Upgrade puts program on another level
Developments with the LevelGuide software program used for land levelling and contour generation have enhanced its suitability for earthmoving and agricultural contractors.
LevelGuide is integrated within the wider AgGuide mapping and guidance program, which also offers auto-steer, implement guidance, variable rate control and spray control, including boom section switching.
FarmscanAG business manager John Chalmers said land levelling was expanding from the traditional cotton and cane production areas - the Riverina in New South Wales, Victoria and WA's north-west - driven by efficiency and productivity requirements and, in numerous cases, environmental regulations.
"There is an increasing need to use and manage water more effectively and efficiently," John said.
"Users are looking to either control it or ensure they are maximising the value of every drop."
There is also increased responsibility for potentially contaminated run-off from agricultural lands.
John said the software program would soon incorporate cross levelling control, allowing operators to tilt buckets during cut and fill.
Supplier Steve Hanlon, of Landform Survey and Design, said further development with LevelGuide to create curved surfaces was another major boost.
"Particularly suitable for dryland situations, the ability to make a curved surface will provide for better drainage," said Steve, who is an agricultural engineer and has been involved with land levelling and irrigation and dam design since the 1990s.
"One of the big frontiers in precision agriculture is to get drainage right, not just on irrigated land, but also in dryland crops, and this will be a big step towards achieving that."
Steve said LevelGuide was suitable for all earthmoving contractors and operators had been impressed with the simplicity and easy-to-follow screen layout of the system.
"LevelGuide was designed to have a similar look and feel to laser levelling technology," he said.
"With laser bucket control, users would set a plane, decide the height for the bucket and go to work. They could also use a survey to cut up a paddock into simple planes and then set the bucket up and adjust the blade each time for each plane."
In LevelGuide, the operator can collect one, two or three GPS points and the software calculates the bearing and the grade between the points.
"Operators can also manipulate the grade and the height like they do with a laser to allow for field conditions. If they want to build a drain it is simple to adjust, just like with laser levelling," Steve said.
"The LevelGuide program also uses multi-section designs and users can automate the GPS to follow the multiple planes.
"They can go from plane to plane and it will automatically set the grade as they go, and they can auto-steer and level at the same time.
"LevelGuide can use designs from various design software packages, but we find the Ezigrade software to be the most comprehensive."
John said farming and civil contractors could benefit from using the LevelGuide software for construction works.
"If it's constructing dams, designs can be imported into the LevelGuide ready to go," he said.
"If it's a block of land with simple planes, then the program can generate a design straight away.
"Full multi-plane cut-fill designs can be generated and imported, including on-screen colourisation and cross-section views.
"Freehand contour banks are also a breeze to set up."
John said operators could use their existing GPS units as long as they were satisfied with the vertical accuracy and reliability of their equipment.
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