FARMERS don’t just want access to precision agriculture technologies, they demand it.
With the majority of agriculture machinery coming GPS-ready, access to enabling technologies such as radio networks is vitally important.
O’Connors, one of the largest CaseIH distributors in Australia, are supporting this through continued investment in their RTK reference station network, they said in a company announcement.
Announcing the expansion to the Corowa area, Phil Streeter, group precision agriculture manager for O’Connors said technology is all for nothing without an accurate and reliable radio network to support it.
“The RTK network is the best there is and represents a huge investment by O’Connors, but that outlay means the greatest benefits for our customers,” he said.
O’Connors first invested in base stations across the Wimmera and Mallee area of Victoria ten years ago.
The company now claims 113 base stations across southern cropping districts, with that number set to rise to 130 on the back of the Corowa network.
Mr Streeter said the inclusion of the Corowa region was motivated by customer demand, as was the initial launch of the network.
“The feedback we were getting from customers was they wanted somewhere that served as a one-stop shop,” he said.
“They were saying we want to come in, buy our tractors and purchase our guidance all from the one place, and that place can then service it and look after it for us.”
Mr Streeter said prior to the companies investment many of their customers were forced to purchase their own base stations, as solution he said which was not ideal either financially or logistically.
“You need to know what you’re doing with this technology in order to get the most out of it and have it working at peak efficiency,” he said.
“So that’s where we’re coming from – we specialise in this technology and the network – we install it and we maintain it.
“We realised it was a huge expense for farmers having to invest in their own base stations – we knew there had to be a better way, and there was.”
Mr Streeter said their clients are never more than 15km away from a base, throughout the network.
He also said all bases are fully surveyed, the benefit of this being that map lines won’t move, even if the signal is switched between towers.
Mr Streeter also said their had the highest accuracy available at no more than 2.5cm variation 95% per cent of the time.
Hopetoun and Horsham farmer Stephen Hallam, said he was happy with the service.
“O’Connors have been unreal and that’s what sold us – they sat down with us and outlined what they could do and we haven’t looked back,” he said.
“The reliability of the network is unbelievable and if ever we do have an issue – which I have to say is incredibly rare – Phil’s straight onto it and you’re going again before you know it.
“I’ve got a mate who uses another product and he looks at this one and can’t believe how reliable it is.”
Mr Hallam have set up their planter to 2cm accuracy, which he said had benefits for inter-row sowing.
“We’re putting our seed in the ground a whole lot neater and you see the results in the crop,” he said.