Precision-guided spraying is now a reality — but not just spraying, claims Indiana entrepreneur Steve Booher. Precision-guided mowing, aerating and snow management is possible too as the result of an alliance this past year between Kubota Tractor Corporation and Indianapolis-based Smart Guided Systems.
Booher developed the Android-based autosteer system that’s now being shared with Kubota dealers. The technology will allow autonomous steering of Kubota tractors, mowers, UTV, and other equipment. Kubota dealers are now starting to receive the system.
Briefly, the system gathers and stores information by connecting GPS antennas, an electronic control unit, an android tablet interface and live satellite map feeds via a web portal management system.
Equipment operators rely upon the system’s record-and-replay option to take the exact same route at any time in the future. This allows them to spray, mow, push snow or spread salt or deicers with greater precision. Booher says he developed the system from scratch specifically for the professional grounds and horticulture markets.
By eliminating double cutting in mowing, or overlap and missed areas with spraying or spreading — hardly uncommon in the landscape/snow services industry — operators money in reduced expenses for fertilizers, pest control products and equipment maintenance. Savings multiply when the system is employed for mowing, spraying or snow management for large areas.
The main focus for Smart Guided Systems for 2018 is its GPS Precision Spraying add-on kit. The assembly, which takes several hours, mounts on the back of many of today’s most popular turf sprayers. Operators, using the system, begin at the area they want to spray — commercial properties, estates, golf fairways, sports fields, etc. — and then drive the boundary once. While they are driving the property, their route and any other relevant data specific to the site, is saved to the cloud. Once there, any operator can retrieve the information as a work order any time in the future.
The sprayer will only spray within the boundary and it will also automatically turn off nozzles independently to avoid spraying outside the boundary and over-spraying inside the boundary, as well as reducing skips, Booher says. Along with coverage maps of various sprays, the system can provide a completion report of each finished work order, he adds.
Booher says his system reduces operator fatigue and boosts the productivity of inexperienced operators while improving the efficiency of veteran operators as well. Essentially all an operator has to do is “hit the play button” and the equipment follows a pre-determined pattern, he adds.