Technology Moving Straight Ahead

Last weeks post came to you live from the tractor, which I think just goes to show how far technology has come to allow me to write a post and publish it on the Internet with pictures all while sitting in the seat of a working tractor in the field. While that shows the power of the smart phone, how was I keeping the rows straight? With most of my attention focused on writing the post the rows must be wonky, but they weren’t, why?

The GPS Will Kept The Tractor Running Straight Night Or Day

The GPS Will Kept The Tractor Running Straight Night Or Day

Well firstly I didn’t put the rows in I was on the roller so the rows were already there, secondly I wasn’t driving. So who was driving? Well the tractor was, via the GPS. During normal work in the field the tractor steers itself using the GPS system, multiple satellites work in conjunction with a ground station which has a fixed location to work out the exact location of the tractor in the field and where it should be in order to keep a straight line. The GPS computer then tells the tractors steering system which way to turn and by how much so it can keep a straight line or at least with in two centimetres of it which is more accurate than any operator can drive. How ever a operator is still needed to turn the tractor around at the end of the row as well as monitor temperatures, pressures, levels and the such. So where to from here?

The Green Star Unit Is What Keeps A John Deere Running Straight

The Green Star Unit Is What Keeps A John Deere Running Straight

Well in an exciting development coming out the USA we may soon have fully automated tractors that not only keep straight but turn around as well thanks to the development of the Spirit Autonomous Tractor, while it may look like a German WWI tank minus the guns it is jammed packed full of the latest technology and doesn’t even have a cab or need operator. This diesel-electric tractor is fully autonomous with only one controller needed to control up to 16 tractors with in a 40km radius, you can even have multiple tractors working the same field. While these machines are not in the production stage yet there are working prototypes. While this technology is promising and shows great potential I do have some questions about it, how well can it dodge an obstacle like a tree or power pole with the twelve row rig it could be potentially taking to the field? And how well can the controller identify a problem such as a broken pin on the rig or a the rig clogging up with trash from his control room? I guess only time will tell and I’ll be very excited to see a working model in Australia hopefully very soon.

 

The Future?

The Future?

 

Thanks for reading and as always please feel free to leave your comments or questions in the comment section below.

 

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Its A Bit Wet

Well its not flooding in Moree but its still very very wet and its making it a bit tricky to get around the farm or just get any where, including up the driveway where I had water go over the bonnet of my Holden ute (water wasn’t moving only risk was electronics failure and a short walk in the rain). By around lunch time today we’d had 100 millimetres of rain and counting but it seems to have stopped now, worried that it might keep raining and cut the road I made the mistake of going out to the farm to drop in my time sheet and then decided to stick around and take a few photos.  Three hours later I was still there.

I was tagging along with manager and the other two fellas who had came into work, water was backing up into the cotton fields and had to be moved quickly to stop water logging. It is a challenge that is a lot easier said then done as the backing up water wasn’t just from the rain falling on the fields and the farm but it was also from the water that was rushing across from the neighbouring property. Even with pumps going at full pace and the gates fully open water was still managing to run over the drop boxes and blow out some channels. The majority of gates are hand operated but some need a hydraulic pump that it run off the ute’s gear box, its a great help for opening some of the real big gates on the property. The water also made it a real challenge to get around.

Just going up the driveway was a big enough challenge with the mud and the neighbours run off giving my commodore a bit of trouble (again there was no danger even though it was fast flowing water it wasn’t deep and the only risk was getting bogged and a awkward phone call), but the commodore powered through and made it to the shed. When I got the shed I got it the old 1996 Toyota Hilux, its an old thing and really battled in spots to get through when the speedo was reading a very optimistic 30 kmph, the engine revving over 4000 rpm, steam coming off the bonnet and more smoke coming out the exhaust then a steam engine. We didn’t get bogged but there where a few close calls and we got very close to the edge of some channels at various times.

We eventually got all the gates set up and water was starting to drain, so as soon as we were back at the shed I jumped soaking wet into my ute and heading straight out the gate. With over 100 millimetres of rain we’ll be able to skip an irrigation so I’ll have a bit of spare time on my hands, I got a fair bit of video footage so I’ll probably try and put them together into some sort of video.

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Getting Home

I’ve made it back in near record time travelling the 3000km in under 46 hours, the trip took me through a wide range of terrain from the thick hedge wood around Daly Waters to the low scrub of the Barkly(were fires still burned amongst all the storms) and the open nothingness of Queensland channel country, fortunately the kangaroos weren’t too bad with Mitchell to St George being the only bad section (it took me three hours to travel that stretch I guess its a record of sorts).  I think it’d be better to take the trip slower over about a week so I’d have more time to check out the sights such as the QANTAS Museum, Stockman’s Hall Of Fame and the many pubs along the way such as Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay.

After arriving home it was a quick trip down the coast for Christmas I’m back in Moree and starting work again irrigating on a cotton farm just outside of town, first shift is New Years Eve night. The blog will soon be redesigned to make it more relevant to life on a cotton farm but information from life at the station will still be available.

So stay tuned

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Cleaning Up

Its been a busy two days on Humbert with an early start yesterday heading into town to pick up supplies and parts so the station will be stocked up over the wet. And with the wet season quickly approaching we’re hurrying to clean up all the little jobs that we have left, so this morning it was all go moving cattle lick to sheds at the old outstation and cleaning up the remains of the old quarters that were burnt last week. Just to make things interesting this afternoon the loader that was cleaning out the turkey nest getting bogged axle deep, but the grader was soon on site and the loader was pulled out. Who knows what the next few days will bring. 

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Rough Roads

It was a good night at Top Springs for the Melbourne Cup but the 300km return journey came at a price, the dirt roads up here take a hefty toll on vehicles of all sorts but road cars like my Holden Commodore ute take the biggest beating. In hindsight it was a bad choice but when I bought it, it seemed like a great idea as it was cheaper and more fuel efficient then a four wheel drive and are pleasant to drive. But nine months, one rim, $800 worth of tires, a center bearing and more later the decision to buy a road car over a four wheel drive is starting to add up, and that’s not the end in the photos below you can see the dent in the muffler caused by a rock, the wires from where the trailer lights socket has been removed by rocks and the large dent from where a wallaby decided to headbutt the side of my ute. So if your coming to work on a station spent the extra on a four wheel drive with that clearance and save later on. 

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Bores, Belts and Broken Pipes

The last left truck the station this morning meaning second round has come to an end and it’ll be back to station life as normal, today’s bore run proved to be more interesting than normal with one bore having broken belts, another threw both belts without explanation, thankfully they both seem to be running fine with the belt replaced. At another bore the pipe was blown and in need of a hasty repair before the turkey nest lost any more water.

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