Case IH and Raven Industries -- Raven is a subsidiary of CNH Industrial -- have introduced agriculture's first autonomous spreader: the Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy. The Trident 5550 applicator, which went from development to product introduction in less than a year, combines driverless technology with an autonomous spreading platform.
"We've talked about autonomy, sitting around the shop, for a long time and (were) excited for when it got here, what it could do for us and how we can use it to make our farm more efficient," said Brady Fahlman, owner-operator of Fahlman Acres in Holdfast, Saskatchewan, Canada, about an hour north of Regina. Fahlman worked with the Trident earlier this year on the farm he and his father, Keenan, operate. "Autonomy is one thing that's going to allow us to do that. If we can get guys out of the cab, that's really going to help our efficiency and help us improve our farm."
See the full video interview with Fahlman here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….
A fifth-generation farmer, Fahlman farms 10,000 acres with his father -- mostly spring wheat, yellow peas and red lentils. They deployed the Trident this year over 2,000 acres for in-crop fertilizing. "It went fairly smooth. We had a few hiccups, but it's a learning curve," Fahlman said.
But by the end of their application period, the Fahlmans had a day on which the Trident 5550 completed work on 400 acres. "We are starting to see that we can do this, where we are more comfortable." The Fahlmans did learn that with this autonomous machine, obstacles in the field will have to be removed prior to fieldwork.
Operators have full control of the applicator as it travels through the field as an unmanned or manned system. Unmanned and with a mobile device, operators can complete an entire field operation based on mapped field boundaries. A variety of tasks and functions can be viewed remotely through the mobile device, including fuel level, diesel exhaust fluid level, speed, revolutions per minute, bin-level status and diagnostic trouble codes. The Trident's technology stack includes guidance and steering, propulsion control, perception, and path planning software developed by Raven.
Fahlman tells DTN/Progressive Farmer that autonomous machinery like the Trident 5550 will necessarily alter the flow of his farm. "We're going to have to change operationally; logistically, stuff is going to have to be adjusted to make this work for us," he said.
The Fahlman farm has already made one adjustment. The operation hired this past summer an employee with expertise in precision farming. "He brings that (skill) for us. And I think (he's) going to be important to handle everything not only for the agronomic side, but all the data that we need to get that into place; to use it to make management decisions."
The Case IH Trident 5550 applicator with Raven Autonomy will be operating in North America with limited availability in 2023.
Dan Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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