You've watched from the sidelines as the perceptions of other farmers about GPS technology evolved from "It'll never work” to "I wouldn't farm without it.” You've observed your neighbors, studied their fields and done your homework. It's time to write some checks and bring GPS technology to your farm.
There will be challenges. There will be times when you'll want to pitch all the displays, wiring harnesses and owner's manuals out of the cab and go back to "just farming.”
But there will also be a moment when you push a button and the tractor, combine or sprayer starts laying out precise, straight swaths and you'll want to stand on top of the cab and shout, "I'm king of the world!”
It's a big jump from sitting on the technological sidelines to that moment of triumph. To help take the plunge into this technology, here are 12 things you need to know before you buy a GPS system:
The basic concept of GPS technology.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses a network of satellites to calculate the precise location of a vehicle, piece of farm equipment or hand-held receiver on the face of the Earth.
GPS systems have multiple uses on modern farms.
There are many ways farmers can use GPS technology on the farm:
Yield mapping blends on-the-go yield data with GPS information to create maps that show how yields vary across your fields.
GPS-based guidance systems help direct machines through fields, eliminating the need to follow rows or use mechanical or foam markers.
- Mid-February 2010