Planting with GPS and LED indicators

Planting with GPS and LED indicators

The disc planting machines have been equipped with a hydraulic drive for years. This requires the plant to be inserted at a fixed mark on the planting disc. However, this drive also has its limitations. For instance, it is not always possible to make a tight connection on the bed and this hydraulic control has limitations in terms of distance precision.

An electro-hydraulic control has therefore been available since 2015. This control monitors the disc rotation speed and catches deviations from the hydraulic control. This benefits distance precision. Recently, it has become possible to link this electro-hydraulic with the RTK GPS system. This combination offers even higher accuracy regarding planting distance. Moreover, it is possible to create a tight connection, both on the bed and throughout the field.

The plant markings on the plant disc disappear and are replaced by an LED indicator strip. This strip is attached flush to the plant disk and runs with the curvature of the plant disk. On this strip, the LEDs will light up one by one. This happens at the same peripheral speed as the plant disk. This happens at the same peripheral speed as the plant disk. The LED indicators light up, as it were, at a fixed position on the plant disk. The intention is to insert the plant at this position.

For this control to work, however, an RTK GPS combined with a grid module is required. This control has been tested with Ag Leader, Raven and Trimble GPS systems. The RTK (real-time kinematic) automatically corrects the tractor's GPS receiver with a fixed base station (BASE) in the field. This achieves an accuracy of 2.5 cm.

The planting distance is set on both the GPS module and the planting machine. At each synchronisation moment, the LED lights up briefly in a different colour. This is a sign to the planters that the GPS is still working properly. When the GPS module is not activated, or when a poor GPS signal is detectable, this is an immediate warning to the planters to intervene and make sure the setting is correct.