John Deere has recently joined the ranks of those offering complete GPS-based systems capable of adding a high level
of automation to drainage construction. Company reps introduced their new iGrade system at the U. S. Farm Progress show in Iowa at the end of August.
“It (iGrade) is a controller that will plug into the tractor and integrate itself,” says Tyler Hogrefe, Deere’s product specialist for Ag Management Solutions. It has four different water-management applications. Prairie farmers will find the drainage ditch construction feature the most valuable.
iGrade automates control of the scraper blade to simplify basic grade and slope construction. To make iGrade work, a producer needs to drive the field to be drained with a tractor while the system compiles vertical elevation data. Once that is done, it’s ready to start work. The iGrade system will then control the amount of cut necessary to properly slope ditches.
And it can be paired with Deere’s Surface Water ProPlus software, which will help plan optimum drainage ditch routes to minimize the amount of dirt farmers need to move to get jobs done. Prior to the release of iGrade, producers using Surface Water ProPlus, which has been available for about a year, had to manually work SCVs to keep the scraper cutting at the correct depth. iGrade adds automation to the system.
“If you’re looking for advanced ditching functionality, you would buy both iGuide and Surface Water Pro Plus,” adds Hogrefe. “If you were just looking to create a slope or a grade automatically, you can buy just the iGrade controller.”
iGrade is designed to be compatible with 8000 8R, 8RT and 9000 Series tractors. “The interface for the iGrade controller is through the GreenStar (monitors),” says Hogrefe. There is no additional equipment inside the cab. “That’s a huge advantage our customers appreciate. No more clutter in the cab.”
iGrade costs US$4,000. Pairing it with Surface Water ProPlus will add another US$5,500 to the price tag.