Team FIN member Scott McPheeters put the new Outback S guidance system to the test on his Gothenburg, NE, crop and cattle farm. The new GPS-based system intrigued him because he wanted a GPS receiver that could be moved from one piece of equipment to another. The Outback delivered.
McPheeters was able to install the Outback in less than 15 minutes when he switched the unit between his pickup and tractor. A suction cup fits the unit to a vehicle's windshield.
“One of the first things I liked is the fact that the Outback S is compatible with any vehicle that has 12v power available,” McPheeters says.
The Outback's portability allowed McPheeters to use it for several tasks.
He installed a center pivot irrigation unit on land formerly irrigated by gravity flow, but irrigation pipe is still buried under his fields. McPheeters used the Outback to mark the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. “If I ever want to find the pipe for some reason, I'll know where it is,” he says.
He also used the Outback to measure the 1,369-ft. arc from the well to the outer perimeter of the center pivot. “It was an odd-sized field, so I couldn't use just the quarter-section boundary to measure it,” he explains. He logged a location at the pivot pad site and employed the unit's “return-to-here” function to determine distance to the end of the pivot arc. He then drove the radius by watching the distance on the Outback from the initial logged point.
The Outback helped McPheeters and his neighbor in measuring the neighbor's land. “Using the Outback is a lot faster than dragging tape along,” McPheeters says.
During planting, after he had shut down his planter and tractor for the evening, McPheeters used the Outback to tell him where to begin planting again.
He also thinks the Outback has the potential to reduce spraying costs. “If I sprayed wheat with a large boom and used the Outback to prevent overlap, then it would definitely be worth the cost. It can tell you where you are almost down to the nearest inch,” he says.
McPheeters doesn't spray wheat. But he did use the Outback to spray corn and soybeans fields at night. It helped him find the right rows to drive into without having to count them out in the dark.
This fall, McPheeters installed the Outback in a combine to input the GPS signal to the machine's yield monitor. A connectivity kit offered by RHS, the Outback's manufacturer, allowed the interface with the combine.
Thus far, McPheeters has not mapped his fields. “I've first had to be comfortable in knowing that my yield monitors are working,” he says.
However, inputting coordinates via the Outback is another step toward mapping fields. “I would not buy one for just tracking coordinates and measuring land,” McPheeters says. “But if I can use it to connect to the combines, it would be worth its cost to me. The company has been very supportive and the product has met or exceeded my expectations.”
The Outback lists for $3,990. For more information, contact RHS Inc., 2005 W. Oregon St., Hiawatha, KS 66434, 800/247-3808, www.outbackguidance.com.