As a fourth generation farmer, our family knows the value of hard work and what it takes to keep a farm in business in good times and bad. Growing up on Euchre Creek Farm, and now raising my daughter there, it has been great to be a part of the growth and change we have seen from integrating precision and autosteer on the farm.
When we started hands-free farming in 2010, my dad was skeptical, like a lot of folks from his generation. He believed that the benefit of autosteer would never outweigh the expense. I actually got an Outback Guidance autosteering system on the farm by “surprising” him with it; I knew that if I could show him the value it would bring to our farm he would be sold. (Keep reading to learn how much value it brought us in just our first season.)
I had just joined Outback Guidance as a field technician, and I was learning new things about the technology every day. I was excited to hear about all the features that could really help us on our farm. Euchre Creek Farm is about 1500 acres, our equipment isn’t new and the ground we farm is far from flat or straight. We have to navigate terraces, hills, waterways, tiles, rocks and trees.
When I learned about contour and detour I knew it was exactly what we needed. The contour feature of Outback autosteer allows us to create contoured paths along the waterway or tree line and maintain that line across the field. The detour feature lets us flag the rocks, trees and other hazards in our field to avoid them, allowing us to stay on track without misses or overlap.
I was also hearing the benefits of autosteering both in and out of the tractor cab. During spring planting, we run until the weather keeps us from running or we are done—whichever comes first. Watching markers and planting into the night after working a full-time job all day, was exhausting, and resulted in overlaps and skips. Aside from being tired, it was hard to see the markers after the sun went down. One of the first advantages we noticed was that the Outback Guidance system doesn’t care if the sun is up or down it still steers you along your lines!
The day after I installed the Outback Guidance autosteering solution on our ‘91 Case, we started fertilizing. This is where the surprise comes in: Dad and I were in the field when I told him to watch the line on our new terminal. After we ran our boundary and made the turn at the end of the field, I told him to push the engage button and autosteer took over and precisely guided the tractor along the contours I had set.
That was a proud moment when I knew autosteer was going to make working the field a lot better for Dad. In less than eight hours, Dad knew it too when he called to say that we needed to get another system for the planting tractor!
Today, we can’t imagine farming without an autosteer system on Euchre Creek Farm. The precision of the autosteer gives me the confidence that our acres are precisely planted and we are utilizing every square inch of topsoil. I don’t worry about skips or overlaps, and in the fall, it has taken the guesswork and time out of working ground.