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Trimble Auto-Steer Transforms Spraying Operations at Philip Wareing Limited

In the ever-evolving landscape of agriculture, innovation takes centre stage as farmers seek to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and minimise environmental impact. One such innovation gaining traction is the integration of auto-steer technology into spraying trucks, a move that promises to revolutionise the precision and effectiveness of field operations.


Vantage New Zealand has been working with Philip Wareing Limited (PWL) to install auto-steering technology in two of their spray trucks. PWL is a family-owned and managed transport company in Methven, established in 1975. They began as a spraying contracting business and are now one of the largest rural transport companies in the South Island.


The journey of this project began around seven months ago when PWL expressed that they wanted to save on inputs and increase their accuracy of spraying and make life easier for their drivers. While already utilising Trimble GPS with FieldIQ and the GFX-750 for spraying operations, PWL sought to elevate their capabilities by incorporating auto-steer functionality into their trucks.


Trimble’s auto-steer technology offers farmers and contractors like PWL the ability to navigate straight lines with precision, a crucial factor in optimising the efficiency of spraying operations. As contractors put in all their lines at the start of the season, everyone will then use those lines, so it is important that they are accurate and repeatable.

By being able to align with straight, pre-established run lines for the season, the trucks minimise overspray, leading to substantial savings in both product and fuel. The advantages extend beyond mere precision, with the technology contributing to significant chemical savings and reduced environmental impact.


The first hurdle was installing the equipment and having it certified so the sprayers could move freely on NZ roads. Certification is a meticulous process, especially for modifications involving auto-steer systems, which is important as trucks need to be able to move freely on New Zealand roads. The fear of accidents due to the self-steering technology looms large, necessitating thorough scrutiny by regulatory bodies.


James Storey, Vantage New Zealand Trimble Solutions Specialist, had a history of collaboration with Gilchrist Brothers on similar projects. Gilchrist Brothers, known for their proficiency in installing advanced systems, took charge of the technical aspects, ensuring that the auto-steer technology was not only seamlessly incorporated into the two existing trucks but also met rigorous safety standards.


The involvement of NZTA was crucial in ensuring that any alterations made to the trucks adhered to safety regulations and received proper certification. This step was essential to prevent potential legal issues, maintain insurance coverage, and secure roadworthiness.


Historically, operators hesitated to adopt systems such as auto-steer due to the risk of facing legal consequences, including trucks being ordered off the road. The collaboration with Gilchrist Brothers provided a legal and certified avenue for PWL to upgrade their trucks without compromising safety or legality.


Mark Wareing, co-owner of Philip Wareing Limited, has high praise for the impact of Trimble’s auto-steer system on their spraying operations. He sees it as a valuable tool for training new operators, helping them learn to maintain straight tramlines quickly and efficiently.


“It has empowered one of our trainee drivers to operate the spray rig with increased speed and efficiency,” Wareing says. “Without it, the learning curve for mastering straight driving would have been significantly more time-consuming.”


For experienced operators, Trimble’s auto-steer technology allows them to focus more on the precision of spraying rather than the manual task of driving straight. The technology also helps reduce fatigue and ensures that jobs are as efficient as they can be and repeatable every time.


“With the type of geography we spray, there can be many different types of obstacles in the paddock, and with auto-steer, the driver is able to watch their booms and concentrate on all the other aspects of actually spraying,” Wareing explains. “It also helps us reduce any over or under-spray.”


Wareing is particularly impressed with the comprehensiveness of the Trimble system. He says it offers a well-rounded solution for the multifaceted challenges encountered in their operations, making it an indispensable asset to their business.


“There isn’t a single standout function with Trimble,” Wareing says. “It’s the whole package that makes it so valuable to us. It’s a reliable and efficient system that helps us get the job done right.”


Wareing said that his father always said that you can tell the quality of the workmanship by how straight the drivers had driven, but with modern technology we see an improvement that will simplify what used to be quite a skill. Overall, PWL is extremely satisfied with their investment in Trimble’s auto-steer system. They believe it has had a transformative impact on their spraying operations, leading to increased efficiency, productivity, and accuracy.


In essence, the auto-steer integration serves as a game-changer in the world of precision agriculture. It addresses the concerns of accuracy, efficiency, and environmental sustainability, marking a paradigm shift in how spraying operations are conducted.


As we witness the ongoing transformation of traditional farming practices, the integration of auto-steer technology into spraying trucks stands out as a beacon of progress. The collaborative efforts of PWL, Vantage New Zealand, and Gilchrist Brothers demonstrate a strong commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the pursuit of excellence in modern agriculture.


As this journey unfolds, it sets a precedent for the industry, encouraging farmers and contractors to embrace technology-driven solutions for a more efficient and sustainable future. If you would like to know more about Trimble’s auto steer or how Precision Agriculture can optimise your farming practices, get in touch with the team at Vantage New Zealand on 0800 462 862 or

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