July 3, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments
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.
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…
June 17, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments
I’m slowly in the process of starting up a new map adventure using the much talked about States v6 map. States v6 is only available from American Eagles Modding and you must be a member (it is free to join) in order to download the map. I’m not about to give up on Ringwoods Farm, but as I’ve been farming Ringwoods for the past month or so and before that had been farming the default Westbridge Hills (Ringwoods is based on Westbridge but mucho better), I felt I needed a change. So I have been looking at map alternatives and set about defining a few requirements.
First, while I have nothing against maps based in the UK, Europe etc. I really wanted to stick with a USA based map. Second, while I truly love the challenge of all the fences, gates and trees in Ringwoods…I also wanted to find a map with less fencing and gates. Third, I’m really not into the logging/forestry aspect of the game…so my map selection could certainly exclude this and I would be OK. Finally, after farming on Ringwoods and getting spoiled to some of the “bells and whistles” such as conveyors and the mixing station mod, I was looking for a map where these types of features were already built in. I also wanted the ability to raise pigs, beef and chickens for market and wanted the variety of the additional fruit types (cotton, oats, sunflower, soybeans and sorghum). I had heard about States a few weeks ago and with the recent release of version 6, I decided to give it a try.
Some fine print before I proceed. I’ve been watching a few YouTube videos regarding the soil mod. I also printed off all the documentation I could find on this mod. I’ll be honest and say upfront that I’m perhaps more confused after reading it than I was before hand. I’ve decided to leave out the soil mod (for now) and just spend some time learning the new map and farming at my pace without the needed worry about pH levels and those dreaded weeds. But understand, I said the same thing about the PMDG aircraft a few years ago. I said they were too complex to learn etc. Both the PMDG 737, 777 and 747 are some of my favorite aircraft and I rarely fly anything other than these aircraft. So having said that, I will eventually experiment with the soil mod and I’ll learn it and when I do, I’ll share it all here in this blog. But for now, I’ve left the soil mod out of States v6.
The States v6 map is a large map. It features wide open spaces and really is designed for BIG equipment and lots of it. It includes all the features I had desired in a new map and even some new features to try out. From the start you own four fields (1, 5, 6 and 9). Fields 6 and 9 are planted with wheat and soybean. The map is also pre-populated with 250 dairy cows and 100 sheep.
As I just stated, States v6 is HUGE. You start off with a lot of equipment including four New Holland Combines (CR10.90) with the BIG 45’ headers. You also get three New Holland T8.435’s (Trax models) along with one NH T9.565 and the massive Case Quadtrac 620 (which I sold). You also get mowers, tippers, loading wagons, wheel loader, fertilizer spreaders, sprayers, baler…and more. I ended up selling the mowers, baler and a few other pieces of equipment so I could afford the Krone Big M500 mower mod from OEB Modding. With three large fields pre-planted in grass, I wanted something with a wide working width and the Big M500 will row the grass. This will save both time and effort.
On day 1, I used Courseplay to get the Krone Big M500 cutting grass. I split the initial grass harvest between getting the cows and sheep fed and moved about 200,000 liters to the silage bunker just next to the cows. I already compacted and have it fermenting. The rest of the grass will be moved to the BGA. Also, I put one of the four combines to work in field 6 harvesting wheat and moving the straw to storage. Just as soon as the grass has fermented into silage, I’ll have all I need to mix up the first batch of TMR. The way I figure, as I already have 250 dairy cows I need to get them producing at 110% ASAP to take advantage of increased milk production as well as manure and slurry. While I don’t plan to use either as fertilizer, both can be sold to help increase my available cash.
I’m also seriously thinking about selling two of the four combines and headers. It may be some time before I can actually get all four combines working with enough tractors/tippers to support them. I really need to generate enough cash to purchase the Krone BigX and get a field of corn planted to cut as chaff to send to the BGA. Selling silage at the BGA is a quick way of generating a lot of income in a relatively short period of time. You can read my blog article titled Getting Rich Quick on Ringwoods Farm which very much applies to States v6 as well. I may also try out theRental Mod as well for a few pieces of equipment until I can get enough available cash. We’ll see how it goes…
Until next time…
May 29, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments
In the initial stages of building your farming empire, grass will be a key element. Most maps provide an almost endless supply and you’ll need to quickly get started mowing in order to provide feed to sheep and dairy cows. In addition, you may want to cut grass to kick start your silage making process. Finally, cut grass does have value and a loading wagon full will bring you some quick cash for a little bit of effort. But after some time you might want to consider corn as the better silage producing solution especially if you plan to keep a large population of livestock on the farm.
