Farm Industry News

Why let your tractor drive itself?

GPS-guided assisted steering

  • Improves accuracy (tillage, planting, spraying, fertilization)
  • Reduces fuel, seed, herbicide, fertilizer costs
  • Allows daylight accuracy during night operations, at faster speeds
  • Allows the driver to focus on the implement
  • Reduces driver stress, body aches and pains

If want any of these benefits, then you should consider this satellite-driven technology, now entering its 10th year on the market. It’s not about being lazy. It’s all about making your equipment more precise and more cost-effective…and giving yourself a break from stress, too.

Think in basic terms of overlap on every pass across the field. University researchers — and farmers who use assisted steering — have proven a consistent 5 to 10% reduction in overlap. And in situations like spraying — where you try to follow globs of disappearing marker foam 30 to 45 ft. to the side of your tractor — you can imagine that the payback from assisted steering can be even higher.

Now, do the math. There’s 5 to 10% fuel savings for every operation (tillage, anhydrous/liquid fertilizer, preplant/preemergent herbicides, planting, etc.). There’s 5 to 10% reduced cost for inputs (fertilizer, herbicides, etc.). To help you ballpark your own savings, visit and click on Guidance Calculator on the right-hand side of the page.

“Depending on the crop, the return on investment in a guidance package can be much greater and the payback much faster,” says Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “The scalability and affordability of these newer systems give producers who farm from 500 to 50,000 acres a chance to use the technology and expand it to include mapping and variable-rate applications.”

And when you visit, check out the profiles on some of the producers who have experience with assisted steering. Wheat grower Greg Hannay, Rosetown, Saskatchewan, says, “When you consider chemical and fuel costs, when you spray something that’s as high as $25 to $30 an application per acre, it doesn’t take long on an overlap to lose money. You can set your course [with assisted steering] and hold that path which saves a lot of money in a short amount of time.”

Reducing overlap is just one way that assisted steering makes a farming operation more efficient. Experienced users with field data maps find even greater savings with variable-rate fertilizer, strip-tillage, varied seeding rates and numerous other methods — which will be discussed in future e-mails.

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