Deere Unveils Autonomous Tractors

John Deere, which introduced its first tractors in 1918, plans to start large-scale production on a fully autonomous tractor that features Deere’s 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow and GPS guidance system, along with other advanced technologies, the company recently announced at CES 2022.

The company said the tractor could help increase global food production by 50% to meet the needs of a world population expected to increase by 25%, to 10 billion, by 2050. The tractor also will help ease the need for skilled labor.

The tractor has six pairs of stereo cameras to provide a 360-degree view to calculate distance and detect obstacles. Farmers need only to transport the machine to a field and set the configuration.

“This precise location-sensing technology (already) enables farmers to place seeds, spread nutrients and harvest their crops without having to touch the steering wheel,” noted Jahmy Hindman, chief technology officer at Deere.

“Without this self-driving technology, farming is incredibly exhausting mentally and physically. GPS technology allows farmers to spend their time in the cab of a tractor looking at the real-time data they are collecting during the job … and making adjustments.”

In other ag-related news:

A first for indoor farming: Walmart has taken a stake in agriculture startup Plenty, becoming the first large U.S. retailer to significantly invest in indoor vertical farming to deliver fresher produce to its stores. Under the deal, Plenty’s Compton farm will send leafy greens to Walmart’s California stores beginning later this year, reported The Wichita Eagle (Jan. 26).

Thought-provoking research: Britain could grow up to eight times its current production of fruit and vegetables if all available urban and under-used green space were turned to cultivation, new research has shown. While researchers were not seriously suggesting ploughing up parks and recreation areas, the Lancaster University study demonstrated how much potential lies in areas that are often undervalued and overlooked, reported The Guardian (Jan. 24).

Misc.: High fertilizer prices could translate into smaller crops for farmers. A Mississippi State Extension Service report found a bag of fertilizer that went for $11 in 2021 is now selling for about $19.95, reported CBS News. … Meanwhile, U.S. cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market reached 12 million head on Jan. 1, representing the second highest total for the date since reporting began in 1996, according to USDA. Additionally, the total was up 1% from the prior year.