Latest ag innovation takes the farmer out of the tractor

Farmers can now work without being in the fields. An autonomous tractor can work on its own with help from a kit that can be added on.

“We’re not going to be driving this thing down the highway, down the road,” a sales employee at Western Equipment in Plainview, Cameron Clark, said. “You know, it’s going to be something that we leave the barn, go to the field, and then you’ll be able to turn the on the autonomous from your phone.”

The tractor has a total of six cameras. Half of the cameras on the tractor look forward, and half look backward. Clark says with the help of these cameras, it will stop when something is in its path.

“In the field, the systems are showing if there’s a tree branch, or if there’s a tire in the middle of the field and this machine will actually stop by itself,” Clark said.

Clark says finding farm help hasn’t been easy and autonomous tractors, like the ones manufactured by John Deere and Case, can help.

“With the shortness of labor these guys will be able to take this tractor to a field, get it going if they were going to till with it or plant, and they can go and hop on a combine or they can hop on a cotton stripper and they can do two things at one time,” Clark said.

A cotton farmer in Lubbock, Rex Kennedy with TKT Farms, says that’s one pro. He says cotton farming can be intense though, and requires a set of eyes to make sure nothing goes wrong.

“Having the technology to be able to see for sure if a planter’s planting, if a spray rig is doing what it’s supposed to do, and even plowing,” Kennedy said.

He uses the self-driving tractor that still requires someone in the cab, which works for him.

“Driving up and down the rows without running over the cotton, that’s not a deal it can do that,” Kennedy said.

He isn’t sure if technology can be precise enough to take the farmer away, and still stay within the rows of cotton.

“You just have that narrow gap that you either need to spray, plow, and not damage your crop,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy says the future is moving toward autonomy, but right now it could be too much of an economic risk with the losses from this harvest.