Where old meets new

By Vicky Boyd


The 2005 World Ag Expo, known informally as the California Farm Equipment Show or Tulare Farm Show, had a little bit of old school mixed with a bit of new school.

As in years past, attendees were able to kick the tires of hundreds of makes and models of tractors, harvesters and implements.

But today's farm equipment is much more than just steel. Add-ons have gone high-tech with the advent of GPS (global positioning systems) and all the satellite-guided technology has to offer.

Peripherals, such as PDAs (personal digital assistants), have also joined the space age, so you can collect field data and send it to your office via wireless e-mail without even leaving the field.

Vendors offered all that and more at the 38th annual World Ag Expo, held near Tulare, Calif.


  Valve water deflector

If you flood irrigate orchards or fields, you may have experienced soil erosion near the valve. The Irrigation Valve Water Deflector from Poly Riser & Pipe of Willows, Calif, helps prevent the water from creating what amounts to be a small pond around your irrigation valve. The semi-circle deflector, built of tough polyethylene, fits 4- to 12-inch valves. You actually cut the size hole you need to fit around the valve, assuring a perfect fit every time. For information, contact Poly Riser & Pipe at (530) 934-3281.

Multi-function grape machine

It's a grape harvester. It's a disker. It's a mower. It's a sprayer. The Korvan 4012 Multi-Function Power Unit from OXBO International Corp. of Lynden, Wash., is all of the above. The unit is built around Korvan's successful mechanical grape harvester and features a John Deere 173-horse power engine. It has a low center of gravity, enabling it to work well on flat ground as well as hillsides. Not only does the 4012 harvest grapes, but it also incorporates the award-winning GreenTech spraying system that can treat three or four vineyards rows. For information, contact Korvan at (360) 354-1500, ext 258.


New tree chipper

With an increasing number of regulations restricting burning of agricultural waste, the new Brush Bandit Model 254 from Bandit Industries Inc. of Remus, Mich., may be the solution. With a 14-inch-by-20.5-inch chipper opening, the Bandit can make fast work of removing and chipping trees with up to a 14-inch diameter. A towable unit weighs only 7,500 pounds whereas one on tracks weighs 12,500 pounds. The machines come with several options, including a choice of diesel power unit sizes, an "Auto Feed Plus," a patented quad-wheel feed system and a 360-degree swivel discharge. For information, contact Bandit at (800) 952-0178.


Rugged PDA

If you've gone through a few PDAs (personal digital assistants) because they just weren't tough enough to stand up to the abuse they encountered in the field, the TDS Recon Field Computer may be for you. The hand-held unit is designed to exceed military standards for drop, vibration, and high and low temperature operation. It is completely sealed and can withstand being dropped in a pond or irrigation canal. With a full-color touch screen and Windows compatibility, the unit features a 200-megahertz Intel X-scale processor, 64 MB RAM and 64 MB flash. An option allows you to add a GPS (global positioning system) module. For information, contact Precision Farming Enterprises Inc. in Woodland, Calif., at (530) 662-4343.


Detect produce damage electronically

A new sorter for small-sized fruits and vegetables, such as berries, can detect internal defects without damaging the product. Using HyperVision Technology, the Soft Sorter from BBC Technologies uses near- infra-red (NIR) technology to detect defects, such as bruising. internal breakdown, decay and blemishes. The concept behind NIR is bruises in peppers, for example, will reflect less light than unblemished peppers. The machine can process up to 7,000 pounds per hour. For information, contact Produce Sorters International of Visalia, Calif., at (559) 651-7840.

Economical steering system

Trimble?s EZ-Steer assisted-steering system from Trimble Navigation Ltd. will help keep your tractor drivers on the straight and narrow. The system consists of a friction wheel mounted to the vehicle steering column that turns the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on line. To use it, though, you must first have a GPS (global positioning system). Unlike the top-of-the-line autopilot steering systems that are hooked into the tractor's hydraulic system, the EZ-Steer is easy to install and can be moved to another vehicle in a matter of minutes. It also provides a low-cost alternative that?s more accurate than foam markers and can be used for tillage, spreading, spraying and harvesting where sub-inch accuracy isn't needed. The system can be installed on more than 100 different rigs, including two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive tractors, articulated tractors, combines and sprayers. For information, contact Trimble at (408) 481-8000.

Stay connected in the field

With Pocket Jill software from Orange Enterprises Inc. of Fresno, Calif., you can send data to your office without ever leaving the field. The program, which runs on Windows for Pocket PC, allows you to send or receive data via e-mail or IP addresses using a wireless connection. The software will run on all PDA (personal digital assistant) cell phones. For information, contact Orange Enterprises at (800) 656-7264.


Hands-free steering system opens up

With the recent introduction of the AutoFarm RTK AutoSteer System 2005, AutoFarm becomes one of the first firms to feature an open CAN bus system. This will allow the AutoFarm system to easily communicate with systems from other manufacturers once they adopt the same standards. Currently, most companies feature proprietary standards so their equipment, such as tractors, yield monitors, rate controllers and guidance systems, can't communicate with equipment from other manufacturers. The System 2005 features the same GPS-guided hands-free steering and sub-inch repeatable accuracy as previous models from AutoFarm. In addition to the open architecture, the system features an easier-to-use touchscreen terminal. Dust is no longer an enemy to the sealed monitor. Instead of three components on the roof, the AutoFarm system now features only two, making it sleeker. For information, contact AutoFarm at (866) 428-8632.