Optimising benefits of GPS integration into controlled traffic farming (CTF) system : SRDC Grower Group Innovation Project final report
The modification of the haulout has been completed and been in operation for the 2007 harvesting season. The aim of the project was to primarily reduce the compacted area on the ends of the rows during the turning around phase of harvesting. The secondary aspect was to greatly improve the manoeuvrability of the unit and allow for reverse filling of the haulout by only having to keep the tractor straight. A second hand McLean 14tonne elevating bin was chosen for the modification. The original tandem suspension was removed to allow the chassis to be trimmed up to allow room for the ball race bearings to fit. EHS Manufacturing was commissioned to fabricate the two individual subframes to house the BPW air bag suspensions. EHS also constructed the trailer mounting plates which were welded to the chassis. A ram mounted to the chassis was used to turn the front axle with a tie rod to make the rear axle turn. Hyteco Hydraulics, based in Brisbane, was commissioned to design the electronics and hydraulics to make the unit functional. An EPIC controller, in conjunction with two potentiometers was used to use the angle at the hitch to steer the rear axles as required. Also when reverse on the tractor is selected the system steers the unit so it stays in line with the tractor. A trial, with the assistance of BSES and MAPS was set up to demonstrate and evaluate the unit. A fallow paddock was marked out to represent two metre beds. Measurements were taken off a controlled width headland turning in as if the field was being harvested. A significant reduction in the compacted area was noticed. Local farmers, contractors, BSES and MAPS staff were invited to a field day at the trial site. EHS staff also observed the demonstration and steering is now available as an optional extra on new haulout units. The modification has been successful in that all the aims have been achieved and in the long term the project has demonstrated that it will be a necessary tool in the move to a zero till farm.