THE SWATH-CONTROL product bonanza that began with planter row shutoffs and spray boom section control continues to expand. The newest offerings include planter control systems that turn multiple products on and off, multiplying the potential for input cost savings beyond seed to starter fertilizer and other crop inputs. The most sophisticated systems add variable-rate capabilities to the mix, bringing precision agriculture's holy grail — the ability to apply prescribed amounts of crop inputs down to the square foot — closer to reality.

Companies with major new offerings for 2010 include Trimble, Dickey-john and Ag Leader. Also new this year: John Deere adds 10-section anhydrous ammonia swath control to the approved uses for its Swath Control Pro system. Hemisphere GPS's Outback AutoMate system now offers eight-section planter control, in addition to 10-section boom control. And as expected, Ag Leader now offers SeedCommand and DirectCommand swath-control capabilities on its new Integra monitor.

Trimble's options

THE FIELD-IQ system includes control software embedded in the FMX/FM1000 and EZ-Guide 500 monitors, as well as hardware components. It controls up to 48-row shutoff sections for seed and fertilizer. It also drives variable-rate capabilities for a single product.

Hardware options include Tru Count clutches (including a new Tru Count Meter Mount air clutch), LiquiBlock valves for turning row fertilizer on and off, Rawson Par 2 hydraulic drives for variable-rate planting and fertilizer application, and GreenSeeker sensors for on-the-go optical crop sensing and variable-rate application.

“Field-IQ is fully integrated using all Trimble components, which simplifies setup and operation,” says Jack Gerhardt, sales manager for Trimble's flow application and control unit. Field-IQ capabilities currently are keyed to planters, strip-till rigs and dry spreaders.

The new Tru Count Meter Mount air clutch mounts on the seed meter drive shaft. This cuts installation time to about 5 min./unit, compared to about 30 min. for the original Tru Count air clutch, which mounts on the main drive shaft (and will still be offered). Meter Mount clutches are available for John Deere MaxEmerge, MaxEmerge Plus and MaxEmerge 2 planters, as well as Case IH Early Riser and Kinze Evolution row units.

The LiquiBlock valves, which are pneumatic, add on/off control of liquid starter fertilizers via a T fitting in air clutch lines.

The list price for Field-IQ cab and implement kits starts at about $1,600. The list price for a Field-IQ ready Tru Count Meter Mount air clutch kit for a 16-row planter is $8,195. A LiquiBlock kit for the planter lists at $780.

The Tru Application Control system, which is available only on the FMX/FM1000 display, is designed for more sophisticated planting systems. Combining technologies from Trimble and Dickey-john, it controls up to 24 shutoff sections. In addition to driving variable-rate applications of up to four products, it offers additional monitoring capability, including seed monitoring, hopper levels and air pressure readings.

The list price for a Tru Application Control cab kit, master module and cabling starts at around $2,200. The estimated list price for a 24-row planter equipped with Field-IQ or Tru Application Control with two hydraulic drives for variable-rate planting, 24 Tru Count Meter Mount clutches, control modules and accessories is $19,000 to $20,500, depending on the planter model. For both systems, the cost of required displays is additional.

Contact Trimble Navigation Ltd., Agriculture Business Area, Dept. FIN, 9290 Bond St., Suite 102, Overland Park, KS 66214, 800/874-6253, visit www.trimble.com/agriculture or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 119.

Dickey-john's auto control

THE AUTO SECTION Control package from Dickey-john features a dedicated color terminal that displays field coverage maps for a real-time view of the planting operation. This allows the IntelliAg monitor to display seed-monitoring and application-rate information without disruption.

The swath-control monitor includes a manual override feature in the event of a lost GPS signal. GPS latency and run-in and run-out overlap settings can be customized to turn row sections on and off at the precise time the planter enters and exits a previously seeded area or headland.

The system is compatible with Tru Count pneumatic clutches, as well as other row clutches, depending on electrical current requirements. Other swath-control capabilities, including sprayer boom section control, will be added in the future, says Pat Fuchs of Dickey-john.

The company developed the Auto Section Control module, which controls up to 24 sections, in conjunction with Harrison Ag Technologies.

The list price for the Dickey-john Auto Section Control is $2,141. Contact Dickey-john, Dept. FIN, 5200 Dickey John Rd., Auburn, IL 62615, 800/637-2952, visit www.dickey-john.com or www.freeproductinfo/net/fin, or circle 120.

Ag Leader's SureVac

SUREVAC JOINS the SureStop electric row clutch for chain-drive planters, introduced by Ag Leader in 2009.

The SureVac shutoffs are designed for John Deere Pro-Series XP row units. They also are compatible with any John Deere vacuum seed meter manufactured in the last 20 years, as well as the eSet vacuum disc from Precision Planting.

SureVac stops seed flow by cutting off the vacuum at the top of the seed disc. Planting is stopped and seeds fall back into the seed meter's seed pool. When the shutoff device is pulled away from the seed disc, vacuum is restored and planting continues as normal. Installation, which takes about 5 min./row, requires removing the manufacturer vacuum cover and replacing it with SureVac.

Availability of SureVac will be limited in 2010. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $270/row. Contact Ag Leader Technology, Dept. FIN, Box 2348, Ames IA 50010, 515/232-5363, visit www.agleader.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 121.

Variable-rate irrigation

VALLEY IRRIGATION has added a variable-rate irrigation option to its lineup. The new technology, Farmscan Variable Rate Irrigation, is the first to be offered by a major irrigation equipment manufacturer in the U.S., according Jake LaRue, Valley product manager.

Farmscan uses section- control technologies similar to those offered on agricultural sprayers, although applied to center-pivot booms that typically are 1,300 ft. long. The system can turn up to 48 nozzle zones off and on.

“This technology allows producers to control how much water, fertilizer and other crop management products are applied to areas as small as one square meter,” LaRue says. Uses will include turning water off over drainage ditches, coping with water restrictions and making variable-rate fertilizer and crop protection chemical applications based on productivity zones.

Farmscan is marketed under an agreement with Computronics Holdings Ltd., its developer and manufacturer. Contact Valley Irrigation, Dept. FIN, Box 358, Valley, NE 68064, 402/359-2201, visit www.valleyirrigation.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 122.