Farmer Focus: Over the moon with autosteer on the combine

Harvest is here again, and I think for many of us we will be glad to get it out of the way and start again.

As farmers/growers I think we are always striving for perfection and looking improve on the previous year (which won’t be hard this year), but as we all know, no two years are the same and what worked last year may not always work this year.

Building a resilient system that can cope with adversities has to be an element of that goal of striving for perfection.

See also: How the new Monitor Farm plans to scrutinise cropping costs

We have had two trial runs with harvest – one cutting our very small area of winter barley and the other cutting part of an OSR field that was fit. Both outings were not without their problems, but hopefully we have now got out all the gremlins so that when the crop and the weather allows, we are good to go.

The trial run did allow me to try out the new integrated AutoTrac system using our existing Greenstar hardware.

Our John Deere dealer has linked a small processor into the CANbus system on our Claas combine, which is enabling me to use AutoTrac through the laser pilot steering medium. It is also now carrying out the yield mapping.

I have been over the moon with it so far and it is great to have a system that works over multiple brands so its use can be fully maximised.   

Results-wise, both the barley and the OSR did exceed my expectations, but bear in mind we have probably cut the best of the OSR and the remaining area will bring the average back down to my conservative estimated budget.  

The farm has been a ray of colour this last few weeks with the Countryside Stewardship mid-tier wild bird mixes, pollen and nectar mixes and the summer cover crop all in full flower. They have also been alive with wildlife and insects and look as impressive underground as they do above.

Have a safe harvest everyone!

Jack Hopkins is the assistant farm manager on a 730ha estate in north Herefordshire on predominantly silty clay loam soils. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, spring oats and peas, plus grassland that supports a flock of 1,000 ewes and 25 pedigree Hereford cattle. See all of his articles.


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