A Precision Farming Dealer Staff Report

The first question tackled in this roundtable discussion was “What is autonomy?” Initially the group would have thought of driverless tractors completing tasks in the fields without an operator in the field.

But after hearing a presentation the previous evening from Kraig Schulz, CEO and president of Autonomous Tractor Corp., perceptions of autonomy diverted to more of a task oriented autonomy allowing operators to be free to focus on other things while still in the cab of the tractor.

Things such as variable-rate control and automatic boom shut off are automated features that offer the “driver” opportunity to put their attention to monitoring and managing the process rather than having to conduct each process. OEM’s are not expected to be the ones driving autonomy although we have seen autonomous vehicles prototypes from Case IH and John Deere. 

Rather, the group agreed aftermarket companies are likely to be the drivers that will prove the technology that will eventually be adopted by the OEM’s through acquisition or other means.  

The biggest obstacles to putting autonomy in the field are legislation, affordability and liability. “Fully autonomous vehicles and electric powered vehicles may not make their way into the ag realm quickly,” says Seth Conway, precision specialist with Monroe Tractor, who moderated the roundtable. “However, they will have an effect on ag dealers and the challenges to which we need to adapt. It may not necessarily be our problem right this second, but we better train for it for the future of our companies.” 

Read full coverage of the Precision Farming Dealer Summit presentations, from how to recruit and retain precision employees, to developing a standalone precision business, to managing customers’ data, in the March 2017 issue of Farm Equipment.



Roundtable Discussion Topics

1. Precision Peer Groups: Your External Support Network
2. Tips, Tricks & Tactics for Selling Data Management Service
3. Does My Precision Ag Business Need to Have a CRM?
4. Putting on a Successful Precision Ag Field Day
5. Market Corrections: Lessons Learned During the Downturn
6. UAVs: Ready for Takeoff? Or a Grounded Technology?
7. Aftermarket Opportunities: What am I Missing?
8. Where Can I Find My Next Precision Hire?
9. Bundling Service: What to Include & How to Price
10. Better Advice for Selling RTK Subscriptions
11. Probing the Moisture Sensor & Water Management Market
12. 7 Considerations for Succession Planning for a Precision Farming Business
13. Autonomy in Ag: What Role Will I Play? (currently viewing)
14. Bridging the Hardware Gap: Adding Agronomic Services