Every inch counts

Text Sofia Lundgren Photo Karin Röse Published 15 December, 2021
Saving a few centimetres’ worth of driving doesn’t sound like it would make a major difference. But when it comes to tractors working the fields over and over, those few centimetres can save precious money, time and emissions.

When it comes to sustainability, the best changes are small ones that yield big results and save money to boot. Using GPS to avoid overlapping when plowing and harrowing is a shortcut that really pays off. Thanks to meticulously planned driving, capacity is enhanced by 10 %, the equivalent of half a hectare per hour worked, and emissions of CO2 are reduced by up to 0.9 kilos per hectare (ha). The benefits don’t end there, though. 

“Driving a tractor demands total focus to steer it correctly. The most important task is to keep track of the tool behind the tractor. If, for example, it pushes too much dirt or soil, the driver must ease up on the pressure. Driving like this for many hours, focusing both on steering 

and on what’s happening behind you, makes you tired. With GPS we get a better result from our work, and its much less hard on the drivers. It’s a huge improvement on our working environment,” says Ulf Segerström, Agricultural Operations Manager at Menhammar Farm. 

By feeding a map into the GPS, the device can then measure the straight line, taking into account the width of the tool being used, like a harrow. The GPS then calculates the route with the least overlapping, down to 5 centimetres. Even a skilled driver usually overlaps by 60 centimetres driving without a GPS. Since Menhammar Farm has close to 600 ha of agricultural and grazing land, those centimetres matter. Approximately 300 ha is used for pasture, which means that when you add up all the work – fertilizing, sowing and harrowing – there are six different working moments involving a tractor for every hectare, Ulf Segerström explains: 

“GPS technique has been around for a while. What we’ve done is some fine-tuning and made it up to date. This technique requires drivers with considerable knowledge of machines and technology, but ultimately it saves a lot of driving, fuel and time.”