More Courseplay

While the Courseplay mod is perhaps the one mod I almost could not live without, it is not without its share of issues which lead to frustrations “Down on Jerry’s Farm”.  Several weeks ago I provided a somewhat detailed review of the Courseplay Mod and pointed out some of the issues which we all must deal with if you desire to use this wonderful mod.  Yes, I do use the words wonderful, extraordinary etc. to describe this mod at the best of times.

As you know by reading some of my recent blog postings, I’m currently playing on the Ringwoods Farm map.  I truly love this map and even with all the trees, fences and gates….Courseplay does a pretty darn good job managing the tasks I assign to it.  Or should I say, the Courseplay hired workers do a pretty good job managing the tasks assigned to them.  With almost every field owned and planted on this map, there is no way I could keep up with the demand without Courseplay.

In the earlier posting I touched on the issues we all experience when using Courseplay.  I don’t fault Courseplay (or the brilliant development team behind the CP mod) from running a tractor/tipper into a tree from time to time.  After all, Courseplay only knows the interior dimensions of the fields.  It does not know the proximity of fences and gates to the field.   Likewise, Courseplay is not something one can simply setup, start and leave unattended with 100% results each and every time.  At least not with all functions/tasks.   But before I proceed further, allow me to provide some information on how I’m using the Courseplay mod, what works really well and what challenges I face.

What I use Courseplay for?

For the most part, I’m only using a small percentage of the overall Courseplay functionality.   While I realize CP can (and will) do much, much more…I simply just haven’t incorporated everything into my farming practices at this time as it has never been my intention to fully automate my farm.

While the role I play “Down on Jerry’s Farm” is the owner and boss of the farming enterprise, I’m still very much willing and enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty.  So at the present time I’m using Courseplay to handle the process of moving the silage down at the BGA and also moving silage in a small bunker near my dairy cows.  Courseplay also handles the transport of grains and fruits from my main storage silos to market.  Courseplay also handles field work tasks like cultivating, sowing and harvesting.

What Courseplay does well?

The movement of silage down at the BGA is without a doubt the best work Courseplay does “Down on Jerry’s Farm”.  Considering the ROI (Return on Investment) benefit of selling silage down at the BGA, CP (and the fine workers) do this task very, very well.  Even paying the hourly wage (which I do), it is money very well spent and provides nice profit.  Review this blog article I wrote a few weeks ago about “Getting Rich Quick”.   If you want to generate some cold, hard cash and do it quickly then remember this equation of Corn –> Chaff –> Silage = $$$$ down at the BGA.

In addition to the movement of silage, CP handles the movement of all my grains and fruits from storage silos to market without any issue (most of the time).  Oh, a few times I left a tractor parked in the middle of the main farm yard which blocked the path of my truck/trailer rig…but that is a self inflicted problem and not the fault of Courseplay.

Finally, I would give CP solid marks on how it handles the cultivating and sowing tasks I assign it.   While I did mention that Courseplay was not really designed to be setup, activated and forgotten about.  The tasks which I’ve just described, CP will perform them until YOU stop it or until the work is completed.  Unless of course you forget you’ve parked a tractor in the path.

Courseplay Struggles

Again, I’m fully aware that Courseplay is not designed to be setup, activated and forgotten about to operate a process without any guidance or supervision.  This is where our role of farm owner/boss comes into play.  Like I described earlier, I am the owner of my farm.  The Courseplay function is really just driving the employees I’ve hired to assist with the tasks on the farm.  As owner and boss, it is my responsibility to make sure these workers are doing what they should be doing.  However…

Courseplay will simply struggle with regards to the occasional collision between tractor/tipper and a tree, fence or gate.  As I’ve already stated, Courseplay only knows the interior dimensions of each field.  CP does not know how close a tree, fence or gate is to the field so therefore the occasional collision will happen.  The best solution to assist in avoiding these collisions is to setup the combine to harvest at least two headland cuts.   Depending on the header size, this should provide ample room for your tractor/tipper setup to maneuver without coming into contact with an obstacle.  Another suggestion is to slow down the tractor/tipper setup.  With the overall drive physics being what they are in FS2015, slowing the tractor/tipper down to a field speed of 15-18 mph will help tremendously.

But wait….there are more struggles and unfortunately I can’t really understand why they occur.

Collisions between combine and tractor

I simply just can’t understand why this occurs.  From my limited understanding of how CP handles the harvest function, I believe CP fully knows where the combine is (and with precision) on the field.  Likewise, I believe CP knows where the tractor/tipper is (how else do they interact with each other) so why the occasional collision?  As I somewhat described the combine and tractor/tipper relationship in my earlier blog posting by referring to the combine as the master or boss, there really should never be any collision between the two of them.  The combine knows where it is within the course of the field and the two should be able to steer clear of any collision between them.

