Although the automated steering system – named IntelliSteer – isn’t totally hands-free (the operator must still make end-row turns), it eliminates the need to steer when the tractor is being operated in straight lines in open fields. The automated steering system eliminates human error, such as overlapping and skipping, which can lead to under or over application of pesticides, fertilizers and seed.

“Auto-steering technology can have a major effect on a farm’s return on investment,” says Roger Lewno, product training manager for New Holland TJ and TG tractors. “Because of the accuracy, farmers who use this technology can realize significant savings on variable costs, including labor, fuel, seed, fertilizer, pesticides, and machine depreciation while increasing yields and field productivity.”

Another benefit, says Lewno, is less strain and fatigue on the operator. "With steering accuracy taken care of, the operator can concentrate on why he or she is in the field. Whether disking, tilling, ripping, spraying or planting, an operator can make sure the implement is doing what it's supposed to do, instead of concentrating on trying to drive straight and accurately. The system will take care of the steering accuracy, and the operator can focus more attention on the implement function."

Lewno adds that automated steering also makes it easier to implement controlled traffic patterns in fields, which reduces soil compaction and often increases yield.

New Holland’s IntelliSteer Auto-Steering System is capable of automatically steering a tractor with a high degree of accuracy. Like all tractor auto-steering systems, it is dependent on GPS technology. The system continuously receives GPS satellite signals and employs satellite or base station correction signals to improve accuracy. The auto-steering system uses GPS position data as the primary input, with secondary input provided from a steering sensor in the front axle.

Depending on the level of accuracy required, two levels of precision are available. The High Performance Differential GPS System relies on a leased satellite correction signal to provide accuracy typically in the +/- 4-inch range.

The more precise Real-Time Kinematic Auto-Steering System utilizes a customer-owned base station to provide a correction signal for accuracy normally in the +/- one-inch range.

The IntelliSteer Auto-Steering System was designed specifically for compatibility with New Holland tractors through a joint development venture with Trimble, a leader in GPS auto-steering technology. The system will be available as a dealer-installed accessory for New Holland TG Series and TJ Series four-wheel drive tractors in spring 2004, and as a factory-ready option for TG tractors in fall 2004 and TJ tractors in spring 2005.

New Holland is a brand of CNH, a world leader in agricultural and construction equipment. New Holland sells and services an innovative and diverse line of agricultural equipment, including a full line of agricultural and utility tractors as well as hay and forage equipment, harvesting, crop production and material handling equipment.

For more information on New Holland products, contact your local New Holland dealer or visit the New Holland website at www.newholland.com/na.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com