New Holland and Case IH Experimenting with Autonomous Technology
Automation is a growing trend in today’s agriculture industry. As technology becomes more advanced and cheaper to purchase, the industry’s biggest players such as New Holland and Case IH are looking towards the future and how agriculture will work with autonomous technologies.
Unfortunately as farms become larger, the number of total farms in Canada is decreasing rapidly with each generation. This isn’t a uniquely Canadian problem. Large farms across North America are finding it harder to find quality workers who are experienced and can also operate the new machinery as it becomes more advanced.
Trouble finding quality labour is only one factor leading to companies investing more money and research into autonomous solutions like the technology from ASI or the DOT from SeedMaster, which we saw unveiled in 2017.
Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) uses robotics to help create a variety of driver-less machines that we will be seeing in the workplace sooner than we think. While they work in many different sectors, they plan on playing a crucial role as farm machinery becomes more advanced.
By working together with some of North America’s largest agriculture companies, ASI and the companies involved are trying to gather data on crop performance, economics, and overall performance of the autonomous technology working with large-scale agriculture machinery.
ASI will be used in two pilot programs with large-scale growers out of California. A partnership agreement has been announced between ASI, New Holland Agriculture, and E. & J. Gallo Winery, which happens to be the largest family-owned winery in the world. Another partnership was announced between ASI, Case IH, and Campbell Soup Company’s Bolthouse Farms, one of North America’s largest vegetable growers. Both partnerships are designed to get autonomous technology into large-scale agriculture and analyze performance data.
“We are delighted to work with these world class organizations at this exciting time,” says Mel Torrie, CEO of ASI. “The technology maturity and lower costs are converging towards an automation disruption just in time to help with the severe shortage of farm labour.”
E. & J. Gallo Winery will be using the New Holland T4.110F vineyard tractors in their operations in California that are fitted with autonomous technology. The systems will be performing a full range of maintenance and crop production tasks. These tasks are highly repetitive and are done many times throughout the year, making it an ideal application for automation and reliable data collection.
At Bolthouse Farms, ASI will be used with multiple autonomous Case IH Steiger® Quadtrac® tractors for crop tillage. While Bolthouse is a vegetable farm in California, the data collected will be very useful for other types of crop production going forward.
“Feedback from these operations is key for us to further refine the solution for specific implements and production scenarios,” says Bret Turpin, Agriculture Project Owner for ASI.
This work builds on the longstanding collaboration between ASI and these global agricultural manufacturers. Recently commercialized products, which have derived from the research and development activities of the autonomous program, have included the release of Case IH’s AccuTurn™ and New Holland Agriculture’s IntelliTurn™ automated end-of-row turning products.
While these pilot programs are run out of California, the information on how autonomous machinery works in the agriculture industry will be very applicable to farming here in Canada.
We are already seeing Canadian companies like DOT (SeedMaster) come up with their own solutions for autonomous machinery, so it will be very interesting to see how these new machines can help farmers in the future.
To learn more about ASI and what technologies they are designing for agriculture, go to asirobots.com.