If you didn’t jump on the lightbar manual-steering guidance bandwagon early in the decade, fear not. Why?

  • You can now buy assisted-steering technology for the price of an early lightbar system.
  • Or, you can still ease yourself and your wallet into GPS-based steering accuracy by buying an improved lightbar system.

However, if you ask any farmer who has upgraded from a lightbar — which requires you to steer — to hands-free, assisted-steering technology, most will tell you to jump right into assisted steering. Some growers say it is harder to steer via lightbar than watching a planter mark. But perhaps you’re not ready to let go of the wheel yet.

Why buy a lightbar?

  • A lightbar with any GPS signal will improve your driving and quickly pay for itself.
  • It’s a lower-cost initial investment than assisted steering.
  • It’s more reliable and accurate than foam markers, at higher speeds.
  • With an ability to upgrade, it may offer all the features you currently want.
  • You can farm more acres with the same equipment. Purdue research says a 1,800-acre farm could expand to 2,600 acres with the same 12-row planter while maintaining the same planting timeliness.

Why skip the lightbar for assisted steering?

  • You focus on the operation, not the driving, except to turn around (and new Deere technology will handle the turnaround, too).
  • Assisted steering offers greatly reduced stress without the common arm/shoulder/neck aches from steering and looking back and forth.
  • Assisted steering gives greater accuracy, reduced overlap and greater input cost savings compared to a lightbar.
  • Controller technology usually offers more features and add-ons to handle more tasks compared to a lightbar.
  • You can farm even more acres with the same equipment. Purdue research says a 1,800-acre farm could expand to 3,100 acres with the same 12-row planter while maintaining the same planting timeliness.

In his Producer Profile on www.precisionpays.com, grower Russ Lanphair, Sikeston, MO, comments on his switch to a John Deere AutoTrac assisted-steering system. “We had been using lightbars, and they worked, but they really didn’t make it any easier,” he says. “It seemed as though we spent more time watching the lightbar than we did anything else.”

If you’re unsure which technology is best for your operation, check out this link that might help determine the right guidance choice for you.