Valtra Tops GPS Test; Deere Close Second in Farm Tech Race

In a groundbreaking GPS comparison test conducted by Future Farming, seven major tractor brands were put through their paces to determine the proficiency of their GPS steering systems. The results of this comprehensive analysis revealed that while each brand’s system performed admirably, the devil is in the details—specifically, advanced features and ease of use. Valtra emerged as the leader in this domain, with John Deere trailing closely behind.

Valtra’s GPS steering systems stood out for their user-friendliness, boasting a menu structure that was both straightforward and intuitive. The display was not only simple to navigate but also came loaded with advanced features that did not compromise its accessibility. Users could easily create temporary AB lines and manage field boundaries without getting lost in complicated submenus. Valtra’s ‘Go mode’ or ‘quick mode’ further simplified operations for those needing a quick and efficient setup. However, it’s not without its drawbacks; users cannot manually input coordinates for AB lines, and the receiver lacks a quick-release mechanism, necessitating the use of individual bolts. Additionally, the primary terminal screen is small, potentially requiring an optional second screen for optimal functionality.

John Deere’s GPS system, which boasts the most advanced display screen currently available, came in second with 40.1 points to Valtra’s 43.5. Its seamless integration of GPS with the off-board system and advanced obstacle recording features were highly praised. The ‘Quick AB line’ function was another plus, although accessing the receiver requires a bit of a climb—a minor inconvenience in an otherwise stellar system.

The activation of steering systems is a routine task that varies slightly across brands. Valtra simplifies the process with a main switch that activates both the hydraulics and auto-steer button. John Deere simplifies it further; a single press of the activation button is all that’s needed. Deutz-Fahr, on the other hand, requires a more involved sequence to engage the system.

When it comes to GPS steering activation via the joystick, McCormick and John Deere offer flexibility with programmable buttons, while Deutz-Fahr necessitates programming the function into the headland management or using an Isobus AUX-N function. Some brands, like Claas and John Deere, don’t support automatic GPS activation in a headland sequence, while others do, offering a more seamless experience.

The ability to activate the steering system while stationary is another point of differentiation. Brands like Claas, New Holland, and John Deere allow for this, with John Deere’s system deactivating after 30 seconds if the tractor doesn’t exceed 1 km/h—unless equipped with the Slow Speed AutoTrac function. Valtra, Massey Ferguson, and Deutz-Fahr also permit stationary activation, but the system only becomes active upon movement.

Claas’s GPS system, powered by the globally recognized Trimble brand, boasts a convenient button for switching between lines and the ability to log detailed data. However, the system is not integrated and requires many button presses to quickly create an AB line.

New Holland’s system features an advanced Auto-Turn function and a large, clear display screen, but is hampered by slow screen response and a lengthy boot-up time. Additionally, there is no quick method for creating an AB line.

The ease of use for automatic steering systems was also compared, with Massey Ferguson, Valtra, and John Deere excelling in this area. Massey Ferguson’s quick AB line function and useful features like ‘Wayline Assistant’ and ‘Contour Segments’ stood out, although it lacks an Auto-turn function and has limited obstacle management capabilities.

The implications of these findings are significant for farmers and agricultural professionals who rely on precision and efficiency. The ease of use and advanced features of GPS steering systems can greatly impact daily operations, influencing everything from time management to data organization. As technology continues to evolve, the emphasis on user-friendly interfaces and integrated systems will likely become even more pronounced, shaping the future of farming and equipment design.

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