Precision ag gadgets just keep getting more interesting. Here's one that lets you drive your tractor and feel like a fighter pilot, all while being more efficient and productive.

Developed by Canada-based Terradox Corporation, the SiteWinder GPS guidance system uses “synthetic vision” to create a 3-D world on screen that combines visual data over the top of landscape imagery. The technology is similar to that used in airplane cockpit display systems in modern military and commercial aircraft.

Visual input

For agriculture on the ground, the SiteWinder GPS guidance system gives you the ability to see visible landscape features along with otherwise “invisible” information, such as previously sprayed areas, navigation guides, and areas prone to weed pressure. The effect is something like playing a farming video game with X-ray vision.

You can mark rocks, weeds, wet areas or gates on 3-D field maps. Later, you can quickly navigate back to these items by “riding on a lighthouse beam,” which appears as a bright line painted down the middle of the screen. The system has been designed for easy transfer between vehicles.

Ease of use

As with a lightbar guidance system, you steer a tractor, sprayer or other machine according to markings on the screen. SiteWinder uses a full-color touch screen to show your position in the synthetic vision as well as a map view, which permits guidance along both curved and straight lines or combinations of the two.

Three-dimensional imagery shows where you are, where you are going and where you have been, all in real time. It also records all this for later replay, at the office or in the field on the next visit. To borrow from military jargon, an operator with SiteWinder acquires complete situational awareness. In practical terms, that means a more accurate job and better management tools to do the job faster, even at night or in bad weather. You don't have to be a computer geek either. The touch screen is easy to use and understand.

Accuracy

The accuracy of this system depends on several factors, such as the GPS receiver used, the differential source, satellite geometry and antenna mounting. When used with a submeter class DGPS receiver, SiteWinder will provide accuracy better than 3 ft. 95% of the time. In real-life use, SiteWinder provides wheel track repeatability. SiteWinder also can work with RTK GPS receivers down to 1-in. accuracy.

Maps and training

The system is equipped with a USB DataStik to transfer field data to the office. OfficeMap software allows you to view and print field job reports and maps, including as-applied maps and export data. With the OfficePro software program, you can configure entire field jobs, including machine setup, in the comfort of the office. The setup is then transferred to the vehicle via the DataStik, and the job is executed efficiently in the field.

The OfficePro package also includes a simulator, which, when combined with a video-game steering wheel, provides realistic driver training in the office, without actually burning diesel or using chemicals. To try out the simulator program online, visit www.terradox.com.

Price of the SiteWinder starts at $4,995. For more information, contact Terradox Corp., 121 3553-31 St. N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2L 2K7, Canada, 402/260-5242.