Better Farming |December 2023

16 The Business of Ontario Agriculture Better Farming | December 2023 Guidance Systems Guidance systems have become commonplace on Ontario farms as precision agriculture technologies grow in popularity. Various available features and accuracy levels mean farmers can choose a guidance system that best suits their operation’s needs. “Guidance systems can be useful for everything from fertilizer application straight through to planting, tillage, and hay,” says Jordan Wallace, sales and advanced solutions technician at GPS Ontario. “A guidance system is meant to make it easier to farm, not make it harder to farm. Every farm will benefit from a guidance system regardless of how large or small. There are many different levels of guidance systems.” Kendal Quandahl, manager of the Case IH Precision Field Team, says that there are a few ways these systems help producers. “Guidance is something that can be introduced at any point in time in an operation and has benefits,” says Quandahl. “It can reduce inputs by avoiding overlaps and helps producers make better use of land. It also helps minimize operator stress and fatigue. If you are steering the tractor, controlling the implement all day long – 12, 14, maybe 16 hours a day – you get tired. And when you get tired, we all get a little less efficient.” For producers looking to take advantage of these benefits, there are a lot of choices to be made in selecting the right system for an operation. What’s available? Rapidly changing technology and an abundance of options can complicate the search for a new guidance system. Wallace explains that guidance systems can range from basic monitors to full steering systems. “At your basic entry level, you’re going to have your light bar and mapping systems where the operator is given a coloured map or set of lights to follow that guides them for manual steering,” says Wallace. “The next step up is an electric motor added to the side of the steering wheel or a replacement steering wheel, and it physically turns the steering wheel for the operator. The next level is automated steering systems, which are hydraulically plumbed into most newer tractors. This is faster responding and has smoother steering.” Case IH offers two categories of guidance systems. “The first guidance system type we offer are hydraulic guidance systems. These come with all the equipment to steer the tractor built into equipment. In many cases, it is standard equipment from the factory now,” says Quandahl. “We also have options through our CNH Industrial parts that would allow a customer to upgrade older equipment or equipment that didn’t come with it from the factory. It gives producers the option to add a display and CASE IH photo ‘IT CAN BE INTRODUCED AT ANY POINT IN TIME IN AN OPERATION & HAS BENEFITS.’ CHOOSING A GUIDANCE SYSTEM By EMILY CROFT