Dave Phegley, Merom. wasn't sure he really needed to be using auto-steering when combining soybeans. But when he traded combines a few years ago and it was equipped with auto-steering, he began using it. Now he's sold on it as a way to help him stay fresher and be more effective all day long.
Like many his age, he suffers from arthritis, especially in his hands.
Gripping the steering wheel all day long could really make them hurt sometimes," he says. "Now I don't have to do that, and I don't have as much pain in my hands.
"I don't feel as tired at night after running the combine all day as I did before when I was steering myself."
A buzzer goes off to remind him when he is nearing the end. In his machine it's an odd sound that would be hard not to hear, even if you were tired. It signals him to take control and turn on the ends, before turning guidance back over to the machine itself.
One thing auto-steering in the combine does is give him more time to monitor what else is going on. Other farmers have noted that with all the monitors in the cab, it's hard to drive and pay attention to the monitors at the same time. Letting it guide itself allows more time for evaluating the machine's performance.
His unit runs on WAAS, a free differential correction signal. If it drifts just a bit, he can nudge the combine one way or the other slightly, so he isn't missing beans on the outside, or leaving too much empty space on the other side of the header. It allows him to be more efficient in utilizing the capacity of the combine on each pass through the field.