Midnight cultivations after a summer of long nights mean the high standards of even the proudest tractor driver can slump.
Pitch-black headland turns can be like pinning the tail on the donkey – sometimes it proves near impossible to see where bouts begin. Often the result is a rather unsightly wiggle as you find your way in.
Claas hopes to have solved at least part of the problem with the introduction of its Auto Turn system. With driverless tractors sneaking ever closer, Auto Turn is the part that will take care of the headland manoeuvre at the end of each bout.
First, the operator must mark out the boundary of a new field (which can subsequently be saved for future use), including any obstacles.
Before getting started the driver also needs to select how far from the headland that the menu pops up, as well as turning speeds – which affects the size of the turning circle – and the number of bouts left between each run.
Once in work the driver just has to select whether to turn left or right on the pop-up menu. Pressing the “Go” button begins the turn.
At the following headland the system will presume it is to turn in the opposite direction.
“The key part of the system is that it makes sure implements enter a bout dead straight,” says Claas steering specialist Edward Miller.
“That way you don’t end up with a wobble as the guidance kicks in and tries to get the implement running accurately. There should be far less overlapping and misses for those operators that use the Auto Turn system,” he says.
It doesn’t plumb into the headland management system, though, so operators must press the headland management and Auto Turn buttons separately.
The manual part of the system – pressing the “Go” button to start the turn – sets it apart from John Deere’s iTEC (intelligent total equipment control) Pro. Launched way back in 2007, it completes everything automatically and operators can set a virtual mark from where the turn will begin.
But Claas’ system should keep harvest students off their phone and wide awake to stop them landing up in the hedge.
Auto Turn costs £900 and is available on all current Claas GPS Pilot S3 systems (it can also be activated on any terminal bought over the past 18 months).
Claas says you can use Auto Turn in conjunction with any brand of tractor, too, but it’s not suitable for use with combines or its mighty Xerion tractor.