But regardless, mowing grass will always be a task you’ll need to routinely do if you plan to raise livestock. Your sheep population will work at 110% with grass and water. But your dairy cattle will need a little more than just grass and water to get them up to 110% production. Actually…a lot more! You’ll need the important TMR or total mixed ration. In terms of Farming Simulator 2015, TMR is a mix of hay, straw and silage. You can use the “in game” mixing wagons to load your hay and straw bales along with silage. From what I’ve read in the forums, the mixture is typically one bale of hay, one bale of straw and four buckets of silage.
If you are playing on the Ringwoods Farm map (like I am) or have installed one of the placeable mixing station mods, then all you really need to do is fill the mixing station and it will mix and portion the correct blend of materials to make TMR. The mixing station which is pre-installed on the Ringwoods Farm map (there are two) will hold 50,000 liters of hay, straw and silage. A full station easily supports my 75 dairy cows and 25 calves with much to spare.
As I use these mixing stations to support my growing livestock population, I do not need to bale hay or straw. I typically will pickup the straw from my wheat and barley harvests and store that material in my large shed. In addition, I grow most of my corn for chaff production and will send a portion to the BGA bunker and the other half to my south farm bunker to ferment into silage. But of course I still need a steady supply of hay for TMR.
As I said at the top of the blog posting, there is an almost endless supply of grass on most maps. Most fields will have fairly large borders of grass and mowing the grass areas along side the roads is also a great idea. I routinely drive a tractor with a front mounted mower pulling the small Euroboss pickup wagon. However, I also have a small field planted in grass. This field is located near my cow farm and on average will yield about 60,000 liters of grass or hay.
Using the windrower to gather up the grass for easy pickup.
Now what I’m going to tell you next was learned somewhat by accident. I had been mowing this field every day in order to build up a stockpile of hay. I would cut the grass, tedder the grass to turn it into hay, rake the hay into windrows with the windrower and then finally collect it with my large loading wagon. But one day after I mowed, I got distracted with harvesting cotton and sunflower and failed to finish the rest of the steps. Once I completed the rest of the tasks on the farm it was getting near dark so I bumped up the time to fast forward to the next day. As the sun was rising on my brand new day I set out to complete my usual tasks. Low and behold, I realized I had left cut grass on field 10 and new grass had of course grown. Of course, this is what would happen in real life.
The large 50,000 liter loading wagon makes quick work in picking up grass, hay or straw.
I climbed into my tractor and mowed field 10, I then ran the tedder over it, raked it and picked up the hay. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the yield had almost doubled from 60,000 on a single cut to 99,356 liters with the double cut. Considering it takes the same amount of time to tedder and rake the field regardless if it’s been cut once or twice and only slightly longer (due to more trips to dump the grass/hay) this seems to be an easy way to almost double the yield.
Dumping grass to add to my growing stockpile of grass/hay, straw and silage.
I haven’t tested if I cut the grass each day for three days, four days or five days if the yield will continue to increase. But if I don’t have time to cut, rake and gather one day…I do typically mow and then will mow again the next day and complete the process. This of course would likely NOT be the process in real life. But then again this is just our virtual farming world and what ever we decide to make of it.
I hope you enjoy this tip and I hope it helps you. Thanks for reading!
Until next time…
P.S. I did conduct another test where I mowed field 10 for five consecutive days (around the same time each day) then I ran the tedder over it, raked it and picked up the hay. The result of this test was only 100,156 liters of hay which is only slightly more than the two day test I had conducted last week. So unfortunately instead of getting five times the yield, I still only received two times the yield. This end result probably best illustrates actual real-life results where the cut grass would eventually impede the growth of new grass. Bottom line: You can certainly cut the grass the first day then cut the second day again (or second growth cycle) then tedder, rake and pickup and receive the extra yield for slightly less work. But any more than twice is just wasted effort on the part of mowing. You won’t get any benefit from it.
