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Start-Up Spotlight: Smart Ag

Iowa-based Smart Ag is releasing, on a limited basis, the first application for its AutoCart. This software fully automates a grain cart tractor. The technology, says Colin Hurd, will allow you to automate your existing equipment and maximize its efficiency and capacity – regardless of manufacturer. To date, it is compatible with 48 tractor models.  

“Farming should no longer be defined by what the equipment industry decides is better or more profitable. We believe agriculture is best when you have choices,” says Hurd, who is the founder and CEO of Smart Ag. “The best way to improve your operational capacity is to enable you to use automation and driverless technology on your farm. With the correct technology and knowledge, you can do the seemingly impossible.”

plug-and-play to automate

AutoCart, along with the SmartHP tractor automation kit, is a plug-and-play system that allows you to set staging and unloading locations in a field, adjust speed, monitor location, and command the grain cart to sync precisely to the speed and direction of the combine. After it is loaded, the AutoCart automatically returns to an unloading point elsewhere in the field.

According to Hurd, Smart Ag’s driverless tractor technology “empowers you to leave the cab” and complete your operations faster and with less labor than ever before. “AutoCart performs the same function as a driver, only it is more profitable, more reliable, and safer,” he says. “Our technology has the potential to bring significant change to U.S. crop production through improved productivity, profitability, and safety.”

Over two years in development, Smart Ag recently completed comprehensive beta testing on Midwest farms during corn and soybean harvest. Kyle Mehmen’s fifth-generation MBS Family Farms near Plainfield, Iowa, was one of those test sites.

“The AutoCart system performed extremely well for us during our corn harvest, and I fully expect it to be a game changer for agriculture,” he says. “These are the kinds of technologies we’re going to adopt on our farm one way or the other. It’s simply a matter of when and which ones.”

The Smart Ag platform includes four components.

SmartHP. This is an automation kit for the tractor and includes all connection harnesses, equipment, hardware, and installation instructions. Cost is $25,000 per tractor.

SmartNX. This is the hardware that connects your combine or any other machine to the cloud and any tractor with SmartHP.

AutoCart. This is the interface used in the combine to control the grain cart tractor. Cost is $2,500 a year or $10,000 for five years.

AAVI Autonomous Farming. This is the free farm, field, and machinery management platform.

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about the company

Company: Smart Ag 

Founder: Colin Hurd

Headquarters: Ames, Iowa

Background: The Smart Ag platform enables a machine to run autonomously, and it includes four components. SmartHP is a simple plug-and-play kit to automate tractors. SmartNX is the hardware to connect a combine or any other machine to the cloud and any tractor with SmartHP. AutoCart is the interface used in the combine to control the grain cart tractor. AAVI Autonomous Farming is the overall farm, field, and machinery management platform.

“We focus on solving one simple problem: controlling a tractor,” says Hurd. “Smart Ag uses affordable technology already on the market to reliably and safely accomplish that.”

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