Spinning round and round and round (tractor and tipper)

I often notice the tractor/tipper just doing donuts in the middle of my fields.  Round and round they go, without any purpose or plan until I stop them.  In each and every example this occurs (and this occurs fairly regularly) the combine is less than 50 feet away and is stopped.  The very best I can figure out is the tractor/tipper continues to circle in an attempt to lock onto the GPS coordinate which would allow it to pull alongside the combine.  While I understand this, why doesn’t CP intervene at some point and send the tractor/tipper on a slightly different course then redirect it back in again?  Of course, keeping in mind the location of the stationary combine to avoid any collision.

Distance and Line of Sight Issue

I’ve perhaps saved the best for last.  The very best I can understand the possible issue is a distance and/or line of sight issue between combine and tractor/tipper.  I mostly see this issue on the larger fields.  The tractor/tipper and combine have been working together just fine.  At some point the combine instructs the tractor/tipper to wait (it’s not full yet) and the combine continues to do its thing.  Then as the combine and tractor/tipper are almost at opposite ends of the field, the combine issues the “drive now” command to the tractor, but the tractor just sits and sits and sits and sits.  Eventually the combine is full and it stops.  But without intervention from me, the two will never come together again.

Again, the best I can understand is perhaps there is a issue with the distance or line of sight and the two (combine and tractor) lose their connection to each other.  I really wouldn’t think either distance or line of sight would be a limitation for Courseplay.

Could it all be user inflicted (User Error)?

ABSOLUTELY!!!!  However, before I take all the blame on these problems let me just say that I’ve seen many YouTube videos created by many virtual farmers who know a lot more about Courseplay than I do and they all seem to have one or more of these problems from time to time.  Also, again I’m not looking for Courseplay to do all my farming work while I sleep or do other things away from the PC.  I’m merely wish, hope, desire for Courseplay to be able to function in the areas I just mentioned without glitching.

Am I alone?  Are my expectations set just too high?  Is Courseplay useless as is?

Again, no I don’t think I’m alone.  I follow a few virtual farmers on YouTube who frequently create content from their farming adventures and in many of these videos I’ve seen their activities (when using Courseplay) wig out just as I’ve described.

Regarding expectations?  I don’t think I (or anyone else) would think our expectations are set too high for these things to work correctly.  I’ve stated several times in this article that I don’t blame CP when my tractor crashes into a fence on the edge of my field.  I fully understand that this is outside of the control of Courseplay.  However, the other situations (combine and tractor collisions in middle of field, spinning round and round and the distance/line of sight scenarios) I believe are in the control of Courseplay and I sincerely hope these issues can be fixed.

Finally, is Courseplay useless as it currently stands?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  I repeat….Courseplay is a wonderful mod and I really couldn’t or wouldn’t enjoy Farming Simulator 2015 as much as I do without it.

In closing, this blog article is not my way of “having a go” at the authors/developers of Courseplay.  Likewise, it is not my attempt to discredit their hard work and dedication to the hobby.  I’m simply pointing out some of the issues I’ve experienced mainly in the hope of helping anyone else who may encounter the same problems understand that they are not alone.  I understand the authors/developers of Courseplay are taking a short break.  Hobbies must always come after real world commitments and I certainly don’t fault them for needing to slow things down.  I certainly hope they continue to develop and enhance Courseplay.  I for one would really love to see the issues I’ve discussed today get resolved.  I also would love to see something like “Follow Me” added to Courseplay.  While I know a separate mod exists, I would like to see that functionality built into Courseplay.  If for no other reason then in aiding in moving a combine and a tractor/tipper (or two) from one location to another.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog postings.  Please share the blog URL with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.  Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

JT

Fertilize those Fields

Another Farming Simulator 2015 game tip.  This post is primarily geared to those playing either the default maps (Bjornholm or Westbridge Hills) or any other map where the soil mod hasn’t been incorporated.  For me personally, I have yet to experiment with the soil mod, but it is something I’m interested in when the right map comes along.

Just like in real life conditions, our virtual farm fields need extra nutrients to grow crops.  For those starting out in the game you have a few different options to consider.  All fertilizing options do the exact same thing with regards to crop yield and there is no benefit to using more than one method on the same field.  In other words, using two or more different types of fertilizer will not further increase the crop yield.  But simply applying one fertilizer option will double your crop yield versus not using fertilizer at all. Bottom line…fertilizing is a MUST down on the farm!

Before we get started breaking down the different types of fertilizer and the equipment needed for the job, allow me to briefly explain what crops can be fertilized.  This will be easy and is best said that all crops with exception to grass can be fertilized to increase their yield.  If you are going to plant a field (or already have a field planted) in grass, no fertilizer type will aid in the growth or yield produced.  This is unfortunate, but it just just how Giants developed the game.  So fertilize everything else (wheat, barley, canola, corn etc. etc.) but don’t waste your time, money and fuel to place fertilizer (any type) on grass as it will not make any difference.

Finally, let’s briefly discuss when to fertilize.  Which ever type of fertilizer you decide to use (see below) the time to fertilize will more or less be the same.  Applying fertilizer can be done either before sowing or anytime after sowing up to the final growth stage.  I typically apply fertilizer immediately after sowing/planting.  You’ll easily be able to tell where you’ve applied fertilizer as the soil will be slightly darker in appearance.

Types of Fertilizer

For the default maps (again Bjornholm and Westbridge) you basically have three options to choose from regarding the types of fertilizer you have available to use.  These are granular or powder type fertilizer, liquid fertilizer and finally manure.  You know….the byproduct from the cows.  However, in the very initial stages of game play….we really must rule out the option of using manure.  Manure (both solid and liquid) most certainly can be used as fertilizer and the cost for the fertilizer itself will be free….but again in the early stages of game play you simply will not have enough available to do the job.  In addition, as I’ve described in a recent blog post regarding “Compost…Another Lucrative Business” you may be better off selling both the liquid manure and solid manure versus using it as fertilizer.

Granular Fertilizer

Of the three fertilizer types, the white granular fertilizer is the easiest to apply to your fields.  The Amazone ZA-M 1501 with a 3,000 liter capacity is generally supplied as starting equipment on the default maps of Bjornholm and Westbridge Hills.  This spreader can be mounted to any three point hitch and has a wide coverage of 26,0m.  As you accumulate more wealth, the pull-behind Amazone ZG-B 8200 model should most certainly be considered as the capacity more than doubles to 8,200 liters.

Liquid Fertilizer

Just a reminder, this blog posting is geared to those playing the default maps or any other map where the soil mod hasn’t been applied.   The soil mod does change how fertilizer and other soil treatments are applied for optimum results.  For the purpose of this blog article, we are strictly discussing maps where the soil mod is not in place.

The process for applying liquid fertilizer is much the same as the granular type.  However, different equipment is used.  In the default “in-game” store you’ll find the Amazone UF 1801 sprayer.  This sprayer is designed to mount on the rear of the tractor.  An additional storage take can be purchased which mounts to the front of the tractor.  The main rear mounted sprayer when unfolded has a working width of 24,0m.  This can become a challenge on maps with smaller fields or those with fences, gates and trees near by.  Again, there is no advantage to using liquid over granular.  They both provide the same yield when applied to the field.

Manure

As previously stated, the use of manure for fertilizing purposes in the early stages of farming really isn’t an option.   First, the cost of the equipment is considerably more expensive than the spreader or sprayers.  Second, the amount required to cover even a small field will be more than what can be made from a few head of dairy cows.  Unfortunately, of the three default livestock (chickens, dairy cows and sheep) only the dairy cows produce manure.   But as you grow your farming empire and add more and more dairy cows…the manure will start to pile up (literally) and can most certainly be used as fertilizer.

Manure is essentially broken down into two types.  Solid manure and liquid manure or slurry.  Both types (along with granular and liquid fertilizer) when applied by itself will double the crop yield.  Remember, the best we can do is double the yield.  Applying all available fertilizer types is only wasting time, fuel and money and will not increase the yield beyond double.

The in-game equipment for both solid manure and liquid slurry will work well in applying to the field.  The cost of the equipment is in proportion of the capacity.  In the case of slurry, a large 55,000 liter capacity storage trailer can be used to store slurry near the field to decrease the travel time to refill.

Just as a reminder, consider reading the blog article I wrote a few weeks ago titled “Compost – Another Lucrative Business”.  This may get you thinking about better ways of using manure and slurry to increase your income versus using it for fertilizer.

In closing, regardless if you are just starting out or have been farming in your virtual world for some time, there really is no excuse not to fertilize.  I hope this article has provided you the information you need to make the decisions on what type of fertilizer to use and the equipment required to perform the job.  “Down on Jerry’s Farm” I use the white granular fertilizer and own both the three point hitch  mounted spreader and the pull-behind model.

Until next time…

Happy Farming!!!

Jerry

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