Tiny camera could prevent big collision

What’s the biggest improvement Dennis Carnahan made for the 2011 crop season? Was it a new planter? Maybe a different tractor? Or perhaps it was add-on equipment for his planter to help him do a better job?

The answer is “none of the above,” says Dennis, who farms with his brother, Ross, and son, John, near Vincennes. “It’s a tiny camera we installed on the back of our air seeder,” he says instead. They use the air seeder, spaced on 10-inch rows, to plant soybeans.

Key Points

An inexpensive camera gives you an extra set of eyes.

Choose from normal or mirror-type view.

Images display on same screen used for precision operations.

The camera was relatively inexpensive, Dennis says, especially compared to the safety benefit of being able to see behind him. “We have to travel on and cross Highway 50,” he says. The large east-west road connects Washington and Vincennes.

“It can be scary to be pulling that seeder and need to make a left turn across the highway,” he explains. “I want to be able to see those coal trucks coming up behind me. Now I can.”

Broad view

The camera sends a picture to the tractor cab. The picture displays on the same Greenstar III screen that the Carnahans use for other precision farming functions. That way, they still only need one display screen in the cab. “I really don’t like to clutter up the cab with a bunch of boxes,” Dennis observes.

The camera can deliver a clear, wide-angle shot from behind the seeder, or it can also function as a mirror. In that mode, you see what you would see in a rear-view mirror.

This is the first camera the Carnahans have installed, but likely won’t be the last. John explains that the display can handle the feed from up to three cameras. The next one will likely go on the grain cart.

“You’ve got this big box behind you and you can’t see around it,” Dennis says. “Having a camera to let me see what’s going on would really help.”

His equipment stands out when on the roadway

A camera giving him better vision isn’t the only thing Dennis Carnahan does to increase his odds of traveling roadways with farm machinery safely. He’s adopted an idea from overseas and installed it on his motorized equipment that travels on the road.

“European tractors and equipment often have a rotating light on the cab instead of just flashing lights,” Carnahan says. It provides a light that motorists tend to see.

After he installed it on his equipment, he’s convinced he’s more visible to motorists. “There’s just something about the rotating light that tends to catch your attention better than flashing lights,” he concludes.


Small but mighty: The small camera tucked on the back of this air seeder provides a wide view behind the implement to the operator in the cab.

This article published in the June, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.