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Serving: IA

Steering Update: More Work Done as Weather Clears

Farmers talk about their first-time use of precision steering and how it's working for 2009.

Planting season has been going full- or half-tilt for what seems like weeks now, with weather delays and other issues popping up. We have two producers - one near Bourbon, Ind., and another near Palermo, N.D., using lightbars for precision steering for the first time this year.

We've been updating you on the Glingles in Indiana and the latest word from son, Shaun, is that his father Randy likes the rig for tillage. It's an especially handy tool on two-pass tillage operations because "the light bar works great to see where you're going because it is hard to do on the second pass across," says Shaun.

For the Glingles, rain has been a big challenge in their part of northern Indiana, but we're happy to report that if the weather held, the Glingles should be finished planting soybeans this week.

Meanwhile, over in North Dakota, Craig Wienbar is firing up his lightbar for the first time. This veteran custom harvester knows he's got an overlap problem, and hopes the new Greenstar Lightbar combined with the StarFire 300 GPS receiver do the trick.

Getting details from Craig during the busy season is a challenge, but this quick quote from a recent e-mail should sum it up: "Things are starting to dry out...light bar is working very good easy to learn and to hook up. Busy now have to go, tally ho!!!!"

Given that enthusiasm, we're confident Craig will make up for lost time with his setup. And we'll check back with him again in a couple weeks.

Lightbar sales are new for John Deere, given that the company introduced its first one this year; however field response has been good and sales have been solid for the new product, according to anecdotal reports. This product segment in the ag industry as a whole remains strong as more farmers find there's value to getting some precision input when steering.

Of course, for those of you out there who think "real" farmers have to keep their hands on the wheel, the lightbar is a good start. Later you may learn that a hands-off approach to steering (with a more advanced system) could reduce field fatigue, get you more productive hours in the cab and give you a solid return on your investment. More farmers than ever are looking at precision guidance, and auto-guidance is gaining in popularity.

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