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The New Tractor Technology On The Block

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What driverless tractors mean for your farming operations.


With the inception of self-driving cars looming, much of the technology has been focused on how they’ll revolutionize the way we drive, but it the background with much quieter talk is how driverless farm equipment could dramatically alter the way we farm as we know it.  


Wagner Ag is all about farm equipment that assists farmers in their day-to-day operations, after all, where there is greater efficiency, the ROI is increased. Learn more about self-driving tractors in today’s post.

What Driverless Tractors Bring To Farming


The media headlines the new and upcoming autonomous cars and while companies like Google have been trying to see this technology come to fruition, farmers have taken the same approach, only applying it to farm equipment.


It’s simple, if this new farm technology is developed, it will change how we plant, harvest, and maintain our crops.


While many new tractors in the industry already have automatic steering systems, taking a tractor and making it truly autonomous, would mean adding sensors and systems that could fit the unique terrain and combat issues farmers face.  


Before we get into how and why self-driving tractors are beneficial for farmers, let’s touch on the brief history of tractors.


Since the 1980s, driverless tractors have been in the works. GPS tractors were developed to increase fuel efficiency and help navigate farmers across their land. With the development of wireless communications, this gave farmers the opportunity to remotely control what their tractors were doing, thus stepping more towards driverless tractors.


With great strides and innovative farming technology that supports farmers, still, completely self-driving tractors have not been made available to farmers. This, however, is not stopping farm equipment manufacturers — as of 2016 two companies introduced autonomous tractors at the Farm Progress Show.


Benefits of Autonomous Farm Equipment


When a tractor is truly autonomous and able to perform daily farming duties it makes so much possible such as:


  • Significantly reducing the workload of farm employees
  • Increasing farm employee safety
  • Improving planting and harvesting accuracy, thus ROI
  • New sensors will be able to collect information such as soil condition, providing better on-site data


Because autonomous tractors are precise, their efficiency is greatly improved. Instead of a farmer spending time from sun up to sun down working a field, the new tractor technology can work in all conditions, including at night.


Where farmers couldn’t typically see in the past, the new sensors can implement straight rows and meticulous planting.


This technology is also a huge benefit to farm employees — in extreme weather, it keeps them protected and out of extremely hot or cold weather, while not losing revenue from downtime. It is also to able to provide exact information in windy, dusty, and foggy weather conditions that would normally impact a driver’s visibility.


What New Farm Tractors Can Offer


There is always a big debate between new and used farm equipment, and honestly, they both have a place in your farming operations.


New farm equipment, however, comes equipped with sensors and technology that provide a wealth of information. Apart from automatic steering and GPS is tractors, they can also assess the following:


  • The amount of fuel that is required
  • The moisture level of the ground
  • Current yield
  • The development of planted crops
  • Pesticide and fertilizer rates


What’s the hold up on driverless tractors?


New farm tractors already are equipped with a wealth of information, so what’s holding up the next step in autonomous tractors?


While the downside of the technology isn’t much, but it could be catastrophic to a farm if something went wrong. With potential accidents or glitches that could affect how crops are planted or harvested, aren’t a risk most farmers are ready to take, so manufacturers will surely have to button up the technology tightly before farmers become more willing to invest.


While driverless tractors have the potential to revolutionize just about every step in farming, saving the farmer a great deal of time and increasing the ROI on the crop production, much more testing is needed before farmers completely commit to this driverless technology.


Interested in the leading tractor technology? Peruse our database of the agricultural companies paving the way! And, you may even end up finding used farm equipment as well!