Sabatanto, an Ames, Iowa custom autonomous farming company has announced a “stretch goal” to plant 10,000 acres of soybeans in 2019 using “supervised” autonomous tractors, according to a March 6 report in the Duluth News Tribune.

Craig Rupp, CEO of the company, according to the report, “has a track record in high tech ag business, spoke to more than 100 attendees at a 1 Million Cups event in Fargo on March 6. The 1 Million Cups event is hosted by Fargo tech company Emerging Prairie.

Rupp said he’ll be operating his farming service from Texas to Canada. “We have the acres lined up and we’re going to go out this spring and see how much trouble we can get into,” he said.

The report went on to say, “Rupp and partner Kyler Laird, created Sabanto in October 2018. (‘Sabanto” is a Japanese word for “servant.’)

He said farm tractors are like expensive sports cars — both costing a fortune and both underutilized. Rupp has concluded that “farm equipment is the most expensive, widespread, underutilized capital there ever was.” He figures that if it can be used to autonomously custom-plant acres starting in the southern U.S. and moving north, the utilization could increase 10 times — from 3% of a year to 30%.

He envisions that a custom autonomous farming system could be provided on-demand, something like FedEx, which owns trucks and airplanes but is neither a trucking company or airline.

Read the full report here