Jeffrey Barnes is having some fun with an ag editor who’s “driving” a John Deere 4720 Self-Propelled Sprayer equipped with AutoTrac on a bright, sunny afternoon in central Florida.

The driver is expressing some surprise at the sprayer just having made a 180-degree turn on the edge of a field without him touching the wheel when Barnes tells him to watch the spray boom on the right side of the sprayer.

The nozzles on the boom, which had turned back on when the sprayer completed the 180, just as suddenly turn off. “That’s the area that you decided didn’t need spraying,” says Barnes, a crop systems product specialist, who works for Deere out of Olive Branch, Miss.

Barnes was demonstrating a new technology called Swath Control Pro that John Deere introduced on its 4720 and 4920 Self-Propelled Sprayers on March 3.

The new system controls the boom sections and spray nozzles turning on and off automatically based on a Global Positioning System or GPS coverage map that is created as the sprayer goes through the field.

“Swath Control Pro is the next evolution of GPS machine control,” says Curt Schaben, product manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions or AMS. “Imagine being able to spray through the field with an AutoTrac guidance system steering the machine, and Swath Control Pro automatically turning the sprayer boom sections on and off only when needed.

“This is reality today and will bring even more productivity to an applicator’s spray operation.”

Integrated with the GreenStar 2 system, Swath Control Pro applies chemical according to a GPS coverage map. Product is only applied where and when it is intended for efficient chemical application.

The new technology also helps operators eliminate the skips and overlaps that unintentionally occur when they lose focus or over steer to correct a slight lapse in control.

“With AutoTrac guidance, the operator sprays more efficiently by eliminating skips and reducing overlap,” says Schaben. “Overall the operator becomes more productive because of less stress operating the machine.”

Swath Control Pro also helps operators handle tasks that have required a considerable amount of dexterity on their part. As the sprayer nears the end of a series of staggered rows in an irregularly shaped field, the system turns sections of the spray boom off as they run out of row.

“Our research shows an overall reduction of at least 5 percent of the input costs when using Swath Control Pro and AutoTrac on John Deere sprayers, says Craig Weynand, division marketing manager, sprayers. “The 4720 and 4920 Sprayers with Swath Control Pro will take spraying operations to new levels of productivity.”

He said Swath Control Pro is currently available only for John Deere 4720 and 4920 Sprayers equipped with GreenStar 2 systems. Systems for older model sprayers are being developed now and will be available later this year.

“Swath Control Pro will have a positive environmental impact when applying product with John Deere sprayers,” says Weynand. “And with integrated AMS solutions such as AutoTrac, Variable Rate Technologies and Apex Farm Management Software, John Deere offers a complete array of spraying technology for producers wanting more efficiency in their operations.”

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