Bad Weather Favors Auto-Steer

A number of no-tillers may have enjoyed extra benefits during this fall’s tough harvest season by having auto-guidance installed on the combine. As a number of Chippewa County, Minn., growers learned after a severe windstorm in 2008, auto-guidance is a tremendous asset when dealing with twisted and tangled corn.

Tim Radermacher says these Minnesota growers quickly learned that trying to harvest down corn without auto-guidance was time consuming, energy inefficient and extremely stressful to the combine operator.

The major problem without auto-guidance was trying to stay directly on the rows, says Radermacher, a farm business management instructor for Minnesota West Community and Technology College in Granite Falls and Montevideo, Minn.

Once the operator steered off the rows, the combine missed some corn and the operator had to steer back over the row. This resulted in either leaving unharvested corn in the field or having to back up the combine to get the unharvested corn.

With an RTK guidance system, Radermacher says the operator only needed to get the corn head on the correct rows at the start of each pass and let the unit steer the combine to the other end of the field without stopping. Setting the combine for auto-guidance was no problem since auto-steer had been used on the tractors the previous spring while planting the corn crop.

Impressive Results 

Radermacher says growers with auto-guidance harvested an average of 120 acres of downed corn per day. This compared to only 80 acres of tangled corn harvested daily by…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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