FieldXplorer takes flight in Thai sugar plantations

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Precision technology has reached new heights with GPS-enabled drones now able to interact with Case IH AFS (Advanced Farming Systems) software, providing accurate and real-time intelligence to help make on-farm decisions.

The technology is called FieldXplorer, and it’s just been launched in conjunction with Case IH’s new Austoft 9000 series sugarcane harvesters in Thailand.  All Austoft 9000 sugarcane harvesters are built ready with the latest innovations in sugarcane production including Case IH auto guidance, known as AFS AccuGuide.

A factory ordered option, AFS AccuGuide technology enables automatic steering of the harvester with ultimate precision along every row thanks to a high performance AFS GPS receiver and steering controller. For additional accuracy, FieldXplorer uses a GPS-enabled drone to capture images of the crop. Using the FieldXplorer platform, those images are converted into guidance lines for harvesting operations. Return on the investment in auto guidance is made immediately via improved harvester operation and reduced crop damage.

Different planting line configurations can also be analysed using FieldXplorer, providing an informed choice for the best planting pathways to be used. The selected configuration is then exported to the auto guidance system in the tractor, which results in an optimised planting plan for each field that promises higher production of sugarcane.

FieldXplorer can also be used to pinpoint planting failures and calculate row spacing quality, all with the goal of minimising losses.


Greater levels of accuracy

Case IH AFS Product Manager, Matthew McDonald, says this technology will soon be widely accepted as a key step to significantly improving sugarcane productivity in Thailand.

“When farmers use traditional ways to harvest and plant sugarcane, they can be limited to what they can see with their own eyes and control manually,” he said. “With the help of this new platform they can now harvest and plant sugarcane with greater levels of accuracy and efficiency which will lead to higher return on investment, maximum yield production and minimum crop failure.”

To ensure the technology exceeds customer expectations, it was tested extensively in the fields of one of the biggest mills in Thailand. Case IH staff, Thai dealers, and the customer involved in the trial, collaborated to test both the software and hardware in a range of scenarios.

“It was a wonderful experience to be in Thailand, working with Thai farmers and dealers in putting this technology through its paces,” Mr McDonald said.

“Thailand is one of the first countries in the world to access this technology, and the farms and mills that take it on will have a great advantage.

“With reduced crop and machine damage and improved operator performance, this complete end-to-end solution to automate harvesting with the Austoft 9000 will provide a fast return on investment,” he said.

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