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Technology in Agriculture, Simplified

AMS Questions For April 16-22


Finally got a little rain and a chance to get this written, so I’m combining the last couple of weeks here.
Thanks for reading and here’s your AMS Questions for April 16-28.

Guidance & GPS

Q: My AutoTrac on my planter or drill tractor has little wiggles in it or acts strange.
A: There are some ground conditions having a profound effect on guidance we’re seeing this week. Soft, dry, even powdery conditions (especially for conventional tillage practices) are making steering a little more difficult than normal. One tip is to make sure your front wheel assist is turned on, if the vehicle is so equipped. Having MFWD on can have a profound effect on guidance performance because the vehicle is able to acquire the correct position much more quickly while keeping over-reaction to a minimum. Another way to compensate for different ground conditions is using Advanced AutoTrac settings. If you have an ATU on your vehicle you already have these settings, or if your vehicle has an integrated valve you can see if these settings are available by going to Menu -> GS2/3 -> Guidance -> Guidance Settings tab -> Advanced AutoTrac Settings. Advanced AutoTrac Settings is only supported on certain integrated vehicles, check with your dealer for a possible software update to enable them or see if they’re available if the button isn’t showing.

There was a good sized Geomagnetic event last week that really disrupted some things in the middle of the week (as evidenced by this thread on New Ag Talk forums). Some were affected more than others, and unfortunately there’s not much any of us can do about it other than let nature run its course. The NOAA / NWS has a Space Weather Prediction Center website with lots of information regarding current conditions affecting GPS signals. The satellite environment plot is good to watch for current conditions and the Alerts and Warning page is good for forecasts as well. When the Geomatic sudden impulse gets to G1 or higher expect issues.

Another situation we ran into this week is receivers somehow reverting to the old Starfire Frequency. Even if you updated your software earlier this year, check out my earlier post on setting the frequency change. I’ve been recommending operators go into Menu -> Starfire -> Setup tab, then uncheck Defualt and enter 1539.8725 in the white box. If your receiver for some reason decides to switch to the old signal it may go to WAAS (and thus not run allow AutoTrac to run) or in a rare case I saw myself, run somehow without differential correction at the vehicle and have very poor guess rows. Just change it and be done with it.

Product Application & Documentation / Display

Q: I’m having trouble with my Tank Mixes changing
A: Tank mixes are setup in Apex, the only one you can modify on the screen is the Custom tank mix

Q: My touchscreen display highlights items on the screen in Red, Blue or Green
A: No worries, this is for running the display with the buttons on the back or the remote. If you have a R series tractor or S series combine that doesn’t have a touchscreen, or an 1800 display, this is the same highlighting effect as scrolling through different items. The Red, Blue or Green is generally the last item pressed.

Remember to be trying to document field work as best as possible, its always better to have a map and not need it than not have a map and need it.


Talked to a couple of customers the past two weeks that had difficulty saving prescriptions to their card. First, make sure your software is up to date. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet, then, while in Apex, go to Help on the upper portion of your screen and click Automatically Check for Apex Updates. Click next, yes, etc. and proceed through the steps. Do this until Apex says its fully up to date. If the update doesn’t want to run check out this answer center solution. Next, go the Save to Card in Apex. Make sure Prescription is checked in the Save to Card Filter, then go through the check boxes Enterprise, etc. below. Watch the grey box on the right for the list of items that will be saved to the card.

Averaging yield maps together: Apex can average multiple years of yield maps together using the composite maps function. Open all the different yield maps you want to average together and click the Composite maps button (looks like two pages) at the bottom left hand of your screen. This can be useful to see different zones throughout the field while minimizing year to year variability. I have several customers that write prescriptions based on these zones.

SeedStar 2 / Planter Questions

Reminders on downforce / margin for 2011 and 2012 planter operators : If you have downforce on the screen you are setting lbs of downforce or margin, not PSI like the old systems with manual gauges. Margin is defined as the difference between the total lbs of downforce the planter is putting down and the lbs the earth is pushing back up. Margin is measured at the gauge wheels, too much of it and you’ll have sidewall compaction (or big ridges in this year’s dry soils), too little of it can lead to inconsistent depth. Margin and downforce can be really confusing, but Deere’s ReadyToPlant.com has several good videos that can help. Remember if you have the Active Pnematic Downforce system you’ll be setting Margin when it’s turned on, if not (or if Active PDF is turned off) you’ll be setting the lbs of downforce in the air bags.


As always the disclaimer on the about page applies. Questions and comments welcome in the comments section below, on Twitter @AaronBobeck, or my email is on my about page.

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