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More sections ahead

For farmers who have invested in automated steering and guidance systems, swath control systems for planters and sprayers often rise to the top of their wish lists. Manufacturers of swath-control devices say they have been doing a brisk business as farmers and custom applicators extend the value of their guidance systems.

“It's huge. It has really caught on quickly,” says Roger Zielke, new business development manager for Ag Leader Technology, which manufactures swath-control devices for planters and sprayers.

Initially, sprayer customers are eager to add automated section control to handle the three to five sections typically plumbed on a production sprayer, says Paul Welbig, business development manager for Raven Industries. In the future, customers are likely to want to add more sections as the economics of being able to control smaller groups of nozzles become clearer.

“With the advent of GPS and automated shutoffs, the awareness of savings is growing,” Welbig says. “If you see savings at three or five or seven sections, what would individual nozzle control mean? Ultimately this leads down the path of controlling every nozzle.”

Today, controllers aren't available to handle the individual nozzles on longer booms. But that is likely to change in the next year or two as controller manufacturers respond to increased customer demand.

“There is no doubt that we will be able to meet the challenge,” Welbig says.

Already, the budding market for swath control of planters is resulting in options to control more planter sections. AgLeader recently announced that its SeedCommand system now can control a maximum of 36 sections, up from 12 in 2007. And Trimble has added 24-section planter control capability, up from 10 last year.

Here is a look at section control options available on the market for 2008.

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