Farm Progress

Raven Cart Automation synchronizes combine and grain cart operations.

Andy Castillo

March 26, 2024

2 Min Read
Raven Cart Automation connects the combine harvester to the tractor
IN HARMONY: This illustration shows how Raven Cart Automation connects the combine harvester to the tractor that’s pulling the grain bin. Once synchronized, the machines stay the correct distance apart. The combine operator can control the speed and direction of the tractor. New Holland

Gone are the days of jockeying the combine harvester and grain cart to capture every bushel. A new initiative from New Holland and Raven Industries simplifies harvest operations by synchronizing both machines so they stay aligned while unloading.

“The technology is a combination of electronic software and sensors,” says Paul Welbig, product marketing director of precision technology for New Holland about the product, Raven Cart Automation, which was released in February. “This enables automated synchronization of the combine and the tractor that’s pulling a grain cart.”

The initiative is intended to reduce grain spillage by “leveling up the capabilities” of low-skilled drivers, letting growers do more with less. Conceptually, Raven Cart Automation is a step in New Holland’s broader push toward complete machine autonomy and driverless vehicle operations.

“In between those steps is this automation stage. I call it ‘driver assist’ capabilities, where there is a driver in the cab. We’re enabling a lot more functionality of the tractor itself,” Welbig says. “Labor is harder and harder to find. That’s the purpose of bringing these types of technologies to market.”

Raven Cart Automation is available for most New Holland tractors with CVT/PST transmission (model year 2020 or newer), and seven CR combine models (model year 2015 and newer):

  • CR6.80

  • CR6.90

  • CR7.80

  • CR8.90

  • CR9.90

  • CR10.90

  • CR11

Installation is simple. Two plug-and-play control boxes connect to the combine and tractor’s telematic systems with a wiring harness. They communicate with each other via antennas affixed on the roof. Operators can sync up to six tractors with one combine.

“The tractor driver drives into proximity of the combine — roughly 200 to 250 feet. Once it’s within range, the tractor driver hits a button to sync,” Welbig says. “It’s really simple, from an operational standpoint.”

Once connected, the combine operator can remotely control the tractor’s speed and direction to make sure the unloading auger is lined up with the empty sections of the bin. If not, the operator “can nudge it faster,” so the unloading auger is positioned farther back, and vice versa. Knowing they’ll stay the same distance apart gives operators peace of mind, according to Welbig.

“As big as the combines are now and as fast as they unload, it doesn’t take long. Just a couple of seconds, and you’re dumping a lot of bushels on the ground,” he says.

About the Author(s)

Andy Castillo

Andy Castillo started his career in journalism about a decade ago as a television news cameraperson and producer before transitioning to a regional newspaper covering western Massachusetts, where he wrote about local farming.

Between military deployments with the Air Force and the news, he earned an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Bay Path University, building on the English degree he earned from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He's a multifaceted journalist with a diverse skill set, having previously worked as an EMT and firefighter, a nightclub photographer, caricaturist, features editor at the Greenfield Recorder and a writer for GoNomad Travel. 

Castillo splits his time between the open road and western Massachusetts with his wife, Brianna, a travel nurse who specializes in pediatric oncology, and their rescue pup, Rio. When not attending farm shows, Castillo enjoys playing music, snowboarding, writing, cooking and restoring their 1920 craftsman bungalow.

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