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Rolling at 6 mph, Mississippi rice farmer Mitch Wilson’s levee plow throws up a berm of soil that’s perfectly contoured to the land. The new levee is built to the optimal height for holding water in his rice paddy. Wilson is among the first rice farmers to use GPS guidance for levee building. Compared to the way he used to do it, with a laser and his best guess, this is flying.  Sub-inch RTK and GLONASS, along with Trimble® Farm Works Surface software, is the perfect partner for the Trimble FieldLevel II leveling system on his FmX™ integrated display. Wilson’s levee project is not only faster than with a laser, it’s more accurate and better-planned.
“This saves me a lot of time,” says Wilson.  “One Saturday, I surveyed 300 acres in 3 ½ hours with my Trimble FmX and the Surface software.  I used to move the FmX to an ATV for surveying, but now I plant and survey from the tractor cab to save trips across the field.”
Timing is crucial when levee building.  Wilson explains that it’s best to build during sunny days that dry out and firm the levee structure.  But windows of perfect weather can be rare during rainy springs.  So when conditions are good, there’s motivation to get the job done quickly.  “This year we had a sunny, windy day that let us build,” recalls Wilson. “The wind was 25-30 mph, which would have buffeted a tripod enough to prevent us from using a laser. But with GPS, the wind doesn’t matter.  I got the job done and the next day it rained 3 inches.  It was great to see the levees hold the water, flooded from top to bottom, with no leaks! Since then, we’ve had 5-6 more inches of rain and I have not seen a problem.”
Wilson is still amazed at the difference from how he used to survey and build levees.  “For 30 years I’ve been surveying with lasers. You can only shoot the laser about 1,000 feet on a good day, so I would have to move that laser 13 times.  That took a lot of time, and every time you move a laser, there’s a chance you could get off the correct line and make errors.
“RTK with GLONASS is so much easier. All my land is within range of a 180ft RTK tower owned by Delta Positions, the Trimble dealership that encouraged me to try this. We’d been talking for the last couple of years about how levees would work better with Farm Works Surface software.  They worked with Trimble to make it happen. I’m not exactly what you’d call computer literate, but I have used Farm Works for years. It was easy to install the new Surface program myself and start surveying and printing out lines. I definitely want this program on all my future levee work.”


For more information about Farm Works Surface, please click here.

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