Sportstraq is the first and only auto-steering technology developed for the turf industry. Our innovation is in utilizing iPad technology through custom applications to control various machines. This technology is not new, however. Various auto-steering systems have been widely used in agriculture for more than fifteen years and are now industry standard. Auto steering combined with sub inch RTK GPS is going to be a game changer for the turf industry.
What is Auto steering?
Auto-steering is a GPS controlled system that autonomously steers a piece of equipment. This is achieved through various components and software. The base components consist of an ECU, potentiometers, steering motor, GPS receiver, and software control. The actual steering system will either physically turn the steering wheel or can be run through system hydraulics. Once installed, the system will be calibrated by the operator, as the software needs to learn the dynamics of the equipment.
Calibration on the Sportstraq system is extremely easy and fast. We have engineered our iPad app to make this process intuitive. After installation, the operator will find a large, open area and engage the calibration section within the app. The control system will begin to move the steering wheel the as the operator controls the throttle. The machine will move in a somewhat erratic manner as the software is learning. After several minutes, the auto steer is calibrated and ready for use.
Advantages of Auto Steer
One word, overlap. Auto steer was developed for agriculture to save overlap on a pass-by-pass basis. Manually steering a tractor over acres of field causes general fatigue and the quality of each pass suffers. In a world where every square inch of crop matter, that is not good enough. Auto steer systems guarantee maximum crop spacing and the ability to repeat applications during the growing season without crop damage.
There are many areas of turf management where pass-to-pass operation have direct effect on turf quality and budgets. The most popular application of auto steer in turf is for chemical sprayers. Overlap of many herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides can have an adverse effect on the turf. If we look at applying Plant Growth Regulator (PGR’s), nozzle overlap is a considerable worry. An extra application of just half an ounce of product per thousand square feet can cause plant damage. Unlike farming, turf managers are applying to much smaller areas often with obstacles. Ensuring minimal overlap is increasingly difficult when maneuvering the sprayer around bunkers, trees, goals, or even bleachers. Auto steer on a turf sprayer will guarantee overlap at no more than an inch! When you combine auto steer with single nozzle GPS control, you can see up to 17% savings on chemicals.
Auto steer will also have other advantages for the turf manager. Traqnology’s Sportstraq system can easily be moved to other machines to offer one-inch pass-to-pass. This will have an advantage for mowing, fertilizer applications, aerification, seeding, snow removal, and many other agronomic practices. Pro Tip: The average overlap, pass-to-pass, of a quality fairway mower operator is more than one foot. You do not need to be a mathematician to understand the savings on fuel, labor, and turf quality saving eleven inches every pass. Not to mention soil compaction, with auto steer you can vary wheel tracks throughout the year.
What Traqnology Offers
Sportstraq is an auto steer product at its root. Traqnology has taken out the bulky and complicated monitors and replaced it with an iPad interface. Training an operator to use a tablet app is much less intimidating than complicated, custom software. Sportstraq can be used on any equipment with power assisted steering and is easily moved from machine to machine. Many customers use Sportstraq to line mark their athletic fields then move it to a tractor with a gang mower to cut the field. No other auto steer / GPS product has that functionality.
Sportstraq is built with the turf manager in mind. Sportstraq solves real maintenance problems with true multi-use assisted GPS equipment.