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Remote-controlled farm

Updated: 09/06/2012 @ 10:55am

Whether it's conserving minutes, money, or manpower in farming, efficiency is the name of the game. For many, the answer to achieving that goal lies in technology.

“Electronic-based technology is very well established in agricultural applications. It was one of the main drivers of productivity, efficiency, comfort, automation, and sustainability over the last 10 years,” says Herbert Reiter, vice president, engineering, Fendt. “Due to the high pressure from the market on commodity prices, farmers were obliged to cut production costs and to invest in technologies for higher efficiency and productivity.”

But how far are farmers willing to go to widen that gap between profit and loss? While letting go of the steering wheel is one thing, would you be willing to remove yourself from the tractor seat entirely?

“Farmers' behaviors are more on the conservative side,” continues Reiter. “Electronic equipment in a rough environment of field applications and farming operations is a challenge. However, farmers watch very carefully new technologies and check the benefits they will get out of them.”

It's those benefits that are driving companies like Kinze Manufacturing to take steps toward advancing farmers to the next level.

Kinze's Autonomy Project

Thinking outside the box is a quality that Kinze Manufacturing prides itself on. It's also a quality that is helping the company look to the future as it gears up for growth.

“Bringing firsts to the agriculture market is what Kinze Manufacturing has been doing for more than 45 years,” says Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch, vice president and chief marketing officer at Kinze.

With the recent announcement of its Autonomy Project, the company is continuing that tradition with this innovative solution to increase productivity on the farm.

The project marries three existing technologies – GPS, automation, and sensing – to create a system that is designed to reduce the need for skilled labor by taking the human element out of the tractor cab.

“It's our goal to help reduce fatigue and help producers make the most of their harvest,” says Veatch. “As growers ourselves, we know how crucial it is to be productive during the short planting and harvesting windows. With this technology, producers can set their equipment to run all night if necessary.”

It's a concept that is definitely piquing Doug Applegate's interest. Applegate, who farms about 1,500 acres near Oakland, Iowa, says he's cautiously optimistic.

“Harvest is the time of year when I need the most help,” Applegate says. “Auto steer has not improved as well as I would have expected. This does not give me confidence that this will work well anytime soon. Although Kinze is the new kid on the block when it comes to technology, the company may surprise me.”

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