Farmer’s Weekly Publication
Publication: Farmer’s Weekly
Date: 21 January 2011
Tractor firms may have been slow to start offering security systems, but 2011 looks like being the year they start to take theft seriously.
Every year, in the UK alone, an estimated £50-70m of plant and agricultural machinery is stolen but only 5% is recovered. And farm machinery theft is on the rise.
McCormick and Landini started the ball rolling last year by offering the Datatag/CESAR tagging and registration system on new tractors at no extra cost, followed a few months later by John Deere. This system involves fitting the tractor with coded identification microdots that cannot be seen by thieves but can be read by police forces with the right equipment. There’s also an almost-impossible-to-remove sticker that shows the tractor has been tagged and the vehicle is also put on the CESAR database.
High-tech GPS trackers are also becoming increasingly available. New Holland has just announced a deal with Tracker whereby UK dealer dealers will offer the company’s GPS tracking system to farmers. Between June 2009 and July 2010, Tracker recovered more than £3.5m-worth of stolen plant and farming equipment in the UK.
Tracker is unusual in using a VHF signal to allow police forces to track stolen vehicles, although it offers combined VHF and GPS systems to give the maximum chance of finding them.
Massey Ferguson has also announced that it will offer the CESAR registration and Datatag scheme through its dealer network. It offers a new vehicle immobiliser too, which uses an electro-mechanically controlled valve to shut off the fuel system and lock the hydraulics. To activate the system, operators use either a touch key-fob or tap a PIN number into a keypad. Its new AgCommand telematics system, announced at this week’s LAMMA show, also means it offers a way of tracking vehicles by GPS and transmitting information over a mobile phone network.
There are some new names coming to the agriculture-oriented GPS tracker sector too. The latest is the Agri-Track Sentry, being launched at LAMMA. Thanks to a battery that is said to last for three years, the device can be attached to any equipment or machinery without requiring access to an on-board power supply.
If the equipment is then either moved at a time when its owner has decided it should be out of use, or if it is taken outside a specific area (such as the owner’s farm), the Agri-Track Sentry will wake up and immediately alert the owner by mobile phone or email, notify a 24/7 alert centre and track the location of the equipment so it can be recovered quickly and easily.
The device costs £495, which includes the first year’s subscription to the GPS service and access to a web interface for customising the device’s alert settings and tracking it in the event that it is stolen. Subscription is £199 a year thereafter. The device can also be set up by text message, or by using web-enabled smartphones.