Emmetts Blog

Carrot Harvester Steering

Having been told it couldn’t be done, it has!

Written by Richard Sawyer

When initial enquiries were made by Nicols Carrots in Virginia, South Australia, into John Deere autotrac guidance on their new Assalift Carrot harvester, they were told it would not be possible without using a universal steering wheel (ATU). Like many customers the thought of a motor on the steering wheel did not sit comfortably, an integrated system was the requirement and “it couldn’t be done” was not the answer Bronte or Doug were going to accept.


Finally the challenge was taken up. Following a great deal of research a solution was found, it was possible to utilise a tractor kit consisting of a steering valve and harnessing, which would potentially meet the requirement. However this had not been done before so advice on installation was not abundant.

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Installing the harnessing and the steering block began, however initial problems arose with calibrating the system. This was the start of a long array of issues that appeared, stretching all the resources and expertise within the Emmetts Precision Ag and the Roseworthy service department to resolve the problems as they arose, one after another. Through a desire to see the project succeed both from the Emmetts teams and particularly by Bronte at Nicols carrots the major issues were overcome and the machine had steering capabilities via a John Deere integrated system.

This however was not the end of it, the machine operated in two modes, harvest and transport. In the harvest mode the steering system effectively set the machine on a 5 degree crab steer offset. This enabled the lifting heads to travel parallel along the row. Allowing for this became the next major hurdle in setting the system up to steer straight on RTK. Through a great deal of measuring, trial and error the machine works as if it had been built to do it.


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The last task to do was to tidy up the cab, as many people know there is always an abundance of cables and wiring when installing harnesses into or onto equipment, and this was certainly no different. The engineering department at Nichols made up a box to sit next to the seat which housed the controller and cables, the switches for the autosteer were conveniently mounted in the harvesters control panel and the 2630 sat on the corner post, all in all making a neat and tidy job.


Carrot Harvester #2.jpg Carrot Harvester #1.jpg

This project had its own uniqueness in the make and model of machine, however it does go to show the versatility of the John Deere autotrac system. Needless to say, however versatile the system, it is the perseverance of all involved from both Emmetts and Nicols Carrots that made this happen. I can think of many times when the project may have been canned, however the utilisation of resources and experience throughout the teams, enabled something that was deemed as not possible, possible.

Please contact the Emmetts Precision Ag team for more information on where John Deere precision Ag solutions can help to optimise your enterprise.



Topics: Technology, Horticulture

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