Auto steer for agriculture

Hi i am from South Africa and is a farmer and is very interested in auto steer for tractors i have no idea where to start.
i also have very little knowledge of all the technical stuff and would welcome any and all ideas.
Would something like this be easy? would i be able to buy stuff that is very close to the finished product? the reason i am on this forum is i think the commercial products people sell us is way to expensive.
PS English is not my first language


While using the APM platform would definitely be the cheapest solution, it’s not what I’d recommend. These small controllers are not as reliable as what most would want on a piece of equipment as expensive as a tractor or harvester. Though as long as you have an operator nearby and several safety measures in place, it may be okay. As second in command on a farm in the USA I do have a little experience. We use a brand called Agleader. Those are expensive, but very reliable systems. If you do want to use the APM, here are some links:

And here is agleader, who does have a dealer in South Africa:

For what application do you require auto-steer and what piece of equipment do you want to install it in? While the robot tractor of Manitoba is very impressive (I’ve attended one of Matt’s seminars a couple weeks ago) it is an autonomous project rather than auto-steer in the traditional agricultural sense. Auto-steer is used on the farm to guide things such as sprayers, seeders and swathers with the operator still in the drivers seat.
Typical farm based auto-steer systems use GPS guidance and require RTK accuracy. I know of several local farmers who are running GNSS base stations for their farms as well as others who are purchasing subscription VRS corrections (Canadian market).

Thank you for your reply i am looking into the stuff one can buy but it is just to expensive for now.
The system i am thinking of is definitely one where the driver is still in the seat of the tractor it is only like the assisted steering thing that you can buy from dealers.
I just need to get the spacing between cuts right and some of the implements we use is wider than the tractor so i would like to minimize overlapping.
I was thinking of something else as well if i can create more than one base stations that is always put up at exactly the same place can gps not be eliminated altogether it will be possible for me to create this base stations so that there always is line of site to them.

As far as RTK, there is both the Reach from emlid, and the Piksi. I can’t speak for the reach, but the Piksi does work, quit well. At its simplest, you could just create a mission with the apm programmed as a Rover, and manually create your pattern. There would be no deviating from it though, you’d have to follow this set path for the entire field. What brand of tractor you have is another issue, that I don’t believe you’ve said yet. We’re considering a similar project as you, and so far our research brought us to the decision to use an old trimble or agleader system; their early autopilot systems used a motor to turn a wheel that was pressed against the steering wheel. That’d be a precut and easy to install system, but finding a dealer that still has one could be a challenge. It should be cheap though.

Thank you for your reply.
I live in Africa and around here all the tame thing are wild and all the wild things are tame.
Want to put it on the tractor so i can cut alfalfa with it and make as little as possible dubble cuts(overlaps).
We also have some wild animals living in the fields and i would like to concentrate more on the place were the mower is going to cut and less on keeping the front wheel on the right place.
I would also never think of letting the tractor work without someone in the seat.
What is a GNSS base station?
I was also thinking of putting up to more than one base stations that is not GPS on exactly the same spot every time and let the tractor triangulate from these base stations.

I have a Chinese tractor (YTO) very basic and no modern electronics also was thinking of the autopilot system as you describe we can buy them here brand new for R45 000 (USD 3000) but they are only 30-40 cm (12-16 inch) accurate and i am not sure that will be good,then one must buy a base station R100000 (USD 6500) and a yearly subscription of R60000 (USD 2000) per year for better accuracy

I was speaking of strictly using the controller, and wiring it up to the apm. I haven’t priced a controller, it’s old enough our dealer was ready to just give it to us if they had one laying around. That, with the autopilot (200USD) and the rtk setup (1000usd) is probably the cheapest; if ntrip is available with the Reach I’d go that way since the cost is about the same.

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