Although Technically a mid-2008 introduction, John Deere's AutoTrac RowSense corn-head-based steering system will be a new option for many growers in 2009. RowSense uses a pair of curved steel feelers mounted on opposing snouts to help guide Deere combines outfitted with integrated AutoTrac assisted-steering systems.

The field-installed option is available for AutoTrac-equipped 50, 60 or 70 series Deere combines with 90 or 600 series corn heads.

The two feelers are attached to potentiometers (variable resistors similar to rheostats) that relay signals to automatically adjust the GPS-based AutoTrac system to follow the row. When crossing a grass waterway, the GPS signal takes over completely as the mechanical signal temporarily disappears.

RowSense addresses the reality that tractor guidance data generated at planting, and reused at harvest, do not account for planter drift.

RowSense has a two-tiered pricing structure, based on guidance signal accuracy. For growers with SF1 signals, the list price for RowSense hardware and software is $5,995. The list price for producers using more accurate, higher-priced SF2 signals is $2,995.

Deere also introduces three lower-cost guidance products for growers looking for basic features or for those just getting started in precision agriculture.

The GreenStar 2 1800 has a 7-in. display (versus 10.4 in. on the GreenStar 2 2600 display) with buttons and a scroll wheel instead of touch-screen technology. The ISO-compatible display has a stripped-down feature set: automated guidance, an on-screen map and section control.

“This is for customers who tell us they just want automatic guidance, a screen map and swath control,” says Kyle Collins, with Deere. The list price for the 1800 display is $1,695. Availability will be limited prior to 2009 planting.

Deere designed its new GreenStar lightbar, its first-ever lightbar, to lure precision-ag latecomers into Deere dealerships. The list price for the lightbar and Deere's new StarFire 300 single-frequency WAAS receiver is $1,400. Alone, the receiver lists for $995.

Contact your local John Deere dealer, visit www.johndeere.com/ag or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 108.