Functions “without a driver” fall on agricultural fields in various forms Southern Idaho Agriculture News

Aaron Wiener

Two years ago at the Iowa Ag Expo automation was a hot topic. It was expected that the use of technology to optimize processes and even build tractors without a driver would play a big role in agriculture in the coming years.

According to some, such a future has come.

“It’s absolutely here,” said Josh Crimins, a spokesman for Raven Industries, a precision farming company. “Technology is here, and it’s no longer just a buzzword. Autonomous technologies are here. ”

Crimins said unmanned vehicles operate in the fields across the Corn Belt and in Canada, using sets of maps and routes to do the work for the farmer. Currently, technology is used that allows farmers to control grain carts without leaving the combine.

For farmers who may be reluctant or unable to switch to fully autonomous machinery once it becomes available, he said some of the features would still be desirable.

“Things like Driver Assist, you’ll still have an applicator or someone in the cab, but they take on the burden of just leaving the operator and allowing him to take on a more managerial position,” Crimins said.

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However, the goal of a clear hearth is to help the farmer, not to replace the farmer, said Bret Buhler of Ag Leader. He said these companies know how personal and important work is for most farmers and they don’t want to snatch control from anyone’s hands.

“We don’t take it upon ourselves, it’s not our attention,” Buhler said.

“This means that farmers who want to expand and increase productivity can do so without having to invest more staff if they are hard to find. People are looking for (automated) technology, but most farmers are engaged in farming because they love to do it. Most of them don’t want to sit on top of a hill and watch a tractor drive. We are focused on helping them make decisions in the cabin. ”

He said the automotive industry is a good example of how this type of technology will be used in the future.

“Full automation may be the way it goes, but it only hits the car industry,” Buhler said. “In general, the agricultural industry will lag behind the automotive industry by about 10 years. That’s a good indication of when we’ll see it. “

Ted Schmidt of Precision Planting echoed these sentiments. He said people are showing much more interest in technologies that have become popular in recent car models such as electric drives. He said it would change the look of some cars.

“All the mechanical stuff, bearings, chains and flexible shafts and this whole manual drive system, which is so bulky and so many parts, is driven by a 12 volt motor,” he said. “Now in some planters it’s just a bundle of wires.”

While autonomy and ease of use are important, Schmidt said farmers are always looking for more control, especially when planting. Many farmers do not have the ability to take direct measurements during field passes and set up on the go. He said it was important to close that gap and give farmers more control out of the cab.

“We’re a company that feels and it’s a lack of control from the industry,” Schmidt said. “To go faster, you need to drive at a much better and higher level, and your measurements need to be much more accurate.”

The future of surveillance could come in the form of cameras on equipment, Schmidt said. Farmers will be able to monitor plant height, what types of weeds are in the field and how much herbicide will be needed if they pass through the strips. This allows you to use resources more efficiently and effectively, which will add profitability.

He said the cameras will be able to keep the sprays on the track as they descend in rows.

“If you go down and start running in a row, you will destroy 100 plants,” Schmidt said. “You can get it back, but if I lose one ear for every thousandth of an acre, it will be 1,000 ears per acre. That’s a loss of 7 bushels. “ Functions “without a driver” fall on agricultural fields in various forms Southern Idaho Agriculture News

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