May 26, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments
In addition to all the new fruit types available on the Ringwoods map, the ability to create compost and sell it can add up the virtual dollars, pounds, euros etc. in the old bank account. A few blog postings ago, I shared “How to get rich quick” using the Ringwoods map. The beauty of the Ringwoods map is at the very beginning you have just under 1 million dollars in equipment available to you. As I pointed out in the blog article, all this equipment is in the “free and clear”. You can sell it to generate some quick cash to then re-invest in different equipment. Go read the “How to get rich quick” using the Ringwoods map for all the details.
Once you find yourself with a few dairy cows and you’ve invested the effort in stockpiling all you need to sustain them for a while, their byproduct (along with a few other things) can all be hauled up to the CMC Composting Plant to be turned into compost. Once the compost is ready (the machine does all the work) you then just backup your tipper and haul it to the sell point (located behind the Garden Center). Unlike the Chaff –> Silage –> to $$$ process which requires you to move the silage from the BGA bunkers to the silage receptor, the compost process is much less complicated. Also, unlike the previously mentioned BGA process, all you really need to complete the task is a tractor and tipper. I’d recommend picking up the Kroeger Trailer Pack. This trailer pack mod was created by Stevie (developer of the Ringwoods map). These trailers will haul anything and everything you’ll need to start your compost business. Also, while you are grabbing trailer mods. Go ahead and pickup the Kotte Universal Pack (by Farmer Andy) These tankers will carry any liquid (water, fertilizer, fuel, liquid manure) around your farm. More about the tankers in just a minute.
Again, once you are a little more established with your farming empire and have several dairy cows (beefs, pigs and fattening chickens help as well) they will start to produce both solid manure and liquid manure. Now I realize that both can also be used as fertilizer. However, as the game doesn’t really care what type of fertilizer is used on the fields and manure (both types) require a very large amount to cover even the smallest of fields, I simply prefer to use the other fertilizer methods. Again, you can (and should) harvest the solid manure from all your animals and haul it to the CMC Composting Plant. I tend to do this once I have accumulated a trailer full (45,000).
Dumping a load of solid manure at the CMC Compost Plant.
The manure is moved into the large mixing station to be further processed into compost.
A fully automated process. Just dump and go.
Next, as I have time I use my large 50,000 liter loading wagon to pickup the straw from my wheat and barley harvests and I stockpile a few hundred thousand liters in my silo. So for every trailer full of solid manure, I also transport a full wagon of straw to the CMC Compost Plant. However, the CMC Compost Plant will accept potato, sugarbeet, chaff, silage, grass, straw, woodchips and manure. While I haven’t calculated it all out, I’m guessing for my operations….everything but manure is much more valuable to sell or use than turning into compost.
As I previously stated, the CMC Composting Plant is much more of a friendly process than the BGA. The Ringwoods Compost plant has a backup ramp to tip/offload both the straw and solid manure and on the other side you simply pull your tipper under and the newly created compost will pour right into the trailer.
Once the mixture is turned into compost, just pull up and the plant will offload into your tipper.
A full load of compost being delivered to the sell point located directly behind the Garden Center.
Normally speaking, compost may not make you a millionaire all by itself. However, considering the process as I’ve described in using manure and straw where the only cost to you is gathering it and transporting it to the CMC Compost Plant, the average value is around $516 per ton. But if you time it right, you may catch a high demand scenario where it could be worth a lot more. Recently the Garden Center was paying 1.6 times during a 24 hour high demand situation. This meant for every 45,000 liter load I moved from the CMC Compost Plant to the Garden Center I earned about $23,000 per load. Not a bad payout considering.
Finally, if you are playing the Ringwoods Farm map don’t forget you have a manure selling point located at the BGA Plant. This is where I haul my liquid manure using the Kotte Universal Packtanker trailers. These really nice tankers will transport a variety of liquid types including fuel, water, fertilizer and of course liquid manure. I don’t exactly recall just how much a tanker full of liquid manure will net you. But again…considering all you need to do is pump it from your storage facility to the sell point. The money is too easy to turn down. Every penny counts in your farming empire.
I hope this information helps you and you’ll return again soon.
Until next time…