Let's Talk Technology: Autonomous Equipment Boosts Efficiencies on Corn, Soybean Farm

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Taylor Nelson of Nelson Farms, at Jackson, Nebraska, talks about how operations on his family's farm incorporate ever-more-sophisticated technologies to improve operational timeliness and realize new efficiencies. (DTN photo by Dan Miller)

Earlier this year, DTN/Progressive Farmer caught up with Taylor Nelson, of Nelson Farms. Nelson, a fifth-generation farmer from Jackson, Nebraska, was featured as part of John Deere's inaugural rollout of its autonomous tractor/tillage tool combination -- the autonomous 8R paired with TruSet-Enabled Chisel Plow.

Deere's autonomous event was presented as part of CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We talked with Nelson about the technology his family used on their corn and soybean farm and how the farm incorporates technology to improve function, timeliness, and efficiency.

A video interview with Nelson, along with this story, launch a new piece to our machinery coverage called "Let's Talk Technology." It is an occasional feature produced to spur discussion -- and discovery -- around the flood of technology coming the way of American farmers.

See the full video interview here:….

The following, in brief, are some of the ideas Nelson discussed in the video.

-- Search for technology: "When it comes to technology, we look at a lot of things, but top of the list is always efficiency. We're looking for how can this help us to be more efficient, more productive, get even more done in less time."

-- Search for priorities. "The more we can automate maybe the more mundane or simple tasks to allow us to be in a position where we can be a better leader and coordinate and communicate better, so we can have smooth logistics, all those things -- tech plays the first step in that."

-- Technology and labor. "The most stressful time of year is harvest. We're the shortest on help, we have the most that needs to be done at that time, we're under a really strong time crunch during that time. And so, for us, as I look, tillage is a great first step -- it's allowing us to have a simultaneous operation to harvest. But if we're able to have autonomy in the grain cart operation and to be able to automate that and eliminate the need for that additional labor during that harvest window, that would really be the first place I would go."

-- Autonomy and the equipment dealer. "My biggest question for my dealer would be: Help me understand what my limitations are. If I know what the limitations are, and what I need to watch out for, or where I can run into an issue and plan for that ahead of time, I can get the best possible experience from using this tech. ... The trust-building process of this is going to be understanding the limitations of it and being able to manage around those areas before the autonomous machine comes in."

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