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Serving: IN

New Ways to Use GPS Never Cease to Amaze

Farmers appreciate newer units and lower prices too.

Ask a farmer how he seeded clover into his pasture field, and you expect to hear him talk about walking it on with a hand-powered crank seeder. Or at least that used to be the method. Today it might be more likely to hear him talk about spreading with a spreader mounted on a four-wheeler or a small tractor. But what you don't expect to learn here is that he used a GPS-type technology to get the job done.

"Using a lightbar really helps us be more accurate, especially in pastures," says Bob Brewington, Versailles. "We also use GPS for spraying and other things. But we've found it cuts down on guesswork and helps you do a better job of seeding too."

What Brewington does is use the lightbar to guide him as he frost-seeds legumes or even grasses into existing pastures. Since the rolling pastures are often odd-shaped, with creeks and wooded areas, it can be difficult to tell where you've been without some sort of guidance system. He's finding that GPS does the job for him.

One method old-timers used was to frost-seed while there was snow on the ground so they could tell where their tracks were from previous passes, notes Duane Drockelman, coordinator of South Laughery Creek Watershed. He works in Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties in southeast Indiana.

The problem with the snow application method, Drockelman says, is that you risk losing more seed or having it wash off where it is supposed to be when the snow melts. GPS technology is certainly more glamorous than waiting for snow, and in this case, it's quite likely more efficient and cost-effective as well.

Changes in GPS receivers and lightbars since they first appeared on the market are also making them moiré user-friendly. And even some lightbars now offer a feature that allows the unit to fill in areas that have been seeded or sprayed on the screen, so you know where you've been.

One big difference is the price. Brewington says he recently traded up to a newer lightbar, and paid about half what his first unit cost several years ago. Just like computers and TV sets before them, once technology becomes more widely adopted and improvements are made, it actually becomes cheaper. He's happy with the performance he's getting from his recent purchase, even when he uses it in the pasture field- not exactly a high-tech crop or a high-tech environment.

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