NORM LARSEN WHO FARMS NEAR EDMONTON ASKS:
When shopping for a lightbar guidance system this spring, I found it very difficult to find someone who could tell me whether their lightbar machines were capable of tracking field size. This is a feature that I really wanted. I ended up buying an Outback S-Lite system. I’m happy with the system, but I’m curious, what other lightbar systems offer this useful feature?
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The answer comes from Pam Haegeman, GIS Technician with Mazer Group in Brandon, Man. She is also the precision farming specialist with Manitoba Zero Till Research Association.
HERE IS HER RESPONSE:
Most newer GPS lightbars out there will track the acres applied or even tell you how big your field is if you complete a headland.
The EZ-Guide 500 or 250 from Trimble/Case IH/New Holland has a wonderful screen for the price. Each has a colour screen that paints where you have been and counts the acres that you have painted on the screen. It has a manual option so you can start and stop the painting whenever you want. Also if you choose to do a headland it will calculate how many acres are within that headland. You’ll find the acres tally in an easily assessable (one button) info screen. If you are looking for a numeric value and a visual picture of where you have been and how much you have done (where are the overlaps, skips, etc.), I enjoy the EZ-500 screen and easy set up of these systems.
Outback, as you’ve stated also has a function that counts acres. It will count field or total area.
John Deere and Raven systems also have this function available. The Raven system has an area counter on the bird’s eye view screen. The John Deere performance monitor will keep track of acres also. The Newest LED lightbar from John Deere does not do area tracking. Higher end monitors from Trimble and John Deere, for example, will allow you to create boundaries around a field and create areas within in the field where there is no crop (such as sloughs) to more accurately calculate acres.
There are many levels of lightbars with many levels of price ranges. When looking for a lightbar, look for upgradability (such as to a steering system, or a higher GPS signal, or to a variable-rate system). Most producers will start with a lightbar but end up upgrading. It is horrible to find out you spent thousands of dollars on a lightbar that is not upgradable and you have to buy something completely different.