While the South African farming community has always bustled with farm workers, overseas the number of skilled farm hands has dwindled significantly. In an effort to resolve the issue of manpower, Norbert Beaujot, president of Seedmaster, has invented the DOT, the latest in Autonomous Farming technology.
Designed with a U shaped frame and four independent, hydraulically driven wheels, the DOT attaches itself to any compatible farming implement needed by the use of four arms, attaching themselves to the implement frame and lifting it up. These hydraulic arms lock into place, and dowels fit into the holes on the implement, keeping it secure and ready for farming.
The field is mapped by satellite, or manually by driving the terrain to map out a route that avoids obstacles. This ensures the DOT GPS operates at a sub-inch level of accuracy. Highly sensitive sensors on DOT are in place to immediately shut down the machine if an unmapped obstacle stands in its way, or if DOT strays off course even slightly. If the DOT is to shut down due to an obstacle or going astray, a message is immediately sent to the operator. It can also be remotely controlled and comes with an immediate Power-Off switch for further peace of mind.
According to Norbert, the DOT isn’t the result of brand new technology. This technology can also be found in self-driving cars, and prior autonomous farming equipment has already been implemented. The DOT is the first time it’s all been built into one completely autonomous package, the latest in autonomous farming technology.
Pro’s and Cons in Autonomous Farming
Despite its innovations, or more likely because of them, most farmers are reluctant to move to autonomous farming. Safety, effectiveness, and the skill of manpower are a concern for farmers. It requires rethinking their ways of farming, letting go of staff, and spending a great deal of money to purchase the equipment. They’d have to plan around their new equipment.
But farmers have also noted that despite the high start-up cost, they like how it cuts down on labor and production costs after implementation and the rise in efficiency. The DOT has gone a long way to easing concerns, thanks to its safety features, accuracy, and versatility. Many large-scale farms have placed their orders for DOT machinery, indicating the start of a new era of farming.
This accuracy was lacking prior to the invention of the DOT. Autonomous farming equipment was previously designed to be large and cumbersome to make up for the lack of farm workers. This has always been detrimental to accuracy and maneuverability, making autonomous machinery clumsy at best. This only validated farmers skepticism of autonomous equipment prior to DOT, which has paved the way for a future of simple, reliable, efficient machinery.
If the trend in the lack of skilled farm workers abroad (read more about it here) continues as is, fully autonomous farming is a very real, none-too-distant future. Farmers are already relenting, growing more comfortable with the notion and the way DOT operates.
It’s easy to predict that the wary skepticism revolving around autonomous farming will fall away to excited optimism. With farming innovations improving in leaps and bounds, from urban farming to robot farming, farming on in international scale boasts a promising future.
We’re excited to see what the future has to offer.