So this is our latest high-tech gadget around here. It looks like just a piece of string, right?
Oh, it is. But it is also so much more.
Awhile back, Sean decided to invest in this fancy-schmancy system for the tractor that would help him make completely straight rows in the field. The straighter the rows, the more we can fit into the field and the better it is for watering the crops evenly. The system Sean purchased was supposed to use GPS to help guide the tractor and keep it on as straight of a path as possible. But, as anyone with GPS in the car knows, there is a certain margin for error at play when you are bouncing data off of satellites. If we were a bigger operation with thousands of acres, this might have worked. But for a farm our size, we needed something a with a little more precision and accuracy than what the GPS could offer. So back went the fancy-schmancy system, and Sean was left trying to figure this out.
And then that moment came, the one your high school math teacher promised would happen, where you realized you really would use those things you were taught in the ninth grade. Sean remembered that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And now this is what we have all over the farm…
Sean surveyed out the fields and then installed metal pipes into the ground. He measured exactly between each pipe, so they are a consistent distance and wide enough for Sean to drive through with the tractor. Before he forms a new bed, a string is tied between the two metal pipes at either end of the field.
In truth, it does take a little more than a string to make this work. Sean fiddled with trying to figure out how to accurately see the string from his angle up in the driver’s seat, so he could stay in line consistently and keep his eye on the field as he drove. That is when he did this…
He attached an arm to the side of the tractor that was balanced perfectly over the string. He then attached a wireless D-Link camera to it pointing toward the ground, with a ruler and guidelines along the side of it, so he could make sure that the camera was at the properly centered.
There is a wireless network he puts up in the tractor when he needs it. It then receives this feed and sends it to an iPad that Sean can mount in the tractor and monitor while he drives.
So now he drives the tractor while watching the string on the iPad to make sure it stays perfectly in line while he is pulling the bed-former.
(And here I thought he was just out there playing “Angry Birds”…)
For the price of a wireless camera and some string, we now have rows that are perfectly straight. This has not only made the fields look prettier, in my opinion, but it has allowed us to expand our growing areas.
Take that fancy GPS, you got beat by a string!