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Farmers and ranchers get hands-on look at hands-free steering


Curious about the latest in autosteering technology, more than a dozen farmers and ranchers gathered recently at Hemphill Ranch to experience the Wheelman, a smart autosteering device, firsthand. It was all part of the first-ever AgJunction Wheelman Field Day in Susanville, California.

Throughout the day, farmers and ranchers saw how smart autosteering works for cutting hay and dragging pastures. Here is some of what they got to experience:

Cutting Hay

In a 40-acre field, event host, Jeff Hemphill welcomed attendees to ride with him in his tractor, as he used the Wheelman to cut hay with a pivot, an implement that rolls with a circular movement throughout the field. Attendees were impressed with how straight the lines were as the hay was cut. Said one farmer, “I could see this system helping out a lot. I can just look in my mirror and I don’t really have to touch anything because it’s already set up where it’s supposed to go.”

Dragging Pastures

In another area, participants were invited to ride along as the Wheelman was used for pasture management. This specifically involved dragging pastures, in which an implement is used to remove parasites and rejuvenate the soil. During this demonstration, attendees learned how to set a contour, or a curved line path. Once the contour is set, the Wheelman ensures every pass after that will be identical to the first contour across the whole field.

wheelman autosteer
Image courtesy of Wheelman


Farmers and ranchers also learned about how to install and calibrate the Wheelman device and the Whirl, the first smart autosteering mobile app that also serves as a display. Following the demonstration, those in attendance were all in agreement that the Wheelman device and Whirl app are easy to install and use, compared to other autosteering systems.


Hemphill indicated the Wheelman saves him several hours each week in a variety of tasks including planting grain, managing pastures and feeding cows.

“That’s huge for a rancher or farmer because there is always something else that needs to be done. If you can save two hours per cutting, seeding, or anything like that and start another project sooner, that’s much better. That kind of savings has been a godsend for us,” said Nancy Hemphill, Jeff’s wife and the event’s co-host.


Farmers and ranchers also took note of how affordable the Wheelman is compared to other autosteering systems. For younger farmers, farmers with less than 250 acres, the more affordable it is, it’s an even better investment. Said one farmer, “The Wheelman will be a big money saver. It’s definitely something, even a small guy, especially a young guy like me, it’s something that might actually be useful.”

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