Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 16 October 2018

This year's terrible weather will have knock-on effects in 2019

Total gridlock: Farmer Paddy Cummins is pictured (left) transporting a bale and pulling in for the oncoming sprayer on a narrow country lane near his farm in Borris, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones.
Total gridlock: Farmer Paddy Cummins is pictured (left) transporting a bale and pulling in for the oncoming sprayer on a narrow country lane near his farm in Borris, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones.
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

I should be writing about how the crops are doing, but we are at least a month behind with everything.

The later the crops go in then the later the harvest date and then this too will have a knock on effect on the following years crops. This has been such a long winter and it doesn't seem to be coming to an end just yet.

I don't normally take supplements, but I reckon we have to be lacking in vitamin D, as it's been so long since we have seen the sun.

The long days did have one advantage and that was we got to do plenty of research on new technologies in agriculture.

One item that Phil has had on his wish list for a long time is better GPS equipment and in particular, an auto steer unit for the tractor.

This could be used now for both sowing and spraying and maybe more in the future. Some of this equipment is also included in the TAMS scheme.

We were looking at various types of GPS equipment and were shocked at the high prices. TAMS would cover 40pc of the basic models but, if you want to add to it, above the basic price, that extra equipment is not covered by the TAMS scheme.

This makes the higher end models out of reach to most peoples pockets.

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The next thing we discovered, is that a part of the price is paying to activate the device.

This is to connect it to the satellites that are circumnavigating the earth.

These satellites are used to locate and guide the self steer machinery.

I understand that we need to pay for this technology, however, here is the problem. If we decide to sell this machine in the future, that activation code goes with the control box and not with the farmer.

This means if we trade it in, we have a choice to either keep the original control box and activation code or buy a full new control box and another activation code.

If we sell the machinery without the control box we could get less for our trade in, as the machinery dealer would have to replace the control box and get new activation codes.

Or sell it privately and explain to the new owner that they must now go and buy a control box to get it to actually work.

One of the reasons for the activation code staying with the machine is that, if someone stole our machine and tried to switch it on, then immediately it would show where that machine was in the world. It would also show who that machine is registered to.

But it does seem like a Catch 22 situation.

The other dilemma is that not all GPS units work on all machinery, so we need to decide what machinery we will be buying in the future.

If we decided to buy one particular GPS and then changed tractor or changed sprayer, it may not work.

Some GPS units are made to be used on all machinery and some are specific to particular manufacturers. Some you can buy with the tractor and others you can retro-fit.

We are also thinking about our combine in the future. Is this self steer technology something that we would make use of during harvest?

It could guide us in the dark, when normally we don't fill the whole of the header to be sure we are getting all of the crop in.

Hopefully we will get a few dry weeks and get the field work done and we won't have time to be worrying about new technology.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter P&H Harris @kildarefarmer

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