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Automated End-of-Row Turns a Must for Large Potato Contractor



Ben Clappison farms over 1,619 acres of potatoes on a contract basis. With the cost of planting, growing and harvesting speed potatoes averaging about £4,942/a, it is crucial for his beds to be planted as accurately as possible. If beds are too wide, he’s wasting soil and if they’re too narrow he won’t maximise his yield potential.


Achieve Precision-Level Accuracy by Upgrading an Older Machine


In 2018, Mr Clappinson decided to invest in a tractor for cultivating and potato bed forming. After evaluating both new and older tractor options and finding the cost of a new, guidance-equipped tractor to be prohibitively expensive, he decided to purchase a 2010 Case 485 STX Quadtrac that he could then outfit with new guidance technology.


Much of the bed forming work that Mr Clappinson does requires the ability to cultivate down to 60cm deep. At this depth, the implement width is relatively narrow and as a result, many turns are made in the field. With these challenges in mind, he tried NextSwath to give him the control and ability to make very tight turns that could never be made effectively if done manually. After a successful trial, he was happy with the results and ultimately chose the GFX-750 display system to achieve the level of accuracy he needed in his operation.


How Trimble® NextSwath™ Works



Disclaimer: Screenshot from Beta version of product taken during an in-field test and not currently available in market.

When approaching the end of a crop row, the NextSwath technology automatically calculates and executes the best possible path to turn the vehicle and approach the next crop row or swath. Users working with a towed implement can also enable the option to optimise the turn for the implement position. By automating the turning process, the NextSwath solution can:

  • Dramatically improve the operator’s performance

  • Eliminate towed implement undershooting or overshooting

  • Minimise skips and overlaps when lining up for the next row.

This improved turning efficiency and repeatability can increase yield and prevent crop damage while also saving time and fuel costs.


Reliable Accuracy at All-Hours

In early Spring, Mr Clappinson regularly works into the early hours, and can expect to rack up 110-120 hours per week. NextSwath offers the ability for him to keep working when he needs to with confidence that he can work tight to the hedge and field boundaries.

“It’s so consistent with the turns. It’s beyond belief, the best GPS system I’ve used and it’s just so easy to use”, he explains.

Prior to using the GFX-750 display system with CenterPoint RTX, Mr Clappinson relied on RTK, working on a mix of fixed and mobile bases.

“I’m so impressed with RTX, it’s just as good as RTK and not having to set up mobile-bases and change between fixed base stations saves time. The GFX converges on the way to the field in less than two minutes. If I leave the field overnight the line is exactly where I left it the day after.” says Mr Clappison.

Learn More About the GFX-750 display system

Whether you’re thinking about upgrading an older tractor or taking your operation to the next level, contact us to find out more.


Article supplied by Trimble Agriculture

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