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Down-to-the-centimeter, autonomous farming

Tomorrow’s Tech Today: Sabanto and Trimble cooperate to deliver a tractor that operates autonomously at centimeter-level accuracy.

Tom J. Bechman

January 11, 2024

3 Min Read
An autonomous tractor working in a field
ON THE MONEY: Look closely. There is no one in the cab, yet this tractor is operating at centimeter-level accuracy, thanks to Trimble GPS correction on top of Sabanto autonomous technology. Trimble

Take a modern, efficient tractor. Add Sabanto’s autonomous technology and Trimble’s BX992 dual-antenna GNSS receiver with Trimble’s CenterPoint RTX solution for GPS. What have you got?

You’ve got centimeter-level, L-band accuracy anywhere in the world in a tractor that can operate on its own, spokespersons say. Trimble and Sabanto recently announced plans to integrate their technologies to produce an autonomous solution with unmatched accuracy.

“It’s exciting to witness how Trimble’s technology and our Trimble Ventures relationship can accelerate the adoption of autonomy in the agriculture industry, as evidenced by this next phase of our collaboration with Sabanto,” says Finlay Wood, general manager of off-road autonomy for Trimble. Learn more at trimble.com and sabantoag.com.

Stream switching for GPS

Frustrated when you lose GPS signal? Trimble introduces stream switching, a feature that allows streaming over satellite or cellular. Spokespersons say it enables farmers to have the best available means to receive RTX corrections for GPS. That minimizes downtime while lowering your stress level at the same time.

In areas on your farm where satellite cutoff occurs, the system switches to a modem and stays on IP. Or if there is a bad cellular connection, streaming automatically switches to satellites. It works for Trimble CenterPoint RTX, RangePoint RTX and ViewPoint RTX with NAV-900 or NAV-500 receivers. Visit trimble.com.

Watch the tractor turn

Not quite ready for a tractor without a driver? You still want to be in the cab? Then TurnPath from Ag Leader might be the alternative you’re looking for, and it is available today. This feature provides hands-free steering for automatic, repeatable end-of-row turns. Spokespersons say it reduces the number of steps you must take when approaching a headland.

There is a one-time unlock fee for TurnPath in Ag Leader’s InCommand display. It’s available for SteadySteer and SteerCommand Z2 systems. Visit agleader.com.

ET, phone home!

OK, the innovation from InnerPlant isn’t as far-fetched as an alien contacting its home planet. In fact, it’s about to be tested big time across the Midwest through a partnership with Growmark, based in Bloomington, Ill.

Spokespersons position InnerSoy as the world’s first soybean fungal sensor. InnerPlant engineers plants to emit optical signals if stressed by lack of water or nutrients, or if under attack from pathogens. These signals can be detected with drones or satellites, allowing the earliest possible warning for disease.

Growmark will establish small plots throughout the Midwest this summer and expand plots over the next three years. Plot data will allow InnerPlant’s machine-learning tools to fine-tune diagnostic skills. See innerplant.com and growmark.com.

Grain marketing help

Could a system designed to record field operations also help you market grain better? Spokespersons for Bayer are confident that can happen more easily since Climate FieldView integrated platforms with Combyne, the crop management marketing tool that Bayer acquired recently. This integration promises to help erase the gap between crop production and crop marketing, making it a more seamless operation.

“From crop planning through crop marketing, farmers should be able to connect digital platforms that support their operations,” says Brandon Rinkenberger, chief customer officer for Climate LLC and digital farming at Bayer. He believes this new integration between Combyne and FieldView gives growers more capability to put their data to work, resulting in more timely sale decisions and better marketing outcomes. Visit fieldview.com.

Ara smart sprayer in U.S.

The Ara smart sprayer from Ecorobotix is turning heads in Europe. Now the company hopes to do the same in the U.S. The Ara sprayer from the Swiss ag-tech and software company combines ultrahigh-precision sprayer technology with its plant-by-plant artificial intelligence-based software solution.

The system’s claim to fame is that it can scan a field, capture real-time imagery, identify selected crops or weeds, execute a very precise spray pattern and minimize drift — all in less than 250 milliseconds.

Expect the sprayer to debut first in high-value specialty crops in California and other locations. Learn more at ecorobotix.com.

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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