Plot Layout Using RTK GPS

One of the challenges for contract research is to quickly position research trials in a field. We call this “laying out trials”. When the field conditions are ideal to lay out trials its usually time to plant. As a result, planting may be delayed until trials can be placed. One of the challenges to field trial layout is squaring the plots to field edges and one another. In the past, this was done by hand using 300 foot tapes and multiple people. In the mid-west, strong spring winds can make this nearly impossible.

Laying out trials prior to planting can be time consuming and all encompassing for everyone involved. As a result, it became apparent that a new process was needed.

The solution we chose was to install a John Deere RTK GPS unit and a AutoTrak Universal on a small utility tractor. Note the GPS mounted on the front of the tractor to accommodate the short wheelbase.

We built a small five foot “disc” to match the width of our standard alleys and is driven perpendicular to the trial row direction. All set-up and layout is accomplished via the 2630 display.

In order to mark the plot edges within a trial, we purchased an old anhydrous toolbar and mounted straight shanks ten feet apart. The toolbar can be swathed across the field parallel to the trial and a grove is made every ten feet. These “groves” bisect the alleys and complete the plot edges. This process allows a “grid” to be placed over a predetermined area and used for trial layout. This process has reduced the number of people needed for layout and allowed planting to start earlier.

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