AGCO, Case IH and John Deere jumped at the chance to address elite precision dealers during the first ever OEM panel at the Precision Farming Dealer Summit in St. Louis, Mo.

Seth Crawford, AGCO senior vice president and general manager, precision ag and digital, Kendal Quandahl, Case IH precision technology marketing manager for North America, and Matt Olson, manager of precision ag go-to-market for John Deere, fielded questions about their strategic direction for business and outlook on autonomy.

An audience member asked for their thoughts on how fully autonomous machines are going to reshape agriculture.

“Our key thing is making sure that we’re understanding the value that’s created for the customer, making sure that they retain the greatest share of that,” Olson says. “But then we look at sharing some of that value with our dealers and for us as a business. And so, to me, outside of the work that is done, it should be really pretty seamless because we’ve talked a lot about, we’ve been on this journey to autonomy for a long time, and now we’re just getting to the point where we say, “Get out of the cab, you don’t need to be in there. So, I think the experience and what the customer gets, I think that’s pretty consistent when you look at how much investment in technology, and software, and the maintenance of that software, that’s a huge investment that we have to make, and you just, in a lot of cases, can’t sell that once and be able to support that for the rest of the machine’s life.” 

“I think if we do this right, collectively as a whole, we won’t notice because we took everybody one step at a time to deliver the solutions they’re asking and then in 2 years and 5 years and 10 years, we look back and say, ‘Man, we had to do that?’ If we’re all invested in the autonomy journey, we won’t even realizing that it’s happening,” Quandahl says.

“How is it changing our business internally with everything that’s going on? I could tell you for sure, we’re hiring a lot more software engineers, and robotics engineers, and sensors and perception engineers than we’ve ever hired in our past,” Crawford says. “And we’re hiring as a percentage now, a lot fewer mechanical engineers, and that will reshape how the products are brought out and developed.

“The other piece is being able to unlock features after the sale. Traditionally you sold a tractor and that’s the way it stayed for the life of it. I think what’s really a neat opportunity is you might sell a tractor today, or a combine, or a sprayer, and over time, we’re going to be able to unlock more features more easily than we’ve ever been able to do before, enhancing the value of the machine.” 

Be on the lookout for a full recap of the OEM panel coming soon to