precision technology they already own.”

John Deere added a new function called Max Cut to iGrade this summer to simplify ditch cleaning and other grading tasks. Max Cut allows users to set a series of sub-cuts needed to make large grade changes, a task that typically requires manual overrides, Hogrefe notes.

The suggested retail price of iGrade is $500 for the application controller, plus a $4,000 activation fee. The activation fee for Surface Water Pro is $3,000 and $5,500 for Surface Water Pro Plus. Surface Water Pro and Surface Water Pro Plus can use either SF2 or RTK correction signals. RTK corrections are required for iGrade. None of the three packages is approved for use with tile plows because John Deere does not warrant use of its tractors for tiling.

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