SHUGTOWN, AR (KAIT) --One of the biggest areas technology has made large advances is in agriculture.
Using GPS to direct farm machinery such as tractors, combines and spray equipment has been in use since the 90's.
The ultimate step up for farmers is using RTK or Real Time Kinematic networks. Position accuracy to the inch or less.
21st Century tractors and their related machinery are large, complicated and, if used correctly, incredibly efficient.
Matt Bishop was planting rice on the Garner Farm outside Shugtown.
"Left side and right side you're putting out 605 thousand seeds on this side and 606 seeds on this side."
Inside the cab with the a/c blowing Matt watches the seeder information and positioning information on the GS2 display panel. Resting on his air ride seat he can do other things besides drive.
"Watch your lines, you can eat, drink your soda pop, anything you need to do for business or anything."
Self steering is not new technology. It is based on GPS information. However, GPS satellites drift, taking ground accuracy off.
RTK networks fix this problem.
David Rawls is the AMS Specialist for Kirk Equipment in Paragould,
"We have a base station with a 180 foot tower and it has two way radios that communicate between that tractor and the tower and that tower knows it's location. So it adjusts for the GPS and sends a signal out on the radio to tell the tractor what correction it needs to run."
By knowing exactly where it is all the time the tractor or sprayer or whatever can cut down on waste and fuel use and increase overall productivity.
Aaron Garner was out cutting half-mile straight levy's using the RTK mounted on his tractor.
"Makes watering easier, keeps cost down spraying cutting everything straight. It's just a lot quicker." Also since the technology is user friendly it is quite a simple matter to find a tractor operator that doesn't have a lot of experience and put them to work.
Back in the tractor cab I asked Matt to speculate on the future.
"Take the tractor to the field. Ride around the field and show it the outlines of it and hit your auto button and let it go by itself. Come back when it's done."
In case you were wondering what the word kinematic means. I looked it up. It is defined as motion of objects with out consideration of what causes the motion.