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New from Deere: Improved GPS signal aids AutoTrac auto steering

As precision guidance continues to help growers lower input costs, save fuel and reduce passes in a field, John Deere continues to build greater accuracy into its software to bring more value into its equipment.

A free upgrade on the John Deere StarFire iTC receiver gives growers two benefits: a sub-inch repeatable Long Range RTK signal 12 miles from the base station (expanded from 6 miles), plus Shading Optimization so AutoTrac won’t drop a signal if some trees or other obstructions cause momentary line-of-sight loss between vehicle and base station antenna.

“Precision guidance technology continues to improve with better software to allow greater accuracy in variable field conditions,” says Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager, John Deere AMS. Real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS positioning, with the help of a base station, delivers repeatable accuracy pass after pass within 1 in. or less of the previous pass last fall or two years ago.

“One good example,” Reynolds says, “is growers who strip-till in the fall while applying fertilizer, then they come back in the spring and plant exactly on top the fertilizer band — all without steering when they use AutoTrac and RTK guidance. Growers don’t need a visual reference anymore; they simply pull in the field and push a button to get back in those same strips.”

As more dealers, growers and networking groups set up base stations on towers, a greater coverage area for the necessary line-of-sight signal between vehicle and base station is achieved. “If a grower operates on a Long Range RTK signal beyond 12 miles, he still may get a signal, but we can’t guarantee 1-in. accuracy that is repeatable year after year,” Reynolds says.

“We’ve also developed Shading Optimization software for our AutoTrac SF1 and SF2 systems,” Reynolds says. “Barriers such as trees, buildings or other structures are a problem for all guidance systems because they disrupt the satellite signal to the vehicle, especially during headland turns. Shading Optimization allows AutoTrac to stay enabled when moving through areas with trees and windbreaks.”

Before this upgrade, if the receiver did not have a stable signal from both L1 and L2 bands, the grower needed to steer manually. With Shading Optimization, the vehicle will continue to AutoTrac on only an L1 band signal, adding more consistency and accuracy.

Contact your John Deere dealer today for more information.

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