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  • Writer's pictureCoral Blaikie

Are Your VR Tools Ready?

Having the right tools to do a job makes work more effective and efficient, and even more enjoyable. In some cases, if we don't have the right tools, the job is not even possible. Drill openers for example can be replaced using a ratchet and socket but an impact wrench is far better, and of course you'd never even try it with just a hammer. It's good to remember you have tools for your Variable Rate (VR) program as well. Cloud services, USB sticks, and rate controllers/monitors are all tools that need to be cared for and used properly so your VR program is efficient and effective.

Cloud Services and USB Sticks Generally speaking, there are two different ways you can load prescriptions into your monitor: via cloud service (ex. Seed Hawk or John Deere) or by USB. If you want your prescription files through your cloud service, we simply need access to your account and we can upload them for you (Figure 1 and 2). You will then get an email with instructions to set up your VR jobs. If you load your prescription files by USB, we will email your files to you.

Figure 1. Seed Hawk iCon

Figure 2. JD Operations Centre

Since prescription files can be quite large, we must email them to you in a compressed folder (zip folder) so the email can travel quickly. As a result, you will need to "extract" the files from the zip folder and place them in your USB. But don't worry, we always include file loading instructions which include how to "extract" them from your email and place them in your USB. Just remember to follow the instructions carefully and be sure to start with an empty, good quality USB stick. Speaking of USB sticks, the USB is simply the tool used to carry your prescriptions so that you can put them into your monitor. Kind of like a toolbox. We strongly recommend that you purchase good quality USB sticks for your prescription files. While size does not matter, we have found that promotional USB sticks like those you may receive in a gift bag are generally of poor quality and can lead to corrupted prescriptions. Go to Staples, for example, and get a good quality stick such as Lexar or Verbatim (Figure 3). The knock off toolbox may work, but the good quality one will better protect what's inside and is less likely to break.

Figure 3. Lexar USB sticks

Rate Controllers/Monitors The rate controllers/monitors in your tractor cab are such a critical tool in the seeding process that it goes without saying that we must take very good care of them (Figure 4). Essentially, these are computers with small components that should be protected against hazards like freezing and condensation. It is best for the monitors to be kept where the temperature remains above zero if possible. If you did remove your monitor from the tractor this winter, remember to reconnect the GPS feed correctly when putting it back in the cab.

Figure 4. Topcon X35 monitor

While we're talking about monitors, people who are new to VR sometimes wonder if the calibration process needs to be done differently to account for the prescription they're about to apply. Simply put, the answer is no. VR prescriptions do not affect the calibration process at all. Just calibrate as you've always done in the past, and your prescriptions will behave properly.

One thing you will need to ensure though, is that your monitor has all the necessary unlock codes from your equipment manufacturer so VR prescriptions can be applied. If you've been applying prescriptions with that monitor in the past, then you should be good to go. Those of you who are new to SWAT MAPS will need to confirm with your own equipment dealer that your monitor has all the necessary unlocks. Bourgault monitors for example, come VR ready but many others don't necessarily. Save yourself some headache and check with your dealer in advance. Tools need to be set up correctly to work. Summary

Take some small steps to be well-prepared for seeding. Make sure we have access to your cloud account, or you have good quality USB sticks and then follow the emailed instructions. Calibrate as you normally do, start your seeding job, and enjoy the spring season!

If you need a hand, reach out to us. We’ll be glad to help.

Chris Hawkins

Sales & Communications Manager

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