• Precision Ag Reviews

Autonomous Machinery And Your Farm’s Path To Complete Autonomy


The biggest show in Midwest agriculture is happening right now, after skipping last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL ends today, but many farmers are still scrambling to see the latest in farm innovation and technology.


Among the highlights is a harvest demonstration by Raven’s OMNiDRIVE, an aftermarket system to be installed on your current tractor, enabling one farmer to both harvest the crop in the combine and unload by controlling the tractor and grain cart from the combine cab.


The demonstration helps farmers understand how OMNiDRIVE could work on their own farms, including highlighting its safety features (recognition of people, animals, and unharvested crops), tablet operating system, ease of use, and compatibility with many different tractor makes and models.


While many farmers enjoy seeing what’s possible, complete autonomy is not the natural next step for most. Raven believes that the successful path to complete autonomy requires many steps in between. If you are currently not using any automation, the next right step might be to invest in one precision ag technology and implement it on your farm. Autosteer might be a good example of a first step in the pathway to complete automation.


If you are already using at least one automated system on your equipment, but each function independently, the next step might be to leverage connectivity opportunities that would allow all your automated systems to talk to each other. A system like this will coordinate and sync field tasks, making field work more efficient. Examples of these types of technology might be autosteer and guidance systems or utilizing nozzle control.


Once you have technologies that are connected to each other and sharing information, the next step is to allow equipment to interact with the environment around it. Technologies like boom controls are allowing the machinery to make decisions and react to environmental stimuli in what Raven calls “real time automation.”


Finally, farmers can employ supervised autonomy, which will give them the freedom to get out of the cab and transition labor resources to other priority tasks. The machinery will react to its environment and the equipment around it. The technology allows for machines to engage in simple decision making based on a set of predetermined parameters. The farmer supervises the action or, eventually, is completely engaged in other activity, at which point the farm achieves full autonomy.


All throughout the Farm Progress Show, farmers are determining where they are in this path to autonomy and considering their own opportunities to make the next right step. Exhibitors from all over the world are showing off their most impressive innovations to challenge farmers to see agriculture – and their own farms – in new ways that will expand the boundaries of American agriculture.


Learn more about Raven’s OMNiDRIVE by visiting their website.

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