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Senior Advisor

No Driver In Tractor

On Thursdy, 9 Jun, Laurie Bedord of Successful Farming had a segment on their TV show about autonomous vehicles, especiallyl tractors and combines.

Very interesting.

The first thing is - they don't look tractors.  Wel,, Duh!  No cab needed.  They look like something you'd find in a coal mine, all box and tracks.

I use auto-steer planting and spraying and love it.  It's one of those things that after you get used to it, and cuss it 'cause you don't understand it and it does things you didn't want it to, you get to relying on it and wouldn't do without it.

It will let old men farm longer.  It will probably expand the farming opportunities for many people.  It will reduce the need for extra workers at some times of the year.

Automated operations will almost certainly gather a lot of data which can be shared, analysed, synthesized, concatenated and who all knows what else.  It will likely lead to bigger farms as it takes money to buy and operate these machines.

At the same time, it might lead to more specialization as machines can be programmed to be more precise in operations.  Maybe you really can farm that 160 acres field as if it were 5 or 6 smaller, irregular shaped patches with it's own best practices,seed varieties and fertilizer needs.

It's going to interesting and I think unstoppable.

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3 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: No Driver In Tractor

A tractor without a Soundgard cab and radio and air conditioning and heat and windshield wiper could save $20,000 per unit right there.  Also a tractor that needs a "steering wheel turner", well that`s $20/hr, Fica, Obamacare insurance..that extra hourly opperating costs would be eliminated. But you need enough acres to justify that initial investment, so the big guys get it first and that advantage, many smaller opperations would be absorbed.

 

I look at this dependency on technology from a science fiction view.  Imagine 20 years from now "farmers are robots" and things are going great, then one spring day in April a solar flare fries the satelites and electrical grid.  the only tractors that work are a 4430 or 4020 and a 7000 finger pickup planter, all things either parked in the weeds or junkman has long hauled off.  How does the world`s corn and bean crop get planted then?   But if that never happens...Party on Garth!

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Advisor

Re: No Driver In Tractor

What? Hauled off for junk? That's the good stuff we use every day! Why in the world do you call a 4020 (except maybe a gas job) junk?

 

On the solar flare thing...I got the beer iced down waiting for that. It's gonna happen someday.

 

http://www.space.com/12584-worst-solar-storms-sun-flares-history.html

 

 

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Re: No Driver In Tractor

I like the way the math works out.  I have about 250 acres that needes to be mowed every week, 6 months of the year.  Same 250, over and over again, going around the same trees, the same rocks, the same flower beds, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week.  You would think that after 11 years of doing this the tractor would know the path pretty well on its own. 

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