Autonomous technology is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Agriculture will eventually be impacted by this technology, with seemingly limitless potential for evolution in how crops are grown, monitored, sprayed and harvested.
The Minneapolis-based Rowbot Systems is an example of that autonomous change. One of the company’s machines finished seeding 100 acres of cover crops across 3 states earlier this month, running in fully autonomous mode at 4 miles per hour with a safety operator monitoring it from the side of the field while it plants 4 rows at a time. Eventually, one safety operator will be able to monitor dozens of machines working simultaneously.
The GPS-guided Rowbot is diesel-powered with a hydraulic four-wheel-drive system. The 7-foot-long machines are 20-22 inches wide and have a 40-gallon aluminum tank and 4 nozzles in the rear for sidedressing UAN, with a small seed hopper to hold the seed. The Rowbot’s tracks can potentially increase seed-to-soil contact, a key factor influencing cover crop success.
Rowbot was founded in May 2012 by two brothers, Charles and John Bares, from New York and Pennsylvania, respectively. It was originally intended to be a competitive advantage to aerial seeding, in terms of cost and quality.
For the 2021 growing season, the company expects a large commercial deployment of Rowbot as a custom application service. Rates will be $10-$15 per acre.
Would you be willing to use autonomous equipment in your operation? What else could you get done if autonomous equipment were doing the work instead? Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.