With the TMX-2050 display and Autopilot, Leo Dunne Ltd. is able to cover more acres per hour and build more accurate carrot beds, resulting in less time and crop loss.
Photo Credit 📷: Olivia Charles Agri Photography
Weather is often a challenging factor in farming, especially in Ireland where conditions can change quickly. Leo Dunne Ltd., a family-owned farm that grows nearly 1,000 acres of carrots, other vegetables and cereals, knows this well.
Located in Durrow, Laois, Ireland, the farm — which focuses primarily on carrots — faces short windows of ideal weather conditions for farm work, particularly during cultivation.
To maximize their time and machinery, they realized they needed to be as accurate as possible, which led them to invest in GPS auto-steer guidance.
They first tried a different system, but as farm manager Tim Davies puts it, “Nothing went right with it,” and after-sales service and support were non-existent. After just one season, they decided to look for a new system.
Upon consulting their Massey Ferguson dealer, as well as conducting a survey on a British farming Facebook group, they decided on Trimble and began working with reseller Vantage Ireland in 2017.
Quick Installation, Short Learning Curve
The farm started with a TMX-2050 display and Autopilot with full RTK accuracy on an 8480 Massey Ferguson tractor, which they use for ridging carrot beds. Because the tractor is from 2008 and didn’t have GPS capabilities, it needed a new motor drive and steering wheel installed. It took about two days to retrofit the tractor.
While Davies had previous experience with GPS guidance, he found the TMX-2050 to be very user-friendly, even for the employees who had never used GPS before. He trained six employees on the system and says after walking them through it a couple times, they seem to be doing well with it.
In-Field Efficiency Increases 20%
Benefits showed up almost immediately once they began using the technology.
“I saw straight away that we were doing more acres an hour because it was a lot more accurate,” Davies says.
For example, before the drivers were doing three-point turns in the headlands before making their next pass. With Autopilot, the tractor follows a circular path, eliminating the need for three-point turns. Now when a tractor enters the field, it’s always moving forward and should never have to stop, resulting in significant time savings.
Davies estimates they’re now 20% more efficient in the field than they were before.
“If a driver cultivates by eye, he would probably end up doing two or three trips extra because he’s overlapping,” he explains. “When you put that across hundreds of acres, you’re going to save time.”
Not having to focus on steering also allows the driver to focus on what’s happening behind the tractor. Whether it’s cultivating, sowing, or spreading fertilizer, being able to watch the operation taking place ensures greater accuracy and efficiency.
Davies is also better able to maximize employee time because a driver can look at the display and tell him how many acres he’s completed and how many he has left. This allows Davies to plan the day better and ensure he gets a good day’s work out of everyone.
Accurate Maps Reduce Inputs and Crop Loss
Knowing the exact acreage of their fields is another benefit of using the TMX-2050 with Autopilot. When sowing hundreds of thousands of carrot seed per acre, Davies says it’s important to know whether a field is actually 16 acres instead of 17, to ensure they’ve got the right amount of inputs for the field. He expects this will provide an even greater return on investment once they begin using the technology on their sprayer and fertilizer operations.
It’s also important because field sizes in Ireland are smaller compared to the rest of Europe. Leo Dunne’s fields range from as small as 5.5 acres to 54 acres, with the carrot and vegetable fields averaging around 10 acres.
“You have to utilize every square inch of the field right up to the hedge,” Davies says. “If I’m going to put seven spray applications on from pre-emerge to harvest, to get the exact acreage with GPS is brilliant from a costing point of view.”
After a year with the one display, the farm decided to add a second TMX-2050 with Autopilot to its 7726 Massey Ferguson tractor, which is used for shaping the vegetable beds.
Having two TMX-2050 displays allows them to use Vehicle Sync so the 8480 tractor can wirelessly transfer the AB lines to the 7726. Because the 7726 now follows the exact same path as the 8480, it’s eliminated any discrepancies in the beds — an important factor in carrot production, Davies says.
“We have to have the sower as wide as possible on that bed, so you can have as much growing space as possible for the carrots,” he explains. “If those beds are not accurate, the sower keeps falling on and off the bed, which then just means you’re losing crops.”
Top Support Drives Further Investment
Leo Dunne plans to continue investing in more TMX-2050 displays and Autopilot receivers — ideally, Davies would like at least four or five units, with one for fertilizing and one for spraying, so he can also use variable-rate control to further increase accuracy and cost savings.
He’s also looking into Trimble Ag Software, which would allow him to view where the tractors are from his laptop, what acres they’ve covered and how fast they’re going. He’s also considering adding TrueTracker implement steering.
But one of the main reasons Davies wants to continue investing in the GPS systems is because of the positive experience he’s had with Vantage Ireland.
“It’s top class service and support,” he says.
He recalls how one time he called up Mick McCarthy, who handles sales, support, installation and business development for Vantage Ireland, about a problem he was having. Despite being on the west coast, McCarthy asked Davies to drop a pin of his location on Google Maps, and within two hours he was in the field to fix it.
Davies adds that McCarthy continues to send tutorial videos and calls in regularly about any updates or changes.
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Leo Dunne Ltd.
Located in Durrow, Laois, Ireland, Leo Dunne Ltd. primarily focuses on carrot production, which it supplies to Tesco and Dunnes Stores — two of the largest grocery store chains in Ireland — as well as several smaller stores. Owned by Leo Dunne and his wife Bernadette, the farm now employs over 40 people, with their son Emmett overseeing the operation as general manager. Of the nearly 1,000 acres they grow, 300 is dedicated to carrot production and 50 to mixed vegetables, with the remaining acreage in cereal crops, which includes winter wheat, winter barley, spring oats and spring barley.
Trimble Vantage Reseller
Operating out of KOREC Ireland’s office in Dublin, Vantage Ireland is the premier reseller of Trimble’s total farm solutions, serving growers and crop advisors throughout the Republic of Ireland.
Short Weather Windows and Small Fields
With short weather windows and small field sizes, Leo Dunne’s challenge is to maximize the use of its time and machinery to do as much work as possible before the weather changes, and to capitalize on every inch of available acreage without over- or under-applying inputs.
Increased Accuracy and Efficiency
In two seasons, Leo Dunne worked with Vantage Ireland to install two TMX-2050 displays and Autopilot with RTK accuracy. By eliminating manual steering and bringing GPS accuracy down to 2.5 centimeters, Leo Dunne saw a 20% increase in in-field efficiency, as well as more accurate carrot beds, which is important to carrot production.
Continued Investment in Precision Ag
Leo Dunne plans to invest in one new TMX-2050 display with Autopilot per year over the next two or three years. The goal is to have the technology on the sprayer and fertilizer tractors, which would allow for variable-rate control. They are also looking into Trimble Ag Software and TrueTracker implement